Karimnagar: This is one techie who has taken to the “field” with absolute ease, quite literally. His success story is not some ‘fig’ment of imagination but borne out of a strong desire and will to succeed in whatever he does.
Meet Katla Srinivas, a young software engineer-turned-farmer from Thirumalapur village of Ramadugu mandal in the district. From the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, Srinivas, who was working for ‘Red Chillies’ (owned by actor Shah Rukh Khan), decided to return to his roots, a tiny village in the district in 2013, since he was not very happy with what he was doing. He traded algorithms for farm tools, raised organic vegetables and then took to the cultivation of figs, initially on an experimental basis and then graduated to commercial scale.
“I didn’t like the idea of being so far away from my parents, and I wasn’t really happy with the job. That was reason enough for me to return to my village,” Srinivas told ‘Telangana Today’.
With zero knowledge in agriculture, as he put it, he took to farming when his parents were hit by dengue in 2015, and the doctors advised him to ensure that they eat nutritious food. He decided to raise organic vegetables for them, and he quite liked what he was doing. The second turning point for Srinivas came when his daughter, just three months old at that time, was suffering from some stomach ailment, and the doctor advised that he give her fig syrup. That led him do some intensive research into the fruit and realised it had medicinal values too.
Thus began the farming journey for the rookie farmer, from organic vegetables to figs, both triggered by doctors’ advice.
“I have no regrets about leaving the software field. I am doing fine now and enjoying every bit of what I am doing,” he said. He attributes his success to his mother who encouraged and supported him throughout what would have undoubtedly been troubled times initially. And his wife? “Well, she helps me with my agriculture work,” he says laughingly.
The family owns about 16 acres, but only one land parcel is a big chunk of 10 acres where their house is located. “I started with organic vegetable cultivation in about one acre in 2015 and that still goes on. I took up plantation of fig trees (of the Brown Turkey variety developed by Pune University) in March 2019. I bought 1,000 saplings from Raichur-based farmer Ramachander Rao and planted them in 2.10 acres which cost me Rs 1.8 lakh,” he said, adding that on the way, some progressive farmers came to his help with some good advice.
In India, the common edible fig is cultivated in western parts of Maharashtra, Lucknow and Sharanpur of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bellary, Chitradurga and Srirangapatnam of Karnataka and Coimbatore of Tamil Nadu. In Telangana, it is grown in a few pockets in Mahabubnagar, Gadwal and Medak districts.
Besides going in for drip irrigation, Srinivas uses organic manures such as vermicompost and adds Mychorrhyza, bioculture, eggs and coconut powder and five types of oils to protect the plants. “The yield usually starts in November, but since February this year, we have been getting 15 to 20 kg of fruit every day. We are doing the packaging and marketing ourselves,” he said, adding that the fruit fetches him Rs 150 per kg.
Srinivas, who also intends to make fig syrup and jam besides powder to be used in milkshakes and sweets, says he does have big plans, including branding his farm product, but politely declines to reveal them.
Asked about the turnover, he says in agriculture, one should not look at immediate returns. “I am comfortable with what I am making now, and there are future plans. His efforts have been commended by Telangana State Planning Board Vice-Chairman B Vinod Kumar and District Collector K Shashanka, both of whom have visited his farm.
In fact, Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy was to visit his farm on Saturday during his visit to Karimnagar but could not make it. “The Minister announced at a meeting that he would soon visit my farm,” Srinivas said.
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