If the majority of farmers suffer from agricultural hardship and commit suicide because of so-called “unprofitable agriculture”, here is a farmer who earns decent money by taking over traditional and multi-crop cultivation on his small piece of land.
Gunderaya Dhulugonda, a 52-year-old farmer from the village of Pattana in the Kalaburagi district, is the man who attracts young farmers and farm enthusiasts by practicing profitable agriculture including silk farming, sugar cane cultivation, forestry, ranching and much more. Last year he made a net profit of around 10 lakh yen from just 3.5 acres of land he inherited from his father.
Mr Dhulugonda attributed its success mainly to its reliance on his family’s labor, traditional farming practices with little or no cost of machinery, fertilizers and pesticides, and the elimination of middlemen in selling his products to consumers.
He grew sugar cane on an acre of land. The harvest is not destined for sugar mills, as is the case with most sugar cane growers. He and his wife Shashikala harvest the harvest little by little every day, extract the sugar cane juice with a grinder and sell it directly to the people at Pattana Cross on Kalaburagi-Aland Road, which is very close to his farm. Last year he earned over 5 lakh just selling sugar cane juice. Another ₹ 1.5 lakh came from the silk farming he had done on an acre of land.
Mr Dhulugonda has done forestry on an acre of land where he has planted a number of long-term crops including 32 sapota trees, 200 teak trees, 200 custard apple trees, 30 devastating croton plants, six Indian gooseberry plants and five Java plum (jamun) plants . Many of them, including sapota and custard that are around 10 years old, are already giving off returns. The teak plants are five years old and have another 10 years to produce yields. Now Mr Dhulugonda plans to plant 56 cute tamarind plants in the same stretch this year.
The remaining part of his land is full of many crops and plants, including ginger, turmeric, mint, a variety of vegetables, curry plants, lemon plants, a jackfruit tree, and guava plants. The farmer himself harvests all of these plants and sells them together with sugar cane juice at Pattana Cross directly to consumers.
Mr Dhulugonda has also raised livestock around his small farmhouse. There are 30 chickens, eight sheep and seven cows.
“Now we plan to start beekeeping next year,” said Ms. Shashikala.
Mr Dhulugonda, who passed SSLC, does not believe in excessive mechanization nor in the use of chemical based fertilizers and pesticides. He doesn’t even own a tractor. He cultivates the entire area with the help of a single ox. He himself makes vermicompost from the animals’ dung and uses it as fertilizer.
To irrigate his land, Mr. Dhulugonda created a large farm pond 50 meters long, 40 meters wide and 38 feet deep. There is another large well in the field.
“I have never faced water scarcity in recent years because I irrigated my land. Rather than announcing freebies for farmers, the government should develop a program to build ponds, tanks, and lakes in each village, improve road access, and provide unlimited electricity. These measures will help farmers start growing and better bring their crops to market. The construction of reservoirs will also help raise the water table, ”said Mr Dhulugonda The Hindu, standing on the bank of his yard pond.
Mr Dhulugonda is not heavily dependent on farm laborers. Apart from him and his wife, only one person works permanently in the field. He only hires more workers when absolutely necessary.
“I haven’t taken out any agricultural loans in the past 20 years. I am self sufficient. I recently bought an acre of land with my savings and I want to build a house and a school for poor and destitute children, ”said Mr Dhulugonda.