Lucknow: As more and more villagers are migrating towards cities for better livelihood abandoning their farms, entire Daulatpur village in Barabanki looks like a huge green farm like those in western countries.
The village, which is about 40 km from the State capital Lucknow, is cultivating high yielding cash crops of bananas, chipsona potato (used to make wafers), tomatoes and mentha, all non-traditional crops for this area till two decades ago.
While farming community in India struggles with crop losses, dwindling farm returns and rising debts, for Daulatpur farmer Ramsaran Verma agriculture is a profitable business.
School dropout Verma earns Rs 2 crore annually by growing high-quality bananas, tomatoes, potatoes and mentha on 212 acres of agriculture land including 200 acres on contract from 15 fellow villagers.
“Growing cash crops, best seeds and tissue culture and technology can turnaround the farming,” says Verma who was the first to cultivate bananas in the area in 1990s quitting traditional paddy, wheat and mustard crops which offered poor returns after learning the skills from the farmers of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Verma, who started experimenting with his own 12 acres land in 1990s, tells proudly, “I could grow 250 quintals of banana per acre initially. This was the time when villagers were shifting to cities leaving their traditional profession. I borrowed their land. After few years of hard work, I managed to grow 400 quintals of bananas per acre.”
After learning about his success, people started returning to the village and sought their land back, Verma tells with a smile.
“Then I shifted base 50 km away to Daulatpur and started cooperative farming by training more and more farmers gradually,” says Verma who now grows up to 500 quintals per acre and provides employment to nearly hundreds of labourers every year.
Verma says, “It takes about Rs1 lakh for preparation of land, seeds, fertilizers, irrigation, crop protection, bamboo and labour charge to cultivate banana on one acre of land. The yield is around 400 quintals which fetches Rs five lakhs with Rs four lakh as net profit.”
Tomatoes fetch Rs4,5 lakh per acre profit, potatoes Rs1 lakh an acre and mentha about Rs50,000. Verma advises farmers must grow multiple crops to avoid losses due to crop failure.
His success started attracting farmers from other parts of the State who flocked to learn his profitable techniques. Verma conducts free training sessions for agriculturalists and government officials across India. Over 20,000 farmers across UP and other states are now using his techniques.
Verma has been given several Indian farming awards for his work. The highest point of his life came in 2019 when he was awarded India's fourth highest civilian award, the Padma Shri. Is any dream yet to be fulfilled? The humble man says-may be to cultivate 600 quintals bananas per acre.