Mr. Chandan Singh Patel dared to think beyond what was always being done.
Tell us about yourself
I am located at Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. I am from a family with an ancestral trail of farmers. A part of my land is dedicated for aromatic farming. In this sector I grow lemongrass, camomile and vetiver. Another sector is dedicated to traditional crops and then, I practice pearl farming as well.
How did you decide to start growing Lemongrass?
I have been growing lemon grass for over a year now. The area that we are in is of dry climate. The water level is pretty low. So conventional agriculture can get expensive.
So, for last two years I have been growing lemongrass in 2 acres of land. I have a distillation unit as well. I do the entire oil processing here itself. I source my plant from a government institute at Lucknow. I get my buyers and marketing also done through them.
I have sold lemon grass oil at the rate of Rs. 1500 per litre.
My yield was 50 litre from 2 acres of land. I could harvest three times in one year.
How about the maintenance of the crop and labor cost – how much does that amount to?
When I started, I sourced Rs. 12000/- worth planting material. When you plant it for the first time you will need labor for weed removal and things like that. So, that labor cost is an expenditure.
After that, for 5 years, the cutting will keep happening every three months.
Are there other farmers near to your land who are also into aromatic farming?
I am the first one to do this in this area. Some nearby farmers have given me order for plants and I will source the plants for them.
You cultivate vetiver and camomile also right?
Yes! I have planted camomile in 1 acre. Vetiver is a nursery plant, which has to be planted during the monsoon season. In July during monsoons is when I will plant it.
Are there traders in your area who buy the produce from you? Do you face a problem in marketing your produce?
No, I sell through the same government body I source my plants from. They come and pick up the produce from here. So, it is convenient.
How long have you been into pearl farming?
I started pearl farming in May 2017. It has been 2 years now. I started in a 20X25 ft. pond.
You got a pond made on your land?
Yes! You need to dig out a pond for pearl farming. It is crucial.
How did you land this idea to take up pearl farming?
I saw it on YouTube. I saw a video of a person doing pearl farming in Lucknow. Then another person in Mumbai also started doing it. I liked what I saw and felt like trying it out.
There is a government institute called Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA) that provides training in pearl farming. They have a very long waiting list of people waiting to get you into their training programme though. There are other private institutes also that give you training.
Have you gone through a training course?
Yes Sir, I did. It is a 2-day training course.
Did you avail of any subsidy for pearl farming?
No Sir, there is no subsidy for pearl farming.
Okay, you mentioned that you need a pond for pearl farming.
You need 5-6ft water. You can either have a natural pond or do a lined up pond.
How big is your pearl farm?
I have two ponds – the first is 20x25ft and the second one 50X80ft.
How is the production of the pearl farming?
You can make use of live oysters you find in the nearby ponds and rivers for pearl farming. You have to surgically implant an artificial nucleus into the tissue of the oyster.
To ease the irritation from a foreign body, the oyster releases a chemical called nacre that sticks on this foreign body to form a pearl. Care should be taken that the foreign body should not be so strong that the oyster dies and shouldn’t be too weak that it cannot sustain the chemical coating. This foreign body then turns into a pearl.
It takes 18-20 months to form a good quality pearl. It should be reared in freshwater and the oysters should be alive till the pearls are formed.
Are you happy with your pearl farming results? Is it profitable?
When you compare pearl farming and aromatic farming with traditional crops like rice and wheat, it is profitable. I am very happy with my farm and the output.
How old are you and what is your educational background?
I am 26 years old. I did my B Tech.
In 2016 I had tried out dairy farming. But, I couldn’t make profit and had to deal with a lot of issues. After a year, I started with pearl farming and then I started aromatic farming as well. Fortunately, it is going well.
What are your future plans?
I want to include a small dairy farm as well with Indian breed cows as well.
Are there any other issues you would want to speak about?
Marketing is a problem in my region.
The big cities are quite far away. Aromatic farming is supported by the government, so marketing gets supported too. But there is no support given for pearl farming. Farmers do not tend to experiment with anything new.
I have 10 acres of land. There are no buyers if we were to take the produce we could get from 10 acres of land to the market.
So, if farmers form a cluster, we can have a Farmer Produce Company. But it is not easy to convince farmers to try something new.
Have you thought about farmer producer company idea?
I have tried talking to the farmers in my area a lot. Nobody is ready to try anything new. They tell me to start something and show them if something fruitful happens. They want to see the profit before venturing into it. How is that possible?
Now, for lemon grass cultivation, a few people have got together with me and I have shared profits with them.
Contact Address :
Chandan Singh Patel
Village Parasauna, Post – Hinauta
Mirzapur – 231001