IT professional manages farm in Pune remotely
Managing agriculture farm in Tirunelveli from Pune which is 1500 Kms away!! Remote farm management sounds familiar but yet difficult to visualize. Putting all doubts to rest, Mr. Narayanan Alwar says, “Yes, I am managing the farm from remote as I am still working in Pune in IT for a Telecom company. This is what I want to experiment and share with the world. It is both challenge and joy. I want to show my fellow IT guys who also wish to do farming while working.”
Mr. Alwar also admits that with the permission of his spouse, who would not agree at all in the beginning, he is contributing a nominal amount from his salary to farm salary and development. Still smiling he shares, “Being born and brought up in Ooty, my heart was full of green. I always dreamed to grow responsible food one day. Also when in Hyderabad for long time, I felt the need to contribute something to society, especially growing food. After learning about many people quitting farming, I decided to take this challenge and hence this venture.”
After going through the roller-coaster ride for some time, finally in 2010 Radhamurali Farms was set up. It is an organic farm and supports multispecies. Why multispecies? To this he says, “Having studied in different states of India I have seen crops growing under different climatic conditions and also going through the success stories of different farmers, I am convinced that most of all varieties can be grown in the farm. Therefore I opted for multi-species organic farm.” Elaborating a little more he says, “This means at my farm I will grow all vegetables (country), fruits, flowers, trees, and shrubs. It will be almost like a botanical garden.” Must be useful for botany students!
Investments in agri projects are huge as everyone mentions! Mr. Alwar says 90% of the total project cost went towards purchase of land. He did some calculations, “I bought 15 acres of land (I assumed Rs. 50,000 profit per acre per year to sustain myself) for 1.5 lacs per acre. I wanted to focus on first 5 acres. Then there was a huge expenditure on clearing the ground of thorns and fencing the ground followed by gate and boring. That cost me around 3 lakhs. Fencing is a must because I cannot guarantee protection to crop since I am not physically present.” Entire farm operations are handled by a small team led by Subbu.
Challenges as a farmer today:
· Cooperation from neighborhood is dwindling nowadays. Farmer cannot expect any help from anyone. He has to fight a lonely battle.
· Help from government and others is only on paper. On ground, farmer has to manage everything himself.
· No proper guidance from anyone. The ecosystem is highly polluted with consultants only working for profits.
· Companies want to dump their agri products, and therefore there are many false claims.
· Due to erratic weather conditions farmers have to be extremely careful and efficient. Margin of error allowed is very less.
Mr. Alwar recommends training for farming and citing the reason he says, “Training is required for primary workers. People in village have forgotten the best practices of organic methods. Therefore sending them to training is a must and I have done that. They enjoy going and meeting fellow farmers and learn something useful to their life. They show more loyalty to me after the training.”
City people get upset for everything including a disruption in cable TV for a moment. But a farmer is losing his entire 6 months of crop in one rain. How much stress should he feel? But is he showing it? He takes stress maturely because he knows there are things that are not in his control and he has a positive mindset to accept and proceed. This philosophical and positive mindset needs to be revived.
Uniqueness and interesting elements in farming are always added by IT people turned farmers. Mr. Alwar too brings some attention-grabbing features such as he installed a large mechanical wind pump to draw water from the borewell of the farm. “I have planned to do organic farming of all native vegetables. Establish a waste recycle mechanism; create permaculture techniques to conserve water. I am also looking for an optimum solar solution at a low cost. On the social front I want to keep a goshala for cows and plant trees. I also want to demonstrate using non-conventional renewable energy for the farm with minimum farm inputs,” he adds. Radhamurali Farms soon shall be a model farm for fellow farmers and agriculture students and Mr. Alwar a model farmer in the neighborhood.
Established in 2010, the farm has received its first commercial sales in 2013. This year they have gone for large plantations mainly banana and sweet potato. In no hurry to earn money on agriculture investment, Mr. Alwar is totally enjoying the complete experience as he became a farmer because of his passion. He signs off saying, “Presently I want to develop the farm and would invite everyone to read my experience from radhamuralifarms.blogspot.in and benefit from it. I may succeed or fail, but I will share it with others.”
Mr. Narayanan Alwar is working in IT past 27 years. He has 16 years of experience in Telecom. He completed B.Sc Maths from St. Johns College, Palayamkottai and did his PG from XLRI.
604, Granada B, Fortaleza, Kalyani Nagar, Pune 410014, Maharashtra
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