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Meet Vijay Dandime Who is Earning Rs. 2 Lakh from Guavas in a Sugarcane-Dominated Region

In Maharashtra, a farmer named Vijay Dandime has shifted from sugarcane to guava farming, earning significantly higher income with reduced water usage.

Shivam Dwivedi
Meet Vijay Dandime Who is Earning Rs. 2 Lakh from Guavas in a Sugarcane-Dominated Region
Meet Vijay Dandime Who is Earning Rs. 2 Lakh from Guavas in a Sugarcane-Dominated Region

Maharashtra has almost 13.4 lakh hectares of land under sugarcane cultivation, which makes up for 22% of the total land area under cultivation, as of 2022-23, with 217 sugar mills applying for license for operation in 2023-24, which explains the overreliance on sugarcane among the farmers, as water-intensive as the crop is. But some farmers have begun to choose differently, and are getting financially rewarded too, with their input costs coming down to nil! Bonus- water gets saved in a drought-prone state! Here’s one such inspirational story from a Latur farmer.  

33-Year-Old Vijay Dandime Got into Farming as a Last Resort

Vijay Dandime finished his bachelor’s degree before working as a professor for a year at a private college, before realizing that 9-5 jobs weren’t meant for him. But soon he struggled to find any other meaningful job. His father, who is a farmer, bought a tractor in 2005 and used it for commercial purposes. His father would grow crops like soyabean, green chickpeas, and toor dal, relying exclusively on chemicals for yield and pest control, which would push up their overall input costs considerably. From an output of Rs.40,000 per acre, their chemical input cost would be around Rs.20,000.

Having found no other sustainable job, Vijay decided to join his father in farming in 2014. Vijay did a few odd jobs and drove the tractor to make some extra money. They saved up to purchase 10 acres of land in addition to their existing 2 acres, to take farming more seriously after attending The Art of Living’s natural farming training with Mahadev Gomare, a senior natural farming expert.

Guava Farm of Vijay Dandime
Guava Farm of Vijay Dandime

“Teachers from Art of Living came to Gangapur to take a workshop for 2 months. They trained us not just in natural farming but also taught us yoga, meditation, and a breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya. They also handed us seeds of guava and custard apple along with teaching us how to grow it,” Vijay said.

One problem irked Vijay a lot- the overdependence of farmers on a water-intensive crop like sugarcane in a region that is constantly water-starved.

Shifting from Sugarcane to Guava Farming: A Sustainable Approach

In summer, Gangapur in Latur meets its water needs by bringing in water through tankers but farmers continue to grow sugarcane owing to the ready demand for it from the nearby sugar mills. “Farmers are very scared to change their farming pattern for fear of losing their money. There is very little awareness about the water situation and possible alternatives available to them. Growing guava in such a region can be a blessing as it gives you more money and consumes much less water,” Vijay shares, “I haven’t been keen on sugarcane. It takes a lot of water. We have to be careful about our water resources. Farmers in my village who have land near water bodies grow sugarcane and don’t think about other farmers.”

He suggests that farmers who practice in areas with less water should shift to less water-guzzling crops that don’t dig deep holes in the farmers’ pockets. “Since I started growing guava, I make Rs. 2 lakh from every acre. I spend almost nothing on input cost. The best part is, guava requires 3 times less water than sugarcane. Growing guava and other fruits is part of the big picture that every farmer needs to see. Now, I am more aware of the need to preserve our biodiversity and natural resources. I do not use water extensively. I take care of my soil by nourishing it with natural ingredients and formulations like Jeevamrut that I can make at home. And while doing all of this, I am making more money than any other farmer.”

Since 2015 Vijay’s family has stopped doing the tractor-based odd jobs and got into farming full-time on their 12-acre land. “While our soyabean, chickpea, and toor just gave us Rs. 40,000, the guava plant now gives around 2 lakh per acre. I started with growing guava on 2 acres of land but now I am planning to extend it to 2 more acres. All of this is naturally grown and healthy. I slowly want to convert all my land into natural farming and will encourage all the farmers to do it.'

Vijay's father, Lakshman in the Guava farm
Vijay's father, Lakshman in the Guava farm

Vijay has two kids whose education he is comfortably able to manage logistically and financially. He has been saving up for their future as well. This comes as much relief in a state where farmer suicides owing to despondency over crop failure and spoilage due to climate extremes and the resultant debt cycle has ruled the headlines for several years now.

Art of Living's Impact: Empowering Farmers and Restoring Agriculture

In November last year, The Art of Living entered into two mission-critical MOUs with the Government of Maharashtra that promise to restore the agricultural glory of the land while addressing the water woes in the state that have been at the root of the agricultural crisis in the state.

As a first, the Government of Maharashtra signed an MoU with The Art of Living to implement natural farming across 13 lakh hectares in Maharashtra. The Art of Living has trained 22 lakh farmers all over the country in Natural Farming techniques, while also partnering with stakeholders to provide robust markets for the agricultural goods produced.

Given The Art of Living’s proven track record in revitalizing and rejuvenating about critical 70 rivers and tributaries in India that had run dry for decades, with 34.5 million beneficiaries and counting, the Government of Maharashtra also signed another MOU to implement ‘Jal Yukta Shivirs’ 2.0 in 24 districts across 85 tehsils in Maharashtra facing water shortage.

“I make Rs.5-7 lakhs in farming. I have a happy family. I use water efficiently in a water deficit area. I do meditation daily and have not been this happy in my life before,' Vijay said.

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