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Uttarakhand Farmer Earns Rs 1 Crore by Growing Residue-Free Thai Guavas

Rajeev Bhaskar, an MBA graduate from Uttarakhand, left his job to pursue full-time farming, growing Thai guavas using a profitable technique known as residue-free farming.

Shruti Kandwal
Rajeev Bhaskar, progressive Thai guava farmer from Nainital
Rajeev Bhaskar, progressive Thai guava farmer from Nainital

Rajeev Bhaskar, who was born in Nainital, never imagined that the expertise he gathered while working at a seeds company in Raipur would one day help him become a prosperous farmer and entrepreneur.

He notes that during his almost four years as a member of the VNR Seeds company's sales and marketing team, he got the chance to speak with a number of farmers from various regions of the nation. They helped him understand the scope of agriculture and inspired him to start farming.

He said, “even though I have a BSc in agriculture until I started working with VNR Seeds, I had no aspirations to pursue farming as a career. During that time, I had even completed my MBA through distance learning. But as I dealt with the selling of seeds and saplings, I grew more interested in agriculture and finally wanted to try my hand at it.”

Along the way, he also gained knowledge of the range of the Thai guava variety. He adds, "I also interacted with farmers who planted them and guided them.

Rajeev followed his interest and left his work in 2017 to cultivate Thai guavas on the five acres of property he rented in Panchkula, Haryana. He does this by "residue-free" farming.

The 30-year-old agripreneur now has 25 acres of property, where he plants about 12,000 trees and earns an average profit of about Rs 6 lakh per acre.

Despite a long-term goal to begin farming, Rajeev claims he was hesitant to leave his stable place at the seeds firm. But in 2017, he was handed 5 acres of a guava plantation in Panchkula by a Thai guava farmer he had previously worked with since he couldn't properly care for it.

This proved to be a key moment in Rajeev's life since he resigned from his work and became a full-time farmer the same year.

"When I took over the farm, I realized that the growth of such fruit crops required the use of fertilizers as well as sufficient irrigation. Additionally, I wanted to guarantee that my fruit was clean and fit for human consumption. As a result, I switched to residue-free farming," he said.

What is residue-free farming?

Biocides and biofertilizers made from organic materials are used in residue-free farming to protect and promote the growth of crops. They occasionally include the use of chemicals, but only in a quantity that is safe for people's health.

According to Rajeev, “When growing in a region or a setting where chemical farming is not often practiced, organic farming works effectively. However, if the farms close to you use chemicals, maintaining an organic farm—which would be more vulnerable to pest attack—would be challenging. Large-scale organic or natural farming is a costly and labor-intensive undertaking. Additionally, the final yield will be less.” He also uses three-layer bagging, which is a key farming technique.

"We bag the fruits as soon as the flowers change into them to protect against damage and pest infestation. A foam net, an anti-fog polythene bag, and then a piece of a newspaper are used to cover the fruit.” According to him, this three-layer packing guarantees even color dispersion and the fruit's safe development till harvest.

He claims that the first crop was harvested and sold in October and November of 2017 after he took over the land. "In that year, I brought in a total of Rs 20 lakh. It gave me the courage to grow my business. So, I tried producing residue-free vegetables on a new plot of land (15 acres) close to the Mohali airport. But because I struggled to effectively promote my product, it didn't turn out as I had hoped," he explained.

Rajeev opted to remain with Thai guava growing after experiencing failure with vegetables by recruiting three other investors. As a result, they leased 55 acres of land in Rupnagar, Punjab, in 2019 and planted guava trees there.

"We planted guava trees on 25 acres, and I kept working on the Panchkula plantation's 5 acres until the land's owner chose to sell it off in 2021. I had to give up the first farm since I also wanted to concentrate on the 25 acres," said Rajeev.

According to him, guava trees begin bearing fruit between the second and third year after planting and produce about 10 kilograms per plant. With time, the production rises to an average of 25 kg per plant. "I hope to reach the 40 kg average maximum yield of a single guava plant in the upcoming years," he continued.

"Two times a year, once in the rainy season and once in the winter, guava plants are picked. But in order to minimize competition from other types and sellers, we only harvest during the rainy season. After that, we gave the plants a vacation, " he explained.

He claims, "we deliver all of our goods in 10-kg crates to the Delhi APMC market, where we receive payment in a week. Depending on the season and quality, the price per kilogram varies between Rs 40 and Rs 100. At the moment, I employ about 14 agricultural employees, and we make Rs 6 lakh per acre on average."

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