Article and Image Courtesy : The Hindu
Author : M. J. Prabu
Ramana Killi driving the paddy transplanter
There seems to be genuine concerns now that farming may be fast becoming a rich man's hobby; no more a poor man's livelihood.
“Nobody seems to be really bothering about the catastrophe waiting to happen to food production soon. Shrinking lands, declining crop yields and disinterested government policies are all driving this sector towards a dangerous end,” cautions Mr. Ramana Babu Killi, Executive Director, Green Basics, an agriculture start up company in Andhra Pradesh.
“Even the common man knows that this area is important for providing food and he needs to play a strong role in sustaining it, but an awareness is missing.
No change in lifestyle
“Most of the rural people are just not excited about agriculture. In the last 15 years the price of one kg of rice has risen from Rs 3-4 a kg to Rs 35-42 a kg. “But the lifestyle of the farmer who grows the rice has deteriorated from bad to worse. The rise in price has not helped him live a better quality of life,” he says.
Coming from a village in Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh and also a graduate in this line, Mr. Ramana says he nurtured an idea of trying to do something for the people in his region and thought that by starting an organisation would be a good move since it can give a shape to his ideas.
The result was Green Basics, started three years ago.
“Through this I dream of providing a comprehensive solution to farmers' problems, from seed to seed and to make agriculture sustainable,” he explains.
Presently Green Basics works among paddy farmers in AP to help boost production through mechanization and optimization. They offer integrated services to farmers – providing high quality seeds, cultivating saplings, mechanized transplantation of the saplings from the nursery to field, and post transplantation care. They charge around Rs 3,000 for their services.
Their customers are typically small landholders, owning 1-2 acres of land.
“So far the response from the farmers is great, as they are more than happy to pay for these services. Farmers benefit from increased savings, not having to pay for the seeds and labour, and above all a 20 per cent increase in production,” says Mr. Ramana.
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