Making Passions Profitable
Working hard to balance his career as a teacher with his passion for farming, M Suresh, a villager in Melakothamangalam, Tamil Nadu, has sought the help and guidance of the Reliance Foundation toll-free helpline, every step of the way.
M Suresh was anxious about the future of his family farm. Together with his father and his younger brother, the 28-year-old resident of Melakothamangalam village in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, was struggling to restore the farm’s fertility and sustain the family’s agricultural business.
While Suresh was a teacher by profession, he had always felt that farming was his true calling. Growing up in a family of farmers, he was at home in the fields – but his family members had encouraged him to pursue academics.
He had gone on to become the first graduate in his family and even obtained an MBA degree, after which he started teaching at a private school in the town of Karaikal, nine kilometres away from his village. Suresh’s family owned two acres of land and had been cultivating it for decades. Earlier, its fields were always blanketed with green, and no pesticides were needed to grow profitable yields of brinjal, gourd, lady’s finger and cotton. But over the years, the farm’s fertility had declined considerably. The family’s monthly profits through farming had dwindled to Rs 5,000-6,000 – utterly insufficient to sustain a family of five.
With Suresh’s job as a teacher paying him a mere Rs 9,000 a month, he was determined to revive the farm’s profitability and contribute to his family’s agricultural business. He decided to attend an awareness programme conducted by Reliance Foundation in his village. At the session, he learnt about the RF toll-free helpline number, which he could call to clarify his queries on farming.
Suresh had been facing persistent problems with his brinjal crop – root rot, roundworm infestation, and attacks from pests such as leaf insects and shoot borers had caused his crops to fail repeatedly. Each time something went wrong, Suresh would rush to the local chemist, who prescribed expensive and usually ineffective pesticides.
This time, however, he called the RF helpline number, and was connected to an agricultural expert, who guided him on how to prepare a medicated solution and spray it on his brinjal crop. He received detailed instructions on measurements and methods of application.
Weeks after he followed the expert’s advice, Suresh’s brinjal yields started improving. Soon, he was harvesting around 80 kg of the vegetable in his farm every week, and selling it at the Sunday market in Karaikal. On each of the three months of the brinjal season, Suresh earned around Rs 4,800 by selling the vegetable. Delighted with his bumper brinjal crop, Suresh started reaching out to the RF helpline more often for guidance. A quick phone call helped him save his bitter gourd crop from yellow mosaic and green leaf hopper infestations. When his crops started shedding fruits and flowers in the wake of heavy rains, he dialled the toll-free number yet again, and applied the solution recommended by the expert.
With each phone call, Suresh’s confidence as a farmer grew. He says, “Today, vegetables are the chief source of income for my family. Selling brinjal, lady’s finger, gourd, bitter gourd, and snake gourd earns me a profit of Rs 12,000-15,000 every month.” Carefully saving part of this increased income, Suresh’s family is now building a house, and planning for his sister’s wedding. The family also has a constant supply of nutritious fruits and vegetables.
Eager to learn more skills that he can apply on his farm, Suresh now makes it a point to attend each RF programme held in his village – from awareness programmes, training sessions, Demo sessions to field reviews. He often seeks direct guidance from agricultural experts through the Jio-enabled 4G video-conferencing facility. At other times, he uploads photographs of any ailing crops onto a WhatsApp platform, so that experts can identify the problem and immediately recommend solutions.
With the support of diverse RF-enabled information channels, Suresh has been seamlessly balancing his duties on the farm and in the classroom. Thanking RF for helping shape him into the confident farmer he is today, he says, “Had I not met the team from Reliance Foundation, I would have lost all hope and given up farming. They played a big role in my life. With the Foundation by their side, farmers no longer need to worry.”