Diversification, foresight and innovation by farmers themselves can make agriculture immensely profitable, said farmer Rauf Saheb Banavasi at the discussion on the profitability and satisfaction of farming held at Alva’s Vishwa Nudisiri-Virasat here on Saturday.

Mr. Banavasi is testament to this. From just an acre of paddy fields four decades ago, he now owns nearly 250 acres of agricultural land and the owner of the largest pineapple farm and processing unit in Sirsi.

“Whatever profit I got from the paddy field, I used to buy more fields. There is a reward – however low it can be – after a full day’s work,” he said.

After a tour of Moodbidri’s Soans farm, which had pioneered pineapple cultivation in the region, Mr. Banavasi took up pineapple farming around 1970. He now gets around 35 tonnes of pineapples, the profit of which runs into crores, he said.

Apart from that, diversification into banana, papaya cultivation brings in big money, said the farmer.

“It is a wrong notion that agriculture is not profitable. With a little bit of enterprise, it can be among the most profitable professions. I know of a couple that makes Rs. 3 crore a year by successfully cultivating pepper,” he said.

Problems such as labour shortage can be dealt with by adopting mechanisation or by attracting labourers from Bihar and Orissa to work in the farms. “You can skim on farm hands or pay them less. By employing the number of people required, and paying them enough, the productivity will increase drastically,” he said.

Foresight

Similarly, foresight – for example, by anticipating disease and keeping the remedy in hand – will help the farm prosper, said Mr. Banavasi.

Commenting on the experiment, Dharmasthala Dharmadhikari D. Veerendra Heggade said farmers here had the mentality of status quo, that is, they believed that no other crop could be cultivated apart from those grown by their forefathers. “With a little information about the other crops, a great change is possible in farming,” he said.