The computer engineer has set up a 1000-metric tonne capacity warehouse with the aid of NABARD
A computer engineer’s passion for the much-ignored agriculture is poised to make the agricultural community in his region self-reliant.
“I have been passionate about agriculture since my days at Vestry School, Tiruchi, and even after graduating in computer science, it continued to haunt me. My mission is to get remunerative price for the farmer and provide agro products at affordable costs to the consumer by eliminating the huge margin enjoyed by middlemen which is more than 50 per cent,” begins G.Karikalan, 45. “Ï want to provide rice, which is sold at Rs.40 a kg, at least for Rs.35 by forming a bridge between the producer and the consumer,” he adds.
Hailing from Keezhapatty, about 25 km from here, which used to look like a ‘lush green carpet’, he did work in software companies in Bangalore, Ahmadabad and Coimbatore after graduation in 1991, only to return in 2003 for taking up full-fledged agriculture, both organic and conventional. But he was forced to look after a software company in Chennai for two years from 2007.
But, he came back home once again only to set up a warehouse with a capacity of 1,000 metric tonnes for which National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) helped him get a loan of Rs.30 lakh. “This is the only private warehouse in Karur district,” points out A.Parthiban, District Development Manager, NABARD, Karur.
As Mr.Karikalan was trained as a master farmer by Saraswathi Krishi Vigyan Kendra, he became proficient in system of rice intensification method, sustainable sugarcane initiative, and marketing, ‘which is the weakest link in Indian agriculture,’ says Mr.Parthiban. Thus, Mr.Karikalan made the villages around his hamlet ‘totally SRI compatible.’
He then moved on to ‘clima rice’ production with Norway-funding and support of the ICAR and the TNAU. Then he started producing seedlings, including for major sugar mills. “First five months, I produced 1.2 lakh seedlings and this year I have produced six lakh seedlings that are sold throughout the State.” In June this year, he mobilised the support of farmers in 25 villages around his native place, made 200 of them shareholders in Nachalur Farmers’ Producer Company Ltd, each one paying an equity capital of Rs.20, 000, and incorporated it under the Company’s Act 1956. S.Sureshkumar, District Development Manager, NABARD, Tiruchi, points out that his organisation started promoting about two years ago the concept of ‘producers’ group’ like the one that Mr.Karikalan has now started.
Explaining the objectives of the company, Mr.Karikalan says it will first act as an ‘input supply shop’ on no-profit-no-loss basis. It will have a seed processing unit which will handle 150 tonnes of paddy and 100 tonnes of black gram. Then gradually the final products of all the agri-commodities like oil will also be available with it by procuring green gram, toor dal, groundnut, and gingili. “We want to have a modern rice mill too.”
While the farmers of the 25 villages owning about 5,000 acres will produce, the company will market their produce opening outlets. “Shortly, we are opening a fertilizer shop that will handle wholesale distribution of fertilizers and also pesticides.” Mr.Parthiban says that the project of Mr.Karikalan, which will require a loan of Rs.28 lakh, is under the active consideration of his bank.