This Krishi Pandit Award winner, who turned what was barren land a decade ago into a lush green horticulture farm through a mixture of organic and conventional farming is not like any other farmer.

He is a swami heading a revered religious math with a large following in the district.

Sri Gurupadalinga Mahaswami, who heads the Virakta Math here, single-handedly converted 25 acres of barren land into a virtual gold-mine.

Recognising his contribution in the field of agriculture and horticulture, the State Government awarded him the prestigious Krishi Pandit award this year.

The swami participates in every aspect of agriculture, right from the preparation of the land, tilling, sowing and harvesting of the crop. He spends at least 10 hours in the fields supervising operations and has constructed a small farmhouse in the centre of the horticulture farm to be nearer to his work.

When the swami took charge of the math 25 years ago, after the death of Sri Chennaveera Shivayogi, the math only had five acres of dry land. The young swami, through sheer hard work and dedication, purchased another 20 acres of land.

The agriculture and horticulture farm owned by the math is self sufficient. It has an open well and three high-yielding borewells that provide sufficient water for the farms. The water management techniques followed by him has earned him many laurels. The entire horticulture farm is watered through drip irrigation; not a single drop of water goes waste. To improve the water table in the village, the swami donated five acres of land for constructing a tank and that has helped in improving the groundwater levels in the village.

The farm has its own vermicompost manufacturing unit that produces 200 tonnes of vermicompost from 18 pits a year. “Besides using the vermicompost to enrich the soil, 50 per cent of the compost is sold at the rate of Rs. 300 a quintal to farmers,” said agricultural scientist Raju Teggalli, who is the guiding force behind the success of the experiment of Sri Gurupadalinga Mahaswamigalu.

Dr. Teggalli, who heads the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) and works as an entomologist in the Agriculture Research Centre here, said from time to time the KVK provides technical help to the swamiji for following the correct agricultural practices and water management techniques.

The swami established a grape farm five years ago using technological backup from the KVK. Now the farm is one of the most successful experiments in producing raisins in the district.

On an average, the farm produces more than 10 tonnes of qood quality golden raisins which fetches a good price in the market.

The farm has one of the biggest scientifically established sheds, which can at a time hold 10 tonnes of grapes a day.

Other crops

The swami has also taken up cultivation of sugarcane on a small patch of land and is experimenting with the “paired row method of planting of sugarcane” which helps in retaining the moisture levels on the land for a longer period resulting in a higher yield. Traditional crops like jowar, red and green gram and vegetables are also grown.

The agriculture activities on the farm also provides employment for the womenfolk in the village, who get a monthly salary of more than Rs. 1,500. The horticulture and agriculture farm is frequented by the farmers from other districts as well.

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