Ravi Nishad has helped 400 farmers pursue organic farming in Dhanbad to help improve the environment and economy of the region.
Ravi Nishad holds a B.Sc. (IT) degree from NIT Noida. Dhanbad in Jharkhand is a sink of coal mines and pollution is a matter of grave concern there. In 2014, Ravi’s mother fell ill facing respiratory problems and passed away, which left Ravi in distress. He decided to do something to change the environmental scenario in Dhanbad.
He started small plantation drives in various parts of Bhuli by launching an NGO, Samparpan Seva Samiti. However, he soon realized he had to do something bigger for the entire community. Something more socially and economically sustainable was needed. Ravi noticed something about the plight of farmers in the region. The pollutants from nearby mines affected the crops. Also, many young people moved to cities to pursue better jobs. He also learned that many farmers were selling their land or choosing other occupations. The conditions of these farmers weren’t great.
This gave Ravi an idea to work for the betterment of the farming conditions in the area. To equip them with better skills and knowledge. Ravi then quit his job in 2016. He along with his childhood friend, Ranjit Kumar, 30 and a young scientist, Amit Mishra, 24, formed a core committee. They launched RPA Farming, a producing company for farmers. It is an organization that is willing to take risks in the pursuit of changing the traditional ways of agriculture and its supply.
The team started carrying out organic farming methods at different places. They used 2 acres of land in Bhuli and 20 acres of land near Shakti Chowk of Tetulmari. They are trying out various methods to produce organically and also work on barren lands. Soon they became well-versed with using natural substances like cow dung as manure; vinegar, cow urine, gram flour, jaggery and crop residue to grow crops organically. They have taken barren land on lease to demonstrate to farmers the pros of organic farming. Initially, they started cultivating papaya and marigold. Now they have also added fruit crops like guava, litchi and pomegranate and chikoo.
Nishad says that now the 20-acre land yields 100 kgs of marigold every day from each acre. ”We sell it to local florists and nearby markets,” says Nishad. Their 2000 papaya trees produce 50 tonnes a day, each weighing about 2 to 2.5 kgs. With having 140 acres of leased land, the company earns upto Rs. 50 Lakh a month. In 4 years, the team has connected with over 2000 farmers, successfully converting 400 into organic farmers. Some farmers have doubled their income since they switched to Ravi’s organic farming techniques.
WORKING OF RPA FARMING:
The RPA Farming offers various services like organic farming and training, Horti/flori culture, fertilizer cultivation, etc. The RPA has been working with 100+ workers and on 10+ sites.
The main issue faced by the team was to convince these farmers. Many of them were comfortable with their traditional methods. They hesitated to switch to organic farming. “Initially, the farmers felt that changing to organic farming was unnecessary and chose to rely on previous trusted practices of using chemicals. Hence, we started showing them demos in small areas and in clusters to show the benefits of organic farming,” he says. It also took additional efforts to convince them to grow flowers and fruits.
The Covid-19 pandemic was one advantage to them. Many people migrated back to the village from cities. The only option they had was to farm in the village. Ravi gathered such people and convinced them and made them adapt to this economically sustainable source of income. Due to this, the locals have now got more close to their land and understood its importance.
Talking about their marketing strategy, “We used social media platforms to promote our harvest and find potential buyers”. It has also helped them tap into markets outside Dhanbad in turn increasing their sales. Check out, https://rpafarming.com/
Ravi Nishad hopes that Dhanbad is known for being the fruit capital of the country in the near future. According to him, it can help increase economic as well as environmental prosperity.
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