Bathinda, Punjab: On the one hand, a majority of Malwa farmers are growing two major crops — cotton and paddy — and on the other, 39-year-old Gurcharan Singh Mann of Tungwali village in this district has adopted crop diversification and subsidiary occupations.
With his hard work and progressive approach, Mann has converted his 42-acre field, which was full of sand dunes earlier, into a spot of attraction. Fish ponds, honey bee farm, mushroom production, flower fields, orchard, bio-gas plant, nursery, unit for grinding and packing spices, huge water storage tank, wheat grading machine, etc have now come up on the land. As of the details, Mann converted 10 acres into fish ponds, 10 acres into orchard, five acres for green fodder, about 16 acres as field for trees and other crops.
The state government has selected his place under the Punjab Rural Tourism plan, under which if a person wants to have a feel of Punjab, he may visit Mann’s place for which the latter would be paid for hospitality.
Ask Mann about his success mantra and he replies quality.
Mann also does social work of motivating farmers and rural youths to get trained and start diversified farming. “Farming is a profession, which is incomparable,” he believes.
The diversification is much more beneficial than going for the traditional cotton and paddy crops. “Everybody criticised me in the beginning. But my decision has proved me right and my critics now buy fish, honey, wood trees or other crops from me,” said Mann.
Initially, Mann got publicity for honey bee farming. It fetched him a number of awards and certificates. Beside other awards, Mann retains the Parvasi Bharti Award for being an innovative farmer in diversified farming issued by the Punjab Agricultural University in 2005.
At present, he has about 2,000 boxes of honey bees.
Later, he took initiative in fish farming, orchards and then sowed thousands of saplings of various species of trees, which he assumes was a source of hefty income.
Mann surprised all with the well-grown Banana trees in a dusty village of Malwa.
His orchard has banana, jamun, amla, berries, guava and pomegranate trees. Considering the demand for Aloevera, Mann is growing it on about an acre of land. He supplies spices to the Agmark that he grows, grind and pack on his own but under the supervision of an Agmark official.
“If a farmer commits suicide, people start blaming the occupation. They rule out the actual reason, which could be his illiteracy and being hooked to only one crop. I wish all to be vigilant about the happening all around and adopt as of the time need,” said Mann.