Chakwara (Bihar): Manish Kumar, Arun Kumar Singh, Dinesh Kumar and Sunil Kumar are farmers with a difference. They are growing cauliflower seeds instead of traditional crops in acres of lease land, which has increased their income and changed their lives.
Dozens of other small and marginal farmers like them are happy in their native village, Chakwara in Vaishali district “Sowing of cauliflower seeds has changed the face of the village, as it is quite profitable,” said Sunil.
Arun said that the decision of the farmers—who were struggling for survival until a decade ago—to shift to cauliflower seeds proved something unexpected. It has resulted in success in terms of income as well as market unlike paddy, wheat or any other crop.
The farmers give credit to Sanjeev Kumar, a progressive farmer from the village, who is considered to be the brain behind this idea.
“It was neither easy nor free from problems. Initially, only a few farmers switched to cauliflower cultivation, as farmers feared losses. However, after some of the villagers made profit, it inspired others and it has become a trend here,” said Sanjeev.
Sanjeev said that he, along with a group of unemployed educated youths in the village, set up Annadata Krishak Club in 2005 with the help of NABARD and Bank of India, and started seed farming using scientific training and high-tech approach.
Like Chakwara, there are dozens of villages in Vaishali where nearly 500 farmers are cultivating cauliflower seeds. They are supplying quality cauliflower seeds across the country and abroad through agents—mostly exporters. They have been cultivating and supplying around 10 tonnes of seeds annually, which are sold directly or through small and big traders, Sunil said.
Sanjeev said that the farmers have been selling the seeds for Rs 3000 to Rs 20,000 per kg, depending on the quality.
“Due to lack of export license, farmers have, so far, not been able to supply the produce directly to foreign countries despite demand. Some farmers have applied for export license. We are hopeful,” he added.
Small and marginal farmers like Sanjeev, who do not own big enough land, have taken land on lease or contract to grow cauliflower seeds. Hard labour has brought prosperity for them thanks to seed economy, he said.
Many such farmers from Chakwara and neighbourinng villages like Lodipur, Rambhadra, Meenapur, Karanpura, Nawada Khurd, Daulatpur and Senduari have become affluent, owing to the seed farming.
Cauliflower seeds from Chakwara and other villages in Vaishali have made their own name and brand—recognised across the country.
Sanjeev, who has received several awards for his innovation in seed farming, said that youths of Chakwara and other villages, which have adopted seed farming on large scale, are least interested in government jobs or migration for other jobs. “Most of the youths are into seed farming, as opportunity and income are better in this than any other job,” he claimed.
During the ongoing winter season, farmers can be seen working in hundreds of acres of land. All around, there is light to bright yellow flowers covering the fields in several villages—of cauliflower seeds, which have become a symbol of happiness.
“It has become the main source of our livelihood, has given us name, fame and money. Look at the lifestyle of the villagers in Chakwara. They have modern houses like in any urban locality with all the basic amenities like television, air-conditioner, two and four wheelersm, for comfortable living,” said Ranjeet Kumar, another farmer.