When the company he worked for was celebrating lavish annual function at Goa, India my husband Gaurav Chaudhary was bringing 20 calves from outskirts of Delhi to the deep interiors of Uttar Pradesh where he is actively engaged in Agroforestry, Dairy and Agribusiness.
Gaurav, post graduated in Economics from prestigious Delhi School of Economics in 2006, worked for few months as an economic analyst with WNS Global Services and quit his high profile job for farming. Having grown up in farming family he knew how much an educated youth like him could contribute to farming community and village if they work with full enthusiasm and determination in agriculture.
My father in law Chaudhary Veerpal Singh was the first person in the village to plant Poplar trees on farm in 1987 when West India Match Company launched an extensive campaign in North India to motivate farmers to adopt poplar based agroforestry as the local matchwood and timber companies were facing acute shortage of supply of wood. Since this was new to farmers and required a waiting period of 7 years farmers were reluctant to plant it. “ I thought it to be my responsibility to promote trees on farms as it would not only save our forests from being cut but also benefit our environment in long run”, recalls Chaudhary Veerpal Singh.
Gaurav had seen his farmer father Chaudhary Veerpal Singh working hard throughout the year to take best yields of crops so that he could be educated. “ In school only I had decided that after completing my higher studies I will go back to my village and get involved in farming , modernize agriculture and improve attitude and perception of people towards this very important sector of our economy.”
Gaurav ‘s passion for farming and for rural India inspired me too and after completing my MSC Business Economics from University Of Surrey , London I married him in 2011. Both of us are thoroughly enjoying our work and it gives us immense satisfaction that with our intelligence, good education background we are actually transforming our village. We raise very good poplar plantations on farm, guide farmers on right practices of growing poplar, eucalyptus trees and other crops. With good returns from trees and crops we are continuously growing in related areas as well. We are expanding our dairy farm where we rear H.F cows and sell milk in city. Dairy and agriculture go very well together. Farmer can earn daily from milk by selling it and make their soil rich by adding cow dung. In order to improve farmers know how on running successful dairy farm we have also set up an association called Progressive Dairy Farmers Association, U.P wherein regular meetings with Dairy experts are conducted.
Our Journey from agriculture to agroforestry, from agroforestry to Dairy Enterprise and further to Agro inputs business shows endless opportunities for growth and innovation offered by Agriculture. I and my husband are earning more in agriculture than we could have earned in Corporate.
Farming needs intelligence, good know-how, and lot of professionalism to carry complex agricultural operations. We need to change our attitude and perception towards farming and I request youth to come up with green thumb and not to underestimate farming. Agriculture has the potential to provide them with not only very good income but also the chance to transform rural India.
Seeing us many farmers in the region started planting poplar on their farms. Small farmers plant poplar and eucalyptus on boundary while large farmers plant block plantations of poplar trees and grow intercrops underneath which ensure them annual returns. They are further diversifying to Dairy and Poultry farming. They now feel proud of their work and realize how much they can grow if they work with sincerity on their farms.
Not to forget poplar based agroforestry has improved lives of farmers with its higher returns, provided security against crop failures due to extreme weather and climatic conditions; reduced regular engagement and attendance on high input intensive culture of other crops and provided financial stability to farmers. Higher returns from agroforestry facilitated farmers to give their children best education. It has opened an avenue for youth to grow in agriculture.
The Net Present Value of returns from poplar agroforestry per acre per year (1 acre = 0.4 hectare) turns out to be USD 2000 compared to just USD 491 from paddy- wheat rotation the traditional agriculture practice followed in this Pilibhit, U.P. Poplar has become popular among farmers as it is ready for harvest in 6 years, allows intercropping with it, meets fuel wood requirement of farmers, needs less management compared to other farming practices. Agroforestry is to some extent also playing a positive role in reigniting the love of youth for farming which is also very important if we’re to meet the challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050.
I request educated youth to come back to their roots and give shade to many people who have worked hard in fields day and night to feed them. Youth can transform rural India with its great determination and hence make tremendous contribution to society and environment.
Photo: Nikki and Gaurav Chaudhary (center) and their staff on their farm’s poplar tree plot
Blogpost and photo by Nikki Pilania Chaudhary/Chaudhary Farms (Pilibhit,India) – chaudharyfarms(at)gmail.com
This post is entry nr #3 in our #WCA2014 blog competition. The five blogposts with the most and highest votes will receive a signed copy of the book "Trees for Life". The most popular blogpost will get an iPad.
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