Farmer-led innovations: Entrepreneurship or livelihood?

Farmers become entrepreneurs when they take their own innovations to the next level. Photo: ML Jat

Farmers are silently innovating, adopting new practices and continuously improving. Innovations are a blend of traditional knowledge and modern science. At the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2) in Punta del Este, Uruguay, farmer led innovations has been highlighted as a major focus area.

A smallholder farmer “Kanwal Singh Chauhan” from Haryana in India narrates his story from being a resource poor farmer to an entrepreneur, in his own words. He started cultivating basmati (scented) rice in 1980, mini dairy in 1984 and bio-gas in 1987.  In 1987, he came in contact with corn experts and started growing baby corn, exotic vegetables, preparing vermi-compost, bee keeping, mushroom production, sweet corn and hybrid baby corn and rice. He tells that after adopting baby corn, his real success as an agricultural businessman started.

Chauhan established his own processing unit for baby corn at his farm which fetched him a good income. Now he earns around US$ 3500 to 4500 from one hectare of the baby corn cultivation and US$ 2000-2500 from sweet corn cultivation. The leftover stalks of baby corn are a good fodder for the livestock. In this way, he has now livestock rearing also which not only fetches him additional income but improves their health and milk production.

He has established integrated unit of mushroom cultivation under guidance from Haryana Kisan Ayog (Farmer Commission Government of Haryana) . Along with that he established a unit of honey bee production. Additional income from agriculture has also provided Chauhan options to set up a Bio-Tech Unit of Bio-fertilizers.

Recently he has started a farmer school, and trainees from Bihar and farmers from Nepal took training at his school. He is also delighted that Dignitaries from India and farmers from Afghanistan and Germany have visited his farm and applauded his multi-enterprise innovative enterprises. Such progressive farmers and GFAR efforts can create billions of Chauhans globally and create a sustainable global agricultural system.

Blogpost by Yash, one of the GCARD2 social reporters.

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