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A farmer with A midas touch

Unlike other villagers for whom landing a government job was the ultimate dream, Bahadur Singh Verma of Saproon valley chose farming as a career for himself.

Written by Arvindkashyap | Solan |
October 24, 2008 12:03:51 am

Unlike other villagers for whom landing a government job was the ultimate dream, Bahadur Singh Verma of Saproon valley chose farming as a career for himself.

After years of sweat and toil, converting stony stretches into agricultural land, this progressive farmer has now become a role model not only for the villages of Himachal Pradesh but also for farmers across the country.

Verma, who began as a stone digger in a quarry, turned to agriculture as a full-time profession after completing his high school education in 1960. His family owned only 18 bighas of land — mostly rocky and uneven terrain — which held no promise of making both ends meet.

“I was always encouraged by my uncle, the late D C Mehta, and the former head of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kandaghta, Dr A S Kashyap, to conduct more and more trials of various vegetable crops,” said Verma.

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With a Rs 500 loan from his father and after getting permission from the government, Verma started by digging out stones from his wasteland. After growing cauliflower in the early sixties, he first returned the money his father gave him. He standardised production technology of off-season vegetables by adopting hybrid cultivation.

After cultivating beans and peas with bamboo support as an inter-crop, he used bamboo poles as support for hybrid tomatoes soon. After this, he introduced co-operative farm packaging and marketing systems for vegetable crops and stone fruits in the valley. He succeeded in isolating three late flowering groups of cauliflower for seed production by producing 117 kg of cauliflower seed in 0.08 hectares. He also introduced strawberry as an inter-crop. The Lata, Poonam and Parkash varieties have not only become popular among the farmers of Himachal but are also being adopted by farmers of neighbouring states.

Not content with his success with vegetables, Verma also developed a new method of “hand pollination” in his small Kiwi fruit orchard and grew 1.6 quintal of Kiwi fruit from a single plant. With a biogas plant, a wind power plant and solar power panels on his farm, Verma says he is saving more than Rs 50,000 annually on power.

Verma, who is also a member of the Extension and Research council of Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, has so far been conferred with various national-level awards including the ASPEE award, Jagjeevan Ram Kisan Purskar of ICAR, Delhi, and the Kisan Shiromani Samman.

Over the years, Saproon valley, situated on the northern side of Solan town, has become known for the cultivation of off-season vegetables, stone fruits and production of temperate fruits and cash crops, with an annual turnover of more than Rs 20 crore.

Underlining the need for better linkages between scientists and farmers, Verma said that marketing was the single factor that affects a growers’ returns. Since value addition is the national priority, more technology should be made available to the farmers for better use of surplus farm produce, he added.

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