Personal marketing is the only way to end exploitation by middlemen
Conferring titles and honours on celebrities has become commonplace, but conferring a honouris causa (honorary doctorate) on a farmer “is a landmark for our country’s agriculture,” says Dr. K.V. Peter (mob: 9446513017), former Vice Chancellor, Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur.
The University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad, Karnataka, conferred the doctorate on a farmer, Abdul Rauf Abdulkarim Shaikh, for his pioneering work in pineapple and pepper by adopting latest technologies.
“The award emphasises the importance of agriculture and its contribution to the society,” says Dr. Peter.
Mr. Shaikh, popularly called as, the “Pineapple king of Banavasi” cultivates pineapple, banana, papaya and pepper in his 300 acres.
“Pepper is generally a hill crop. For the first time, the farmer successfully grew the crop in the plains. The creepers started bearing within six years, against the usual 12 years.
“For pineapples he used drip irrigation to shorten the harvesting season from 18 to 14 months. Fertiliser for the crops is mainly applied through the drip irrigation tubes,” observed Dr. Peter.
“I am harvesting nearly 30 tonnes of pineapples from an acre in 14 months after installing drip irrigation. Previously I harvested about 19-20 tonnes,” says Mr.Shaikh.
Pineapple being a seasonal crop, how was he able to supply fruits all through the year?
“As the demand for the fruits falls during monsoon, I adopted a technique called hormonal treatment of plants to ensure availability of fruits all through the year.”
“He says with a sense of pride, “Farmers in Hawaii and Philippines practise this technique. I also encourage other farmers to follow this treatment.
“Thanks to the interest shown by other farmers in my region today, pineapple is a major commercial crop in Banavasi.”
Unlike the usual system of planting on ridges, the farmer planted the pineapple seedlings on the surface of the land. “A farmer’s work does not end with harvesting the crops. He should also try to market it.
“Personal marketing is the only way to end exploitation by middlemen and get a good price,” stresses Mr.Shaikh.
“I encouraged other pineapple farmers in my region to sell their fruits with mine. I took the lead and started transporting the fruits to Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Goa.
“Since our product was good we are getting regular orders and this has greatly helped us to secure a market for our produce,” the honoured farmer explains.
It is the duty of every farmer to ensure that his crop reaches the market with minimal damage if he wants a good price.
“Through personal experience, I learnt to transport the fruits by placing them upside down (crown facing downwards), as this gives a cushioning effect. By this practice we are able to minimise 10-15 per cent of damage while transport,” he says.
Inter-cultivation of various crops such as coconut, arecanut, cocoa, pepper, vanilla and coffee is also done in his farm. In addition G-9 banana varieties are also grown.
Karnataka ‘imports’ banana from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu even when the soil and atmosphere here are ideal for growing the fruit, according to him.
“I wanted to prove that the crop can grow well in this climate and personally started cultivating the variety. By personal experience I realised that banana yield is dependant on the crop spacing.
“I reduced the spacing between the plants and started growing 2,640 plants in an acre,” he emphasises. (Usually about 1,200 plants are planted in an acre with a spacing of 6x6 feet).
The farmer is now involved in setting up a pineapple caning unit in Banavasi with a capacity to crush 10 tonnes or 6,000 fruits in eight hours.
For more information readers can contact Mr. Abdul Rauf Abdulkarim Shaikh, Holemath road, Banavasi, Sirisi taluk, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka, mobile: 94480-098050, phone: 08384-264242, 264268.