This is the story of 22-year-old Chaitanya Malik who is an engineering graduate from Goa Engineering College, Farmagudi. Hailing from Pernem village in North Goa, this young lad always had an inclination towards the agricultural activities right from the inception. According to him his father is an associate professor at PES College in Farmagudi and who also actively involved in the agricultural activities and that led to growing his interest in the farming and after completion of graduation in computer engineering, instead of perusing the job technical field he decided to take up the farming as his career option.
It is unusual to find the young generation taking up the career in agriculture field in present days. Most of them prefer to go into the hi-tech industry and work abroad on the fat salaries and hence the case of Chaitanya is unique over here. He is representing the section of a new generation which is ready to take up the agriculture as their career option and he is also trying to show them that career in agriculture is not the low profile job at all. He has proved it through his hard work and achievements. Chaitanya being highly educated could have persuaded his career in any multinational companies in India or abroad but deiced to stay in his village and work for the betterment of Goan Agriculture which needs the attention today.
“I am from Pernem and have done my primary and secondary and higher secondary education at Mustifund High School in Panaji where I was always a topper in my class and that prompted me to join the College of Engineering at Farmagudi. After completing my graduation in computer engineering in first class I was a little confused at what to do, Engineering was my qualification and agriculture was my passion and finally passion won over the qualification and I made up my mind to continue into the agricultural field,” he narrated.
We witness many cases nowadays where someone from the completely diverse filed peruse his or her career into the completely different thing which is his or her passion. Take an example of Chetan Bhagat, the famous writer, and storyteller, he completed his educational qualification in engineering field but he never pursued his career into that field, instead, he chose to become a writer which he always dreamt of. Sometimes parents also force the career options on their children without realizing the real potential of them. It is very important to check out the aptitude of the child before pushing them into any field of your choice. We are not trying to tell that it is the story of Chaitanya, but we just want to put a little light on the facts giving the example set by the young Goan Chaitanya Malik.
According to Chaitanya, People think that those who have done engineering cannot go to become the farmers, but that is not correct, “I had an interest in becoming an engineer only for going through the process of changing my personality which was very much introvert in the beginning and the engineering taught me how to deal with the pressure, how to handle the complex situation and how to meet the logical ends,” he explained. According to him, the engineering grills the person to the extent that he becomes more practical towards the life and all the engineers are like that.
“My family has 100 acres of land in Pernem Taluka village Hassapur in Chandel Panchayat right at the foot of the Mopa airport. With God’s grace our village is blessed with the ample of water supply due to the existence Tilari Dam, the canal passes through the center of the village and that’s why we do not have water problem throughout the year. The farm which I am developing at the moment for that we have embarked with just 4 acres of land. I am not looking towards the agriculture from just the commercial point of view and selling the yields but for me agriculture means building the good ecosystem. For the people, the term agriculture is just farming but it have much wider perspectives which includes Piggery, poultry, vermicomposting, recycling and much more,” he narrated.
He is interested in working for the cause and that means he just don’t want to grow the vegetables in the field, but he also wants to help and promote this concept of agriculture in the young generation. He is also concerned about the rates that farmers get for their yield after putting the huge amount of hard work and time. “The issue of concern is, farmers do not get good rates for their yields due to the big chain of Merchant, Traders and Retailers eat up all the margins. I am not talking in general, but it is my own experience when I went to sell my production to traders they ask for the cost of Rs. 50 per kg while the same thing they sell to the consumer for Rs. 250 per kg which was the huge difference of margin,” he explained. Realizing that traders take advantage of the farmers, he decided to set up his own marketing unit for selling the production directly to the consumers. “I started using the social media and broadcasting of SMS to reach the potential consumers and received a very good response in the beginning. I also made the arrangements of the home deliveries to the consumers,” he said. Chaitanya believes that when the farmers take trouble of working hard in the field then why not put little extra efforts of delivering the goods to the consumers, that will increase their profit margins.
Chaitanya helps other farmers to get into the marketing by selling their good directly to the consumers and he also has his own outlet in Mapusa right next to the State Bank of India in the center of the city. “Our shop is open for all the farmers who want to sell their goods at the best price and we tell our consumers that do not expect the cheap rates since we help to survive the farmers and according to me if farmer dies the whole world will die. I have turned my shop into the farmer’s market and our consumer is aware that we sell the goods at the best prices. In our shop we don’t have scope for the bargain, it may sound little harsh but the farmer who works in the field 24/7 Planting, plowing, harvesting and taking it to market sitting in hot sun defiantly deserves better. It is very sad to see that farmers do not have dignity in our country compared to the educated section of the society and the professional has. In order to give the respect to the farmers we need to pay them what they really deserve,” he said.
According to Chaitanya, he is the only farmer who produces the broccoli in Goa as Broccoli is not grown in Goa at large scale and whatever stock of Broccoli comes in Goa it comes from the neighboring states of Pune, Kolhapur, Satara, Belgaum and Bangalore where Broccoli is grown at a larger scale. “Few officials belonging to the agricultural sector in Goa told me that I am the first and only one who grows Broccoli in the state. I may be wrong, but this is based on the information which I received from others. Broccoli has a good market in Goa but in select segment those who know the properties of this product,” he explained. According to him, he sells around 50 to 60kgs of Broccoli per day at the moment. He also pointed out that there is no proper guidance available in the area of growing new products in the field, as most the people who claim to be the trainer do not take trouble to enter in the field they just stand away from the area of production and guide us how to go about and according to him that does not work and this type of mentality needs to change.
Chaitanya says that the only handwork can survive in this field, the work here needs lots of will power and discipline, “I wake up at 5 in the morning and in half an hour I reach into my fields and by 7.30 I get my daily production to the shop at Mapusa. The guidance of my father helps me a lot in this. My both the parents belong to an educational industry and they are very proud of me that I have taken up this rare profession which today’s generation do not want to explore,” he said. It is not that Chaitanya never had any resistance from his family when he decided to come into the farming business. He says that his grandmother was completely against this and according to her he was crazy to take up the farming after completing his computer engineering. “She used to say that I will easily get 30 to 40 thousand rupees salary if I work somewhere but I was never interested in making money that way, I always wanted to pursue my passion and wanted to work in the environment that gives me a peace of mind and while doing that I wanted to earn money and today I am doing the same thing. I am earning enough money to take care of myself and be independent while selling, my agriculture stuff and I am the supplier and distributor of all sorts of Kokum drinks,” he added
Chaitanya says that he wants to make the farmers aware of the modern technology and how to use the same to increase the production. Since the farmers have the main asset which is their land, the proper training and use of new technology will take their dream to next level. “Presently I am working on the new project of organic agriculture and I feel that within next five years there will be the boom in the field of organic farming as the people are becoming more heath conscious with the time. People have a lot of money and they are ready to spend for their better health. According to me, it is high time that now people should realize that it is better to spend fifty rupees more today for healthy organic products, than spending 50 thousand tomorrow to cure the disease. There are many industries that produce the organic products and I use myself. Organic products do not kill the virus (insects) but they prevent it from happening, making the product more healthy and chemical free,” with these words he concluded.
Whatever Chaitanya is trying to tell has a substance in it. We always bargain with the vegetable vendors for the fewer prices we sometimes don’t mind to pick up the stuff which is cheaper, but this really does not help us. Farmers also face losses. This makes them sell their land to the builders and live peacefully with the money they have earned but remember that it is our loss as the production goes down the costs goes up, we may save rupees 50 today but will pay at the end of the day which will be much more. It is time to realize and wake up. Try to help farmers and give them their fair price. Live and let live.