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UAS Conferred Honorary Doctorate to a 79-yr-Old Farmer for His Efforts to Organic Farming, Irrigation

79-year-old farmer was instrumental in obtaining a national subsidy for drip irrigation. He is also credited with being one of the first to cultivate and popularize mango varieties such as 'Mallika,' as well as grape varieties such as 'Bangalore Blue,' 'Red Globe,' and Jamun variety, 'Patel jumbo.'

Shivam Dwivedi
UAS Conferred an Honorary Doctorate to a 79-yr-Old Farmer
UAS Conferred an Honorary Doctorate to a 79-yr-Old Farmer

The University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bengaluru, conferred an honorary doctorate on a farmer at its 56th annual convocation here on Friday for the first time in two decades. N C Patel, one of Karnataka's agricultural pioneers who has been farming in Bengaluru's Nagadasanahalli since the 1960s, was honoured for his initiatives in cultivation, organic farming, and irrigation.

In the 1990s, the 79-year-old farmer was instrumental in obtaining a national subsidy for drip irrigation. He is also credited with being one of the first to cultivate and popularise mango varieties such as 'Mallika,' as well as grape varieties such as 'Bangalore Blue,' 'Red Globe,' and Jamun variety, 'Patel jumbo.' Patel decided to pursue agriculture after finishing his postgraduate degree in history in the 1960s. He began planting various fruits on his 75-acre property, focusing on cultivating new and rare varieties.

Patel became well-known for his cultivation of rain-fed crops such as mango, Jamun, and jackfruit over the years. Former additional director of horticulture S V Hittalmani stated, "He popularised many previously unknown varieties." He's even created new varieties like the Patel Pasand mango and the Patel Jumbo Jamun." "Patel was among the first in the state to cultivate the mango hybrid variety Mallika, which has since gained commercial popularity." He planted it on over 40 acres of land when it was first developed in the 1980s," he added.

This variety's first yield contributed to a nationwide drip irrigation subsidy. "Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal was visiting the state when my first crop of Mallika arrived in the early 1990s." "A friend had asked me to bring him and the other members of parliament who had come to see him some mangoes," Patel recalled. Devi Lal paid a visit to Patel's farm after being impressed by the taste of the mangoes. "Devi Lal noticed the varieties I was growing, the borewell I had dug in vain, and the drip irrigation system that was keeping my crops alive."

"I didn't even have to ask or convince him. He declared then and there that he would ensure that drip irrigation is subsidized throughout India," Patel added. Patel shared his knowledge with hundreds of other farmers through family and neighbours.  According to Vice Chancellor Rajendra Prasad, "Patel was brought to the institution's attention due to the excellence of his fruit crops, the novelty of his cultivation practices, and the impact on other farmers. We live in an era where anyone can be an innovator."

We wanted to recognize such role models in agriculture in order to inspire future generations.  "We hope to recognize many more such farmers who are doing excellent work in both water conservation and biodiversity," Prasad added. "For Patel, the award represents an opportunity to learn and educate others. Regardless of this honour, I am a natural farmer. I began farming with my father when I was in middle school. Now, I gather a group of scientists and government officials and take them to various farms to learn more," he explained.

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