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Ajay Jadhav Grows 180 Different Crops on 10 Acres; Attracts Customers from UAE and US

With a WhatsApp community, Ajay Jadhav draws customers from UAE and US for his farm products; and makes a lakh in revenues from the platform.

Shivam Dwivedi
Ajay Jadhav, Kheda village, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Ajay Jadhav, Kheda village, Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Back in the early 90s when nobody got into it for the money, when the sector was replete with regulations and restrictions, when farmers in the region would struggle to make ends meet by growing the few commercial crops and depending heavily on chemical fertilizers and pesticides to get a decent yield, Ajay Jadhav and his brother were already a step ahead. He sells special jaggery from his farms at a premium of Rs.200 per kg and quality draws demand. Long before organic farming became the buzzword, they were already practicing it on their 10-acre land.

“It is a lucrative business,” says Ajay Jadhav, “I’m here to break the myth that agriculture cannot be profitable like any other business, and so far I have been successful in proving this. We were progressive farmers. We used drip to use water efficiently. We were exporting our produce overseas and making around Rs.5-10 lakhs each year. But then Government regulations stopped everything,” Jadhav shares.

In 2005, the world as he knew it fell apart for Ajay Jadhav, when his elder brother and business partner passed away. Along with the organic farms, the two brothers from Kheda village in Maharashtra also ran a dairy farm successfully, making 200% profits. “Every day was a Diwali in my business. While a lot of people migrate from villages in search of better job opportunities, we are doing very well. After he passed away in 2005, I left the business,” shares Ajay Jadhav.

Jadhav has an uncanny sense of business but personal loss and government regulations put him on the back foot until 2010. With organic farming, his input costs kept rising too. But here was a breakthrough Jadhav was waiting for.

Transforming Agricultural Fortunes Through Natural Farming

In 2010, Ajay Jadhav underwent training in natural farming with The Art of Living.

What is natural farming? The natural farming technique uses ancient wisdom that explores and utilizes pre-existing symbiotic relationships in nature for agriculture. As The Art of Living leads the natural farming project it borrows from the wisdom of the Vedas and our ancient Rishis, methods coming from a deep understanding of how nature enables life through mutually beneficial relationships.

An example of this symbiotic relationship is to grow pulses and cereals together as the microbes in the roots of pulses provide atmospheric nitrogen in the soil, a nutrient needed for cereal crops to thrive. Bio concoctions like the Jeevamrut made from the indigenous cow’s dung and urine contain essential good bacteria that support the assimilation of nutrients present in the soil for the crops to consume and in return, the microbes live longer.

Generally, farmers are initially hesitant to change their style of farming given the myth that natural farming may not give sufficient yield and it takes a long time to show results, which can lead to losses. But for Jadhav, this decision to move to natural farming was a no-brainer.

Jadhav learned how to make natural inputs at home from the training he received from The Art of Living. “Even earlier I was doing organic farming but here after applying natural farming techniques, my input cost came down significantly.” Now he would spend just Rs.5000 on his inputs.

Impact of Natural Farming Training by The Art of Living

Jadhav's success from natural farming along with his business acumen is something that can inspire many farmers who are on the fence concerning whether or not they should give natural farming techniques a chance.

'My income straight doubled with natural farming. I have 10 acres of land and I grow 180 different crops. Jaggery has become the premium product coming out of my field. It tastes good and it gets better as it gets older. People buy it for even 200 rs/ kg where the market rate is 40rs/kg. My jaggery doesn’t turn black even after a year.”

His biggest learning is, “Every farmer should know what the rate of their product should be so they will never think of quitting farming.'

With the help of natural farming and multi-cropping technique Jadhav has created a model farm with over 180 crops. Then he realized that it was not enough that he had this knowledge but there was an immediate need to share it with other farmers too.

Jadhav has turned his farm into a model farm where anyone can visit from 9 am to 5 pm and learn about the techniques he has been implementing. He is also an Art of Living natural farming trainer now. Over 5 lakh farmers have so far visited his model farm where he also trains them in packaging, process, and branding of the produce. Such visits have helped him build credibility and now hundreds of families buy healthy, nutritious and naturally grown vegetables worth lakhs from him.

Rice Diversity: Jadhav's Farm with 200 Vegetables, 200 Byproducts, and 300 Desi Seeds

Jadhav has, on his farm, 200 types of vegetables, 200 types of byproducts, and 300 different types of desi seeds. 'I grow different types of bananas too now - red banana, ilaychi banana, among others and I sell them at double the market rate. I also use water efficiently.” 

Tech-savvy Jadhav has also explored social media channels for growing his business with his Whatsapp community exceeding 1000 members. “My produce is supplied in 21 states of India. My customers buy from me and also export it to the Americas. I have regular customers from Dubai too. Only through WhatsApp, I make over Rs.1 lakh a month. I have customers who buy vegetables worth Rs.3,000 every week.”

“There are times when I don't have enough produce to supply,” Jadhav shares his happy problem.  

Like Jadhav, So far The Art of Living has trained 22 lakh farmers in India and over a lakh in Maharashtra only from 2014 who now are armed with this ancient wisdom of reviving and reclaiming their agricultural lands from the clutches of MNC-sold fertilizers, genetically modified seeds, and pesticides. The training has helped farmers reduce their costs by 1/5th in comparison to chemical farming while preserving and multiplying rare and precious desi seed varieties through the seed bank. Marginal farmers who typically spend up to Rs.10,000 per acre on seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, are now able to manage their input costs within Rs.1,000 per acre, thanks to the natural farming training and with the help of the great Indian cow. They require less than one-fifth of the water they previously needed for cultivation.

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