1. Success Story

Genabhai Patel: Fighting Polio, Fetching Profits through Pomegranate

Sheetal Dhamecha
Sheetal Dhamecha

“There is no life without challenges and there is no fun without challenges. Where people stop, I start from there. I never felt that there is something I can’t do. What do you say in English? There is no word called impossible in my dictionary,” quotes Genabhai who was born with polio in both legs.  

Genabhai Patel was honored with the Padma Shri by the Government in 2017. Aged 53, he is a pomegranate farmer from Sarkari Goliya of Banaskatha District in Gujarat. Fondly known as Anar Dada, he has transformed severely affected drought-hit Banaskantha district into a flourishing pomegranate area and made it the major pomegranate producing region in the country.  

Born in a farming family he was involved in farm activities since the age of 17. However, he wasn’t willing to practice the same routine cycles of routine crops and wanted to grow something that required less intervention. Seeking an alternative, he visited Agriculture University and State government's Krishi Mahotsav (2003-04). To his delight, he gained knowledge about pomegranate cultivation and drip irrigation there. 

He gained the support of his brothers and nephews. After all, where there is will, there is a way! So he tried to make his fortune from pomegranates around 14 years back. He brought 18000 varieties of saplings from Maharashtra and planted them in his 5-acre land. Initially, the right price wasn’t offered due to the lack of market knowledge. Also, farmers of the district mocked at him in the early phase. However, with consistent and undeterred efforts, the yield and profits both grew. This encouraged more farmers and in a few years, the entire village along with a few neighboring villages started growing pomegranate. “Around 70,000 farmers have so far visited my farm to see how the fruit is grown,” he said. 

Today, pomegranate is grown all over the district, with traders from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Maharashtra coming during December-January every year to purchase the product, he said. He has himself planted around 5500 trees of Pomegranate. As organic fertilizers, he uses Panchamrut (cow urine + cow dung + Jaggery + pulses flour) and vermicompost on each tree every month. This produces red, shiny, big and good quality fruits. Bird nets are used to protect fruits from birds. He mentions that a harvest once a year is enough. This helps in maintaining quality and helps in fetching premium prices.  

He has been awarded several times by state and central government. Anar Dada suggests that farmers should think beyond traditional farming methods and explore new opportunities, breaking barriers. 

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