Sathish Hudgi, a 41-year old software engineer from Halakunda village in Kalaburagi district, who had worked with many companies in India, the U.S. and in Dubai for 14 years, has now been a proud farmer of his village for a couple of years now.
“The monotonous routine of work bored me. It provoked me to do something different and be creative to rejuvenate my life. A thought of taking up agriculture on 12 acres of my ancestral land prompted me to leave a lucrative job and take up agriculture as business,” Mr. Hudgi told The Hindu on Sunday.
When he landed in his village after giving up a job in Dubai that was fetching him 30,000 Dirham (about ₹ 6 lakh) a month, the community around him was unwelcoming.
Some laughed at him while others tried to discourage him. But, he continued with his plans. He got borewells drilled and had solar pumpsets, drip irrigation system and CCTV cameras installed at the farm, got the soil tested, consulted farm scientists at Kalaburagi’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra and so on and so forth.
“In 2018, I experimented with onions on one acre. The yield was wonderful, but the price had fallen. It was break-even with no loss and no gain. The yield, however, gave me confidence and I moved ahead to experiment with sweet corn and watermelon. Watermelon cultivation in an acre of land fetched me ₹ 1.60 lakh net profit in just two months. The sweet corn in two acres gave me ₹ 2 lakh net profit,” Mr. Hudgi said.
After two years of hard work, Mr. Hudgi is now more confident. Mr. Hudgi’s case is not an isolated one as hundreds of highly educated individuals are showing more interest in agriculture, particularly after the outbreak of COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown.
Shankar Rathod, for instance, who had worked as a chartered engineer since 2006, has now taken up anjeer, lemon, jackfruit, mango and coconut cultivation.
Srinivas Rathod, who worked as lecturer in engineering colleges at Bhopal, Jaipur and other cities, has returned to his native place after the outbreak of COVID-19. He is now seriously thinking of undertaking agriculture.
Mohammad Pasha, who worked as a manager at a Pune-based export company, is now planning to cultivate his 11 acres of land and also develop a business of exporting agricultural produces.
“After most of the sectors were hit by the pandemic, the educated class has realised that agriculture is one of the good and sustainable sectors to invest in and work on. Doctors, engineers, advocates, lecturers working on contract basis and other professionals, some of whom have returned from different countries, are visiting the KVK to inquire about the latest farming technologies, crop varieties, market availability and suitable crop pattern for Kalaburagi weather,” P. Vasudev Naik, horticulture scientist, told The Hindu.
Raju Teggali, an entomologist who heads the Kalaburagi KVK, said that most of the educated and foreign-returned were showing interest in advanced technologies such as polyhouse farming.