A simple but very successful story of organic farming

Prakash Organics from Honnihal village, Belagavi district, has created a niche market for itself

Prakash Organics from Honnihal village, Belagavi district, has created a niche market for itself

Anuradha Kulkarni insists that visitors have tea before visiting her family farm in the village of Honnihal. Once they’ve had a sip of tea, they understand why. It’s made from organic jaggery produced in their backyard gana, the jaggery plant, and of course the thick milk comes from the buffaloes in the barn.

The Kulkarni couple’s modest home in the middle of the farm does not reflect the success they have had as organic farmers. Over the years, Prakash Organics has built its own brand and a niche market in organic food products. It sells more than 10 tons of organic jaggery a year, besides cold-pressed turmeric powder and paste, local fragrant rice called Belgaum Basmati, unpolished Sona Masuri rice and soybeans, and some fruits and vegetables.

“The formula behind our success is simple. Adopt organic farming, produce quality products and create your own brand that consumers will trust. That’s it,” says Prakash Kulkarni, the farmer behind the brand.

However, this was not built in a day. Prakash Kulkarni had to drop out of school and become a full-time farmer while still in high school. For more than 20 years, he practiced organic farming. “Then one day, my friends organized a workshop with Subhash Palekar, a promoter of natural agriculture in the village of Yamakanamaradi. I attended the one-day event and was hooked,’ he said.

Despite discouraging comments from supporters and friends, he decided to go organic. It took him three years to adopt organic methods on his 20-acre farm. Another organic farmer in the district has come together to form an organic farmers club. For several years, the club has been organizing workshops and setting up a common market. But he ran out of steam during confinement.

“Organic farming may have become a recent fad. But we were early adopters. My farming is the no-frills approach to organic farming. Most of my inputs are made on the farm,” says Prakash Kulkarni. The only things he gets from outside are 30 tractor loads of compost, seeds or saplings developed by universities or inventors and of course, the Gokrupamruta bacterial culture developed by Gopalbhai Sutariya of Bansi Gir Goshala.

“The Gokrupamruta crop is mixed with buttermilk and jaggery and diluted with water. This is used in the fertigation of soils for four years, before the crop is purchased again,” the farmer explains. him, it is easier to prepare compared to the Jeevamruta advocated by Mr. Palekar.

“The first years were difficult,” says Anuradha Kulkarni. “We went door-to-door to explain the advantages of our products compared to those bought on the market. We had to make small sachets to give away free samples and explain their use in daily cooking. But now our brand is established. People come to our door asking for the products,” she said.

Jaggery is made into blocks, pellets and powder. But powder sales are the highest. “Housewives prefer it because it can be measured and used like sugar,” she explains.

“All our products come from organic farming. We do not use inorganic fertilizers, insecticides or weedkillers. We got national and international certificates 15 years ago. We have regular inspections by officers. What’s more, everyone is welcome to visit our farm and find out for themselves,” he said.

Prakash Kulkarni has converted part of his house into a warehouse to store jaggery, turmeric powder and rice. For more than a decade he crushed sugar cane and produced jaggery on a friend’s farm. But in recent years he has built a traditional aleman or boiler on the farm to make his own blocks of jaggery. “We realized that a farmer can only be successful when he produces an end product and sells it directly to consumers. We can no longer depend on intermediaries,” said Prakash Kulkarni.

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