ANANTAPUR/ VISAKHAPATNAM: Kadapa’s Aneel Kumar Ambavaram, holder of a Master’s Degree in Organic Agriculture from the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands was not happy with his profession even after working with renowned multinational companies like Dow Agro-Sciences and Dupont for 15 years, even though he had a high-profile career and a handsome pay package.
During his trips to his motherland, in the district of Kadapa Mr Aneel realised that his work made him successful and contributed to the farmers abroad progressing, but the farmers in his native land were languishing. He began introducing the produce of the drought-hit areas of Rayalasema and Vizianagaram districts of North Andhra to the international markets. This mission proved successful and improved the financial condition of the local farmers.
After witnessing the success of the organic farming in Warangal in Telangana, four young men led by Mr Aneel Kumar have begun a mission of uplifting the cotton farmers in the Vizianagaram district of North Andhra by convincing and encouraging the farmers to take up the growing of cotton by the organic method.
Around 46 farmers have started growing cotton in around 50 acres in the Vizianagaram region. A firm in the US has already committed itself to purchase the cotton lint produced by these farmers, while some European companies have expressed an interest too.
After much research, the team found out that a bioflavonoid called “Hesperidin” is present in the aborted sweet oranges from Kadapa district. This natural compound has a positive effect on the human circulatory system and hence has a pharmaceutical value.
Collection, processing, quality management and supply of aborted small oranges can fetch an additional income to these farmers. GVK has set up a farmers’ training system under the project ‘Hesperedin’. Benefici-aries can collect and sell both fresh and dried fruits as per their quality.
“By enrolling the sweet orange farmers into collecting the aborted sweet oranges, we have increased the annual income of the sweet orange farmers by 50 per cent and created an opportunity for the labour in the region to increase their income. We worked in 40 villages and collected 10 metric tonnes (after drying) in the first year. We have achieved more than 100 per cent growth in the second year (82 villages and 23 MT),” says Mr Aneel and added that GVK had signed an agreement with a renowned European pharmaceutical company recently to export sun-dried oranges from Simadripuram and Pulivendula in Kadapa district and also Garla-dinne in Anantapur district. Sharat Babu Gidda, a mechanical engineer and Vidya Sagar who has a Masters in Agriculture from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark have joined in the mission to promote farmers to switch to organic farming.
Aneel has launched a mission called Anvita Organic Cotton Programme in Vizianagaram with the support of T. Vijay Kumar, adviser to the Department of Agriculture, Andhra Pradesh and D. Pari Naidu, CEO of Jattu Trust.
“Anvita is our pilot programme in the North Andhra region and we are working with 46 farmers families of the Kothavalasa, Dorajammu and Buddemkarja areas under GL Puram mandal in Vizianagaram district. We have provided quality organic inputs including non-GMO seeds to the 46 farmers besides giving them technical support.
“The Jattu Trust is building farmers awareness in select villages and helping them to prepare natural pesticides and manures,” said Mr Aneel. In the long run, the mission aims to double the income of 3,000 tribal cotton farmer-families in Vizianagaram by collective farming (Subhash Palekar’s method), initiating Producer Organi-sations organic certification and processing and linking them to European market for better returns.
A conventional cotton T-shirt needs about 3,000 litres of water, but the organic T-shirt needs only 300 litres of water.
“We are a hybrid organisation whereby a Pvt Ltd company and an NGO collectively work for sustainability causes. We have an existing partnership with a renowned French pharmaceutical company that gives us assured marketing”, said the social entrepreneur, beaming with confidence.