‘How Potato Growers Turn Floriculturists’
To the Barabanki farmers in Uttar Pradesh who traditionally grew potatoes, sowing flowers for livelihood was unheard of. They anxiously watched an adamant Moinuddin, a law graduate, sow several varieties of flowers and waited for the result. Today, floriculture is a blooming business in the entire region, with buyers of the yield spread across the country and abroad. Moniuddin narrates the journey: I was a law student and completed my LLB in 2001. My family expected me to be a hot-shot lawyer in Lucknow. But I had other plans. I wanted to go back to my roots in my village Dafedar Purwa in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh and become a farmer. My family considered me a fool. They tried to chase me away to Lucknow. But my ideas turned out to be revolutionary after all these years. I am regarded as a floricultural tycoon in the state. In 2003, I started with my first experiment. I planted gladiolus on my portion of a 3-acre land and that year my net profit was Rs 1.5 lakh. Surprised by my achievement, my family members and relatives gradually started trusting me. They let me handle all their lands and by 2009, I had 15 acres of land. In 2009, I became the first famer to introduce the Israeli technique of poly house in the state. I had surfed the Internet and had done enough homework. Through this technique I could grow exotic flowers throughout the year in a greenhouse irrespective of the weather outside. Besides farmers in other states were already using the polyhouse technique. It made good business sense. One hectare reap of gerbera and gladiolus earns a net profit of Rs 25 lakh per annum as compared to the same reap of the conventional crops wheat and potato that is barely Rs 75,000 per annum. So gradually, I started growing Gerbera along with Gladiolus, rose, marigold and other Indian and exotic varieties. Today, apart from growing flowers in my 25 acres of land I am connected with over 1,500 farmers (which include 25 big farmers) from across the country. Some of my clients are even based in gulf countries. Roses, marigold and other Indian flowers have found a good market in religious places. I send my produce to wholesale suppliers from Ayodhya and Deva Sharif. I impart training to local farmers and even government officers. In July last year, I conducted a one-day workshop for about 100 bank officers from across India. Earlier in February last year, over 100 PPS and PCS officers attended a one-day workshop on sustainable and profitable farming techniques in harsh agricultural regions I have been rewarded in many ways. The Indian Railways have made a special stop at the Fatehpur railway station of Barabanki (about 9 kilometers from my farms) for picking up my farm produce and supplying them at various destinations. In 2012, the then president of India APJ Abul Kalam visited my farms and presented me a certificate of appreciation. And in 2013, Narendra Modi, who was then the chief minister of Gujarat presented me with the best farmers’ award (floriculture). My real reward, however, is the job satisfaction I get. I turned my passion into my profession and it worked wonders for me!