Ishwar Pindoria, born in a village 20 km off Bhuj, one and a half hours away from the Great Rann of Kutch. He owns a hi-tech farm spread across 40 acres.
The man has been growing exotic Barhi dates, local elite-colored varieties of dates, pomegranates, and the famous Kesar Mango using various Israeli farming technologies since 2006.
Despite challenging climate, the topography, infertile and sandy soil, and acute water shortage, the businessman turned farmer has turned farming on its head by having consumers not only in the domestic metros but also in European Union.
In 2003, he took the first step and ventured into farming. He wanted to incorporate the farming techniques from Israel – the mecca of agriculture. He traveled to Israel for ten days with his friend and came across several farms.
“I noticed that the landscape of Israel in some places was very similar to the area I wanted to farm. With sandy soil, the farmers managed to successfully grow date palm and earn huge profits. If Israel can do it with such challenging climatic conditions, why not us? Alongside a few farmers, I decided to bring home some good quality date palm plants from Israel for commercial plantation,” says Pindoria.
The Execution Line
Pindoria incorporated technologies like subsurface drip irrigation, irrigation scheduling as per the rate of evaporation measured with Class-A pan evaporimeter, Canopy management, bunch management, post-harvest management (grading, packaging), pest and disease management, soil moisture monitoring, and fertigation management.
He also imported instruments from California to measure soil moisture at various depths to schedule irrigation, save water, and prevent runoffs.
While canopy management helps create a conducive microclimate for crops, bunch management, and post-harvest activities like grading, and packing helped get the product out in the market within a limited time.
For pest-control, Pindoria adds that apart from using organic and kitchen waste, he also adds cut and pulverized date-palm leaves to the compost. Sprinkled with microorganisms in a compost pit, these are stored for close to 12 months before being administered to the soil.
He adds how adopting these technologies gained him a good yield gradually over a while, boosting his confidence. While until a year ago, exporters bought produce from him to sell abroad, the man set up his cold storage unit last year. He has been exporting his fruits to leading metros in India and across Europe.
A year and a half ago, the embassy of Israel in New Delhi got in touch with the farmer with the request to make a documentary on his success story.
While the local colored elite date variety is spread across ten acres, the Barhi variety, which originates from Iraq, covers another ten acres.
The mango orchard spread across 18 acres was replaced with pomegranates last year and will start harvesting after a year and a half. The Kesar mango variety found a huge market in India, especially in the East. Bigger in size, heavier in weight, naturally ripened, carbide and chemically-free, these mangoes are green on the outside and saffron-colored and juicy on the inside.
The yield of the local elite variety of date palms differs from one plant to another. The Barhi variety produces 200 kg per plant.
“Human intervention in farming is limited. Once you sow the seed, water it at the required intervals, mother nature takes care of it all. One grain of wheat when sown into the ground multiplies into 80 grains. I would recommend it to everyone,” he adds.