The scorching sun has finally set in Modegaon, a tiny village in Sadashiva Nagar of Kamareddy district, and a young man wearing a blue t-shirt walks amidst rows of cucumber plants, checking each one to see if they’re getting enough water.
Pratap Reddy, 27, a young farmer and BTech graduate, started with an investment of Rs 5,000, which he’s now turned into approximately Rs 1.6 lakh, he told TNM.
After graduating in 2014, he took up a job as an executive in a private company. But he ultimately left that job and returned to his home in Modegaon to turn to farming. Prathap's father is also a farmer and owns more than five acres of farmland, so he began working on the farm and even sold vegetables in the local market.
"Many looked at me differently when I was selling vegetables in markets and asked why I took that up despite studying engineering. I smiled back and moved on,” he told TNM.
As he continued his new farming career, Prathap realised that the methods followed by his father for cultivating vegetable crops were rigid and old fashioned. They were also not producing a high yield despite significant investments, nearing Rs 1 lakh.
He ultimately educated himself on Indian agriculturalist Subhash Palekar’s method of organic and zero budget farming. He attended a training camp on organic farming and learned to prepare organic growth boosters using locally-sourced natural ingredients.
"After sowing seeds, I have prepared ‘jeevamrutha’ (a natural fertiliser made of cow dung) and applied it all over, instead of any chemicals. I made sure to irrigate the land through drip water.”
“As there is water scarcity, I thought there should be minimum investment and maximum yield,” he added.
Prathap began cultivating cucumber on an acre of land. He understood that though the demand for cucumber in the local area was high, the amount of cultivation in the region was low.
"No farmer cultivates it in our area. They usually keep it as supplementary crop in between tomatoes or other vegetables,” he said. “I thought of making it a commercial crop. As expected, the yield was good. Everyone asked me where I got those cucumbers from, thinking that I bought them from somewhere else."
Prathap, who is planning to cultivate watermelon, brinjal and chilly in the next cycle, thinks that "adding modern methods to conventional practices" results in a good yield.