Puri: A visually-challenged man is well on his way to build a career as a farmer with the help of Reliance Foundation’s digital platform.
Prakash Pandi, 45, of Srikerenda Village, Anadharaichapur Gram Panchayat under Gop Block of Puri district has only one good eye since birth. After graduation in History Hons from Nimapara College, Puri, he started taking tuitions for a few upper primary students of his village. However, the money earned was not enough to meet the requirements of his family, so he quit teaching in 2018.
He decided to start paddy and vegetable farming on his parental land. But it was not easy. He faced several problems, right from varietal selection to adverse weather, weed management, nutrient management, pest and disease control. Contacting pesticide dealers and farmers did not help in taking care of his crop.
“Then in May 2019, I got the Reliance Foundation (RF) toll-free Helpline number 1800-419-8800 from of Krushi Mitra. I registered my name and crop detail to get weather-based crop advisory. Apart from that, I started frequently calling the RF Helpline number and interacting with agriculture experts about my crop issues,” said Prakash Pandi.
“Now, with RF advisory support, I am growing paddy on 5 acres of land during Kharif season. By using our village pond as a water source, I am growing potato, pumpkin, bitter gourd, cabbage, cauliflower, chilli and groundnut on 5 Guntha (0.20 acres) during the Rabi season,” he added.
Pandi is happy to be connected with an RF expert on the toll-free Helpline number. He gets an answer to all his questions. “They never get irritated even when I ask a question repeatedly. They advise me to always verify the medicine and the seed variety. Sometimes, I even consult the RF expert from the pesticide shop about the suitability of a particular medicine for my crop,” said the farmer.
“With RF expert support, I have controlled pest and disease attack on my Kharif paddy, controlled flower dropping on pumpkin and managed pod borer in green gram. I am expecting a good yield of bitter gourd and potato too,” he added.
Padi keeps sharing his experience with fellow farmers who seek agricultural information to address their crop issues.
“I hope the RF team visits my village to address livelihood issues related to farming, livestock rearing and inland fish-farming to help more people,” he said.