FEATURE: THE PAPAYA MAN (INDIA TODAY)
Frederick Noronha (FN)
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Sun Apr 24 11:13:26 EST 2005
THE PAPAYA MAN: The fruit made him famous, but his entrepreneuiral spirit has
recreated agriculture in Uttaranchal (INDIA TODAY, Nov 8, 2004)
By Mahesh Chandra Donia
FOR THREE landless sharecroppers of Dhamora village in Rampur district of Uttar
Pradesh, life was a hard grind. But after meeting Sudhir Chadha, it looks
promising. They are set to earn Rs 1 lakh from their 2.6 acre rented papaya
farm. Chadha's initiative has brought them new opportunities.
Chadha's tryst with papayas began in 1979, when he first grew 40 payaya plants
on his father's 45-acre farm in Kaladhungi near the Jim Corbett tiget reserve.
This sparked an interest in plant breeding -- a course trod by few as it
demands the expertise of a scientist and the skill of a seasoned farmer. But
Chadha was successful and in 1986, he developed a dwarf papaya variety.
Christened Farm Selection-1, the variety's popularity soon spread. Fame
followed closely behind, earning Chadha the sobriquet 'Papaya Man" and the 1991
Innovative Farmers Award from ICAR.
"He tests an idea with scientific precision and, after its viability is proven,
goes about propagating it with a missionary zeal," says Professor Harihar Ram
of G B Pant University of Agriculture, who taught him plant breeding.
Today 48-year-old Chadha is one of India's most successful papaya growers,
selling 700 tonnes of the fruit and 300 kg of seeds yearly.
Papaya, however, is not his only calling card. First to introduce concepts like
inter-cropping and green-house technology on Uttaranchal, Chadha has also
gained expertise in other areas. He cultivates ornamental flowers, off-season
vegetables, Taiwanese sweet corn, and herbs like safed musali. Respected by
agricultural scientists, he plays a perfect mentor to farmers by providing them
input, training and R&D support.
"Agriculture has to be run like a manufacturing unit to achieve economies of
scale and profitability," says Chadha. In 1993 he set up Plantiss Agro in
partnership with the state government. It was Uttaranchal's first stride into
modern agriculture. No wonder Chief Secretary R S Tolia considers him an
architect of modern agriculture in the region.
Chadha is now motivating households in the predominantly Dalit village of
Dhapla to cultivate custard apples. "It is through building entrepreneurship
among farmers like them that Uttaranchal can tap the immense potential
agriculture holds," envisions Chadha.
He is truly sowing the seeds of self-reliance as he uses his gift to bring the
possibility to success to others. (ENDS)
_/ ____\____ Frederick Noronha * Freelance Journalist * Goa
\ __\/ \ India T +91.832.2409490 M +919822 122436
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