FEATURE: THE PAPAYA MAN (INDIA TODAY)

Frederick Noronha (FN) Use-Author-Address-Header at [127.1]
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)

FORWARDED VIA:
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