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Amravati poultry farmer invited to lecture IAS trainees in Mussoorie; Know why

Ravindra Metkar’s mind was flooded with memories of his life’s hardships as he stood on the stage at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA).

Ravindra had a difficult upbringing growing up in a tiny village in Maharashtra’s Amravati area with his father working as a peon and three siblings. He began poultry farming at the age of 16, and now, at the age of 55, he finds himself in front of young Indian Administrative trainees at LBSNAA in Mussoorie.

Every year, LBSNAA hosts eminent civil employees to give guest lectures to new IAS trainees about the administration’s operations. Ravindra was invited to speak to 189 trainees on March 7, 2023.

‘I was the first Maharashtra farmer to be invited to LBSNAA. It was an honor for my family and me. ‘I had the opportunity to meet with future IAS officials who will serve as mukhiyas (district magistrates) across the country, and the inhabitants in those districts will become like family to them,’ he tells The Better India.

Ravindra was invited to talk to 189 trainees on March 7, 2023.

Farmers contribute significantly to the district’s productivity. So, when IAS officers are deployed in districts, they should be cognizant of their real-life issues and comprehend what farmers want from them. ‘I was given the opportunity to assist the trainees in understanding this,’ he continues.

Ravindra began with 100 chicken hens and now has 1.8 lakh hens on his 50-acre farm in Amravati. We met down with him to learn about his experiences as a poultry farmer and how he accomplished this achievement.

Ravindra worked at a chemist’s store, earning Rs 5 a day, to supplement his income. ‘We didn’t have any ancestors’ land. Our financial situation was dire. I recall walking to college because I didn’t have a bicycle. ‘I used to fix old ripped garments for college,’ he explains.

He began poultry farming alongside his employment at a chemist’s store after witnessing the success of his neighbor, who had a 400-hen chicken farm. Ravindra began poultry farming in 1984, when he was only 16 years old. His father provided him Rs 3,000 from his provident fund to help him get started.

Ravindra began with 100 chicken hens and now has 1.8 lakh hens on his 50-acre farm in Amravati.

He set up a chicken farm with 100 hens on a kachha (mud) slab in his residence after receiving a 15-day training from the government department. With no prior experience, he was forced to sell eggs and broilers at a low market price.

Ravindra was gradually able to build his little firm. Within ten years, he moved from having 100 to 400 chickens.

During this time, Ravindra completed his master’s degree in commerce in 1992 and married four years later. ‘Because we were poor and I was a farmer, several families rejected me for their daughters. ‘I was only able to marry after a lot of guarantees from others,’ he recalls.

In the meantime, Ravindra purchased an acre of land in Amravati. He enlarged the farm with 4,000 hens using a Rs 5 lakh bank credit. ‘By then, I was making a good living from the company and had my kachaa house restored. ‘I soon extended the farm to 12,000 hens,’ he recalls.

His joy, though, was fleeting. In 2006, India experienced a bird flu pandemic that severely impacted the poultry industry. ‘It was the country’s first case of avian flu. People were afraid to eat broilers and eggs. They even ordered poultry producers to slaughter their birds. ‘I sold 16,000 broilers for Rs 2-3 per kg, whereas they were previously sold for Rs 50-60 per kg,’ he claims.

Ravindra developed his farm with new technologies throughout time.

‘Fortunately, I had previously purchased 15 acres of farmland. So, for the next two years, I continued to earn money by cultivating fruits and vegetables such as oranges, soybeans, and tuardal (pigeon pea),’ he says.

In 2008, he obtained a bank loan of Rs 25 lakh and restarted the firm with 20,000 egg-laying hens. ‘With my revenues, I kept growing the number of birds on my farm. ‘Today, I have 1.8 lakh chickens,’ says Ravindra, who has been in the poultry business for four decades.

He claims that he now earns up to Rs 60,000 per day from this venture.

Ravindra’s farm has grown over the years thanks to better technologies such as indoor vertical farming, greenhouse farming, automatic watering, drip systems, remote sensing irrigation systems, and organic farming.

‘I have only employed 50 people to operate my 50-acre poultry farm. The majority of the job is automated. ‘For example, everything from collecting eggs from broilers to feeding chicken birds to collecting their excreta is done with machines,’ he explains.

Interestingly, he was chosen by the state government in 2013 as one of 80 progressive farmers to be flown to Europe for a 10-day trip to learn the ins and outs of expanding the farming company using machinery.

Ravindra was also awarded the coveted Jagjivan Ram Abhinav Kisan Puraskar by the ICAR in 2022.

The Maharashtra government awarded him the Vasantrao Naik Award the following year. Later that year, in 2021, he got the Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s (IARI) Innovative Farmer Award.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) also awarded Ravindra the prestigious Jagjivan Ram Abhinav Kisan Puraskar in 2022.

Ravindra attributes his ability to build an identity and extricate himself from corrupt police at the grassroots to these honors. ‘Many local officers used to come to me on a regular basis to acquire free chicks and eggs. If they are denied, they will cause neighbors to complain about the unpleasant odor coming from my chicken farm,’ he claims.

Aside from that, he continues, “Normally, the government announces compensation when farmers suffer crop losses.” A patwari (village registrar) is appointed to assess the damage. During the procedure, they demand a portion of the compensation. If someone refuses to pay the money, their names are removed from the list.’

Ravindra claims he was able to bring these issues to the attention of IAS trainees at LBSNAA. He also advised them to not rely on junior officers only, and to visit farmers’ sites on their own to understand the challenges at the grassroots independently.

‘Farmers will not be able to progress with farming alone. After sowing, it takes five months to generate income from the crop. During this period, they are left without any means to earn. So, officers should encourage farmers to adopt parallel businesses like poultry farming, mushroom farming, silk and cattle rearing, and vermicompost business to boost their income.’

Ravindra shares that it was crucial for him to put forward the farmers’ expectations to these future officers, and to be able to have received this opportunity felt like a great achievement. ‘At LBSNAA, reputed officers lecture the IAS trainees. And that day, a farmer was able to take the stage. I hope with my work, younger generations do not feel hesitant to seek a career in farming,’ he says.

Taushif Patel

Taushif Patel is a Author and Entrepreneur with 20 years of media industry experience. He is the co-founder of Target Media and publisher of INSPIRING LEADERS Magazine, Director of Times Applaud Pvt. Ltd.

Taushif Patelhttps://taushifpatel.com
Taushif Patel is a Author and Entrepreneur with 20 years of media industry experience. He is the co-founder of Target Media and publisher of INSPIRING LEADERS Magazine, Director of Times Applaud Pvt. Ltd.

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