Contribution in the Field of Agriculture
(A Life Devoted to Indian Agriculture)
Mr Bhavarlal Jain was born and brought up in a small hamlet at the foothills of Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra. His mother was an illiterate housewife while his father had completed primary schooling. Despite their lack of education, his family encouraged him to pursue and complete his B.Com., LL.B. He also cleared the State Civil Service Exams and qualified as a gazetted officer. However, his mother dissuaded him from joining Government service and inspired him to do something on his own.
He began his career in the early 60s by selling crude oil used for engine-sets in farm irrigation. The seed capital was a meagre Rs. 7000. Success in this line prompted him to undertake sale of other farm inputs and implements: fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, tractors, pump-sets and farm implements. Owing to close interaction with the farming community, he was quick to grasp their problems. He, however, felt that peripheral perception of the farming ethos, of farmers dilemmas and his travails and agonies was not enough to gain the required insight into agriculture. Hence, in order to gain first hand experience, he returned, in 1972, to his native place to till the farm, to dig the wells, to furrow irrigate the farm and to rear the cattle all by himself.
Thus began the story of a life that remained committed to farm, farming and farmer.
In 1978, he purchased a sick Banana Powder Factory and modified it for processing papaya latex into Papain. He introduced contract farming when it was not much in vogue and motivated over 2,500 small farmers to cultivate papaya, guaranteeing them minimum support price for their papaya latex. He became the first exporter of highly refined papain to advanced nations earning valuable foreign exchange. The trait continues. Today, the company founded by him has extended the benefits of contract farming directly to a vast number of onion, banana and mango growers across many states. It now buys back their produce at the ruling market price or the guaranteed price, whichever is higher - a bold departure for the larger interest. Exports of their world-class processed fruits and vegetables have reached the five continents.
Mr Jain was acutely aware that water would remain a limiting factor for development. He propagated since 1980, use of the cost-effective, innovative, long-life and easy-to-handle PVC piping to replace conventional short length wasteful cement pipes - an idea which did herald a revolution in farm irrigation, benefitting millions of farmers. His success in PVC pipes prompted over 150 small scale manufacturers to set up such units across the country.
PVC piping avoided only conveyance losses from the well to the field boundary. The distribution/irrigation losses continued. The pathfinder Mr. Jain studied micro-irrigation technology, MIT, which promised not only to conserve water at every stage but also to enhance farm productivity. However, it meant treading the path where many had failed. To win a tradition-bound farmer from age-old practice of furrow irrigation and get him to pledge his land for acquisition of hitherto unknown technology was both a herculean task and a challenge to his creative faculties. He decided to march ahead with an integrated approach.
He would not only sell complete range of quality hardware but also provide pre- and post-sale package of required services: farm survey, soil and water analysis, preparation of system design, irrigation and fertigation scheduling, agronomic and engineering maintenance support, provision of trained operators, etc. From concept to commissioning, a tailor-made system was installed and tested on turnkey basis - a completely scientific approach adapted to ground realities.
During the process of promotion, propagation and perfection of MIT, and in pursuit of its integrated delivery, Mr Jain pioneered a micro irrigation industry where none existed before and also created two inspiring institutions of enduring value to the agricultural community: A 1000 acre R&D and Demo Farm, and a Hi-Tech Agri Training Centre. The R&D and Demo Farm harbours a developed working watershed model which has transformed barren rain fed hilly wasteland into over 1,00,000 horticultural and agro-forestry tree-cover with spectacular growth of flora and fauna.
The Training Centre educates and refreshes farmers, MI system operators, dealers, distributors, agricultural research scientists, students, academicians and government extension staff as well as policy makers including administrators and politicians. It has become a pilgrimage place for the farming community from almost every state of the country. Every year over 20,000 visitors get inspired visiting these facilities which serve the cause of Hi-Tech Agriculture and stand as lasting symbols of Mr Jainís vision, creativity and indomitable devotion. They also serve as rallying points for awareness creating events including farmer melas, award ceremonies, crop symposia, and workshops.
The trend-setting work has reached the nook and corner of the country covering over 1.2 million acres, benefitting about half a million small farm holders, irrigating 45 crops and putting to use water-logged, saline soils and sloping, denuded forest and undulating lands. Mr Jain thus not only revolutionised the irrigation method but also enhanced the agricultural yields on a sustainable basis by improving land and water usage and efficiency. This achievement has been duly recognised even by Irrigation Association, IA, USA.
He greatly contributed in improving the standard of living of small farmers by enabling/empowering them to be self-reliant through supply of high yielding planting materials, providing agronomic support, assisting in adopting hi-tech agri practices, buying back their produce at prices profitable to them, and sharing experiences of research and development in agriculture.
The crusader scaled new territories like application of Bio-Technology for micro propagation (tissue-culture) and introduction of new varieties of Banana and Onion, preparation of vermicompost, bio-fertilisers, organic manure, bio-pesticides in the service of Organic Farming. He offered total solution from Wasteland Reclamation to Watershed Development and sustainable hi-tech precision farming - an honest striving to enhance GNP by helping advance second green revolution. Symbiosis between development and environment was an ever abiding passion for him. One can see him, feel him and know him only through his work.
His life purpose: Earn a pride of place for Indian Farm, Farming and Farmer.