Fruits are loved by almost all of us. They are high in nutrition, delicious to eat, and easy to digest. Fruits also build our immunity and help us lead a healthy life. Owing to their medicinal properties, fruits are recommended by doctors. Whatever their other quality might be, they are mostly tempting due to their taste and freshness.
Guava, too, has many of great properties. However, unlike other fruits, its shelf life is very low. If kept for more than a few days, it starts decaying and losing much of its quality. Even on refrigeration it loses its taste and freshness. When preserved for a few days, it produces a unique smell which makes it difficult to keep it with other food items in the refrigerator as they absorb its smell. Stale guava attracts flies making its vicinity a mess. This can spread diseases and thus, once it starts staling, it must be disposed off.
Neeraj Dhanda, a software engineer by profession, came up with a solution for this problem. He took up farming after quitting his corporate job and made the impossible turn possible. Owing to his innovative ideas, he is now selling guavas online at Rs 550 per kg and has become a millionaire by doing so. It is evident that his journey from a software engineer to a successful farmer was not an easy one. He gave up his cushy job to start an uncertain journey, and achieved success through his abilities.
Neeraj spent his childhood in the Sangatpura village of Jind district, Haryana. His father was a farmer. Although, farming was the traditional profession of his family, Neeraj decided to complete his education first. He pursued engineering in computer science. As he always wanted to do something extraordinary from his childhood, his friends mocked at him for aiming high, but they could not shake his determination. Their words always floated on the surface and never reached his heart.
Neeraj had a knack for making small inventions since he was young. For instance, once he made a flashlight by attaching batteries with a medicine vial when he was in STD 7. Since childhood, he always acted upon ideas that occurred to him and innovated.
In a special conversation with KenFolios, Neeraj displayed huge concern for the farmers, their exploitation by middlemen, poor returns on crops etc. To make changes in the scenario, he tried to explain this to his parents but they shrugged him off. They told Neeraj that their crops were sold only because of these middlemen’s effort.
So after completing his engineering, Neeraj started working in a software company as he thought he could never pursue farming with existing market condition. But, even when he had this comfortable job, a corner of his heart belonged to farming. So Neeraj gave up his job and in order to try his luck in farming with the savings he had made he invested in a cherry farm on a seven acre land in Sangatpura, seven km away from Jind.
His parents were not happy with his decision of quitting the job and advised him to continue with his job. However, Neeraj was sure about his decision and continued with farming. He had an eye for ways to make farming easier and pursuable so that more people could take it as a career. He had some groundbreaking ideas that he put in execution.
So he looked for various techniques and after sometime purchased guava seeds from the Purana Ganj nursery in Allahabad, and planted them in his fields. The quality of guava produced by him was excellent. When he arrived with this production of guavas in the market, he found out that the middlemen were the ones who decided the value of the end product. They offered Neeraj Rs seven per kg for guavas; almost fifty percent of what he wanted them to offer. Here Neeraj was brought to light for the reason why farmers were poor. The farmers were not getting reasonable price for their hard work and expenditure.
Neeraj decided to start six counters of his own to sell the produce directly to consumers, bypassing the middlemen. Initially, he had to overcome strong resistance from the middlemen, but eventually he succeeded. By his own counters, Neeraj was able to sell guavas at double price that was offered by middlemen. Bulk vendors also reached his fields directly to purchase guavas from him through these counters. However, Neeraj realized that for better business and benefits he had to increase the shelf life of guavas that he was producing. Guava had shelf life of one to three days, and hence had to be sold the sooner possible to get profit because the price dropped drastically once it became stale.
Thus, he travelled to Chhattisgarh and bought Jumbo Guava plants of Thailand from a nursery and planted it in his fields. This new modified seed was not very profitable in the first year, but Neeraj got the idea of how to grow the new variety and maximize production. He followed organic farming and soon the hard work paid off. The growth was amazing and he even grew one guava weighing around 1.5 kg. The guavas in Neeraj’s field had great taste as he used organic compost prepared by him.
Instead of selling these guavas to the middlemen Neeraj formed his own company by the name DoorNextFarm. He started taking online orders and home delivery of guava in the nearby area. One more useful aspect of the jumbo guavas was their long shelf life. These guavas remained fresh for about 10 to 15 days.
Keeping in mind that the demand of these guavas was raising Neeraj arranged tracking system on his website for customers to track their order till delivery. This way Neeraj was able to keep an eye on which day the guava was plucked from the garden and when it reached the customer. He kept the delivery target within 36 hours.
His success rate attracted farmers, who came to meet Neeraj to see his guava plantation from faraway places and learn his technique. Neeraj has prepared a price table to teach his formula to the interested farmers. He also solved the problem of middlemen for the farmers. Neeraj is now looking to utilize the agritourism model and further increase his earnings.
Not only this, he has plans to sell green tea and organically grown crops through his website. He will start the venture soon. Now, the elder members of his family call him the white elephant of the house. He is happy and takes pride in the fact that the younger generation of his family and vicinity wants to become a farmer instead of seeking jobs in the cities. They found that their future will be more secure if they become farmers. This is what Neeraj aimed for long, to inspire people.
The younger generation now has the proper education to bypass the middlemen and it will help them prosper as a farmer and help in the development of the society. This big change became possible because of the action at the right time by Neeraj. His attempt calls for a round of applause and appreciation that changes the lives of farmers.
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