PASSION TURNS ORGANIC FARMING INTO SUCCESS STORY

Shashank Kelkar
Thursday, 13 December 2018

Brothers Satyajit and Ajinkya Hange quit their highly paid jobs to pursue organic farming

Pune: ‘The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams’, says US talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey.

Most of us continue working in the profession/job just to earn a comfortable retirement. Only a handful have passion in the heart and fire in the belly to chase their dreams by quitting their successful job. Hange brothers, Satyajit and Ajinkya, eulogise those with passion in the heart and fire in the belly.
 
Born in an agrarian family at Bhodani village, Indapur, located around 150 km from Pune, the duo was sent to Pune for pursuing quality education from kindergarten till postgraduation in management. Despite cushy jobs in MNC banks, the connection with their roots and farming remained strong.

Fascinated by ‘organic farming’ as the panacea for issues such as reducing yield, increasing water requirement and soil damage due to fertilisers, they grasped the nuances of this sector in a few years while balancing their jobs. 

The duo hung up their shoes in 2011 with no ‘Plan B’.

Ajinkya said, “We were very clear from the beginning that this is ‘The Plan’. There is no going back.” 
This decision did not go down well with their father, who reluctantly offered two acres of land for their venture.

Fall to rise
The first four years for their startup ‘Two Brothers Organic Farms’ were full of agony, failures, losses and dealing with middlemen. Since 2015, direct marketing with street hawkers and later contracts with Star Bazaar, Dorabjee and Reliance propelled their annual turnover from a humble Rs 2 lakh to over Rs 3 crore, in the last three years. At present, a staff of 30 has been employed at the farm, while packing and marketing are looked after by Satyajit and Ajinkya supported by their wives.

The duo explained the four essential practises to control microclimate: Cow dung and urine as manure to enrich the soil, inter-cropping for full growth, natural pest control and enhance nutrient value, mulch with dried leaves and twigs for maximum water retention, increase in soil fertility and moisture content; perimeter plantation of tall trees (windbreaker) to reduce the ambient temperature by 4-5 degrees.
 
These simple practices reduced the water dependency of fruits and crops by almost 70 per cent while burying drip irrigation pipes 4 inch below the ground reduced the water requirement of sugarcane by over 50 per cent. 

‘Two Brothers Organic Farms’ is strictly growing organic produce like papayas, pomegranates, bananas, sugarcane, drumsticks and variety of dals. In addition, processed products like desi cow ghee, peanut butter, jaggery, moringa powder, wood-pressed oils were introduced based on the feedback of 
the customers. 

The processed products are being exported to Australia, Dubai, USA, Canada, and Switzerland. 
Ajinkya said, “Our products are even used by Nita Ambani and a number of Bollywood stars.” 

Over 2,000 farmers from Maharashtra and hundreds from Gujarat, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh have already benefitted by studying these methods. Even enthusiastic foreigners are staying at the farm to study the best practices.
  
Hange brothers said, “We believe in cooperating and not competing. Nature conservation, customer satisfaction and pursuing our passion gives us immense joy. So, we share our knowledge free of charge and have no expansion plans in the immediate future.”

Best practices: Organic farming

  • Cow dung & urine as manure 
  • Intercropping (rotation of crops)
  • Mulch with dried leaves & twigs 
  • Perimeter plantation of tall trees (windbreaker) 

Benefits of best practices

  • Enriches the soil
  • Full growth, natural pest control 
  • Enhances the nutrient value
  • Increases water retention, soil fertility & moisture content 
  • Reduces the ambient temperature by 4-5 degrees
  • Reduces water requirement by more than 50-70 pc

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