TAMIL NADU AGRICULTURE: A Date with farming
A software engineer gives up his job in the US to grow dates
Before starting date farming in Tamil Nadu, Anbazhagan was a software engineer in California. But he left his job to grow dates in a place that was declared unfit for the cultivation of this fruit by scientists.
''In Tamil Nadu every agricultural scientist is convinced that dates cannot be grown as there is no desired climatic condition. A family I met showed me a date tree that was grown from a seed. It had no fruits. None knew that it was a male tree. In India, dates cultivation is done in Gujarat. Naveenbhai Sodhakar, a scientist from Gujarat, agreed to help me. He came to Tamil Nadu and encouraged me. I brought date seedlings that were grown in Dubai after being created in London by tissue culture. They are six month old seedlings," Anbazhagan said.
In 2007, he opened a date farm in Mullipadi, a village five kilometre from Dindigul town. He imported 616 seedlings, each costing Rs 3,500. He spent Rs 21 lakh for the seedlings alone. Upset with the expenditure, his father asked him to do some other business. But Anbazhagan persisted.
TSI visited the 12 acre farm managed by Anbazhagan and saw that all the seedlings have grown up to ten feet height. Most of them bear fruits which are spectacularly bright yellow in colour. ''These trees will live another 65 years. They will grow till 60-70 feet height. After three years, these trees will give 25-30 kilograms each. And after five years they will give 50 kilograms. We sell dates at Rs 300 per kilogram," said a beaming Anbazhagan who sells his dates in the name of his farm: TR and Sons. From an obscure software engineer, Anbazhagan has become an innovative farmer. Also, he has become a popular farmer.
''In India, many people are anaemic. Dates are essential food item now. And they come in 2,000 varieties. Bahri is one important variety which I am growing now," he said. Now his dream is to expand this farm into 200 acre. After reading about his success story, many of his friends in the US want to take a plunge in date farming in Tamil Nadu. Anbazhagan acquired basic knowledge of date farming from the farms in America.
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