Heros and change makers of Indian Agriculture
If you dream, set your goals and work towards it with commitment nothing is impossible.
Inspirational story of Mr. M Prakash, Owner and founder of Ekalavya Nursery, Bengaluru
This 48-year old man is an inspiration for the young generation to take up farming. His success story is an example of hard work and determination to excel. It’s nothing less than a miracle what he has achieved with just a humble beginning of Rs.180 as a capital in his bank account in the year 2001.
He has introduced high quality seedling nursery in India and has done some pioneering and transformational work in this field.
Prakash comes from a typical joint family of framers and they were growing Corsandra flower making about Rs.30000 per month. This plant was susceptible to disease and hence this small income was also unpredictable.
In the year 2001 there was a division in the family. About 2 acres of land came in his share. Prakash tried to revive his crossandra farming. However he soon realized that it was a loss making proposition. He was exploring something new and during this time he contacted IIHR (Indian Institute of Horticultural Research Hasergetta) Bengaluru. He found a mentor in Dr. N Ramachandran who motivated him to grow vegetable seedlings using better techniques. Since Dr. N Ramachandran from IIHR supported, mentored and guided Prakash, he decided to name his nursery as “Ekalavya”.
What was new about the technology??
Traditionally the farmers used to prepare their own seedlings in soil and they had to wait for transplanting when their seedling was ready. This method had many problems like
- Transplanting damages.
- Low growth of white roots due to poor penetration in soil.
- Exposure to soil borne disease.
- Lack of uniformity of seedlings.
- A weaker seedlings growing into a weaker plant which was more susceptible to disease and pest attack.
- Germination percentage of seedling.
- Mortality of seedlings.
What was the change brought by Prakash under the guidance of IIHR?
A good quality seedling is a must for a high quality production in agriculture. Only a healthy child can turn into a healthy adult. Besides the quality of seedling and outsourced production, farmers could save 30-40 days time by getting ready made seedling. Prakash saw the opportunity to provide healthy and professionally grown seedling in trays and coco-peat growing media which resulted in:
- Better quality of seedlings and healthy plants
- Uniform saplings
- No soil borne disease
- No transportation damage.
- Readymade plants availability and farmers save time.
- Less mortality
- Higher yield
Mr. Prakash with Mr. Onler Kom ( Husband of Mrs. M. C. Mary Kom who recently visited Ekalavya nursery)
Struggle to Introduce a new concept:
In the year 2001 Prakash started just with 10 trays (about 1000 seedlings) and 2 KG of coco-peat with Rs 180, as a capital investment. He checked the performance of these seedlings in his own field before taking it to others and was convinced that the idea is worth spreading.
Adaptation of technology among farmers those days was not easy. He went around meeting several farmers, and tirelessly convinced many farmers for more than 2 years to use better technology. Finally he decided to spend his time and energy on one farmer and make him successful. In the year 2003, he selected a progressive farmer Mr. Nanjunda Swamy from the nearby village and made him use better technology for the whole year leading him to success through his guidance. This success story spread like a wild fire and farmers who were hesitant to use this new technology to get higher yields by following the guidelines of Mr. Prakash. Since then Prakash has never looked back.
The 4 pillars of Prakash’s road to success
- High quality product
- Education based marketing
- Extension of technology
- Entertainment and fun
Prakash has strongly believed that use of high quality input leads to high quality output. A healthy seedling with a stronger root system ensures a healthy plant. He strongly believes that marketing is a byproduct of education to use right quality. He advises farmers right from soil testing to better growing technologies like drip irrigation, mulching, fertigation, nutrition and other agronomical advises. This make him different compared to just being a supplier.
He maintains a perfect work and life balance giving equal importance to entertainment, recreation and fun in life. He is ably supported by his wife Bharati, son Bharat and daughter Meghna.
From just 1000 seedlings per cycle Ekalavya Nursery has a present annual production capacity of 80 lakhs seedlings per cycle of 40 days. Its facility includes 2.5 acres of shade net house, 9000 square meters of greenhouse and acre of hardening plot. All this facility has added up to a annual production capacity of 90 to 100 million seedlings per year and present annual turnover of approximately Rs 2.5 crores.
Some highlights of improved technology introduced and presently being used by Ekalavya:
- Use of Jiffy plugs:
Recently Ekalavya Nursery has started using jiffy plugs for growing seedlings resulting for better root development. Jiffy plugs also reduce transportation damage and maintain the root ball in perfect condition. Prakash is not hesitant to try new things if it is beneficial to the farmers.
- Use of growing benches:
Ekalavya Nursery uses growing benches which enables better aeration compared to placing the seedlings on the soil. This enables better white root generation and making a quick establishment post transplantation.
- Conveyor belts:
Ekalavya this yeas installed the central conveyor belt system for rapid movement of seedling trays out of the greenhouse. This is first of its kind in India.
- Use of Only rainwater:
Ekalavya uses only rainwater to raise the seedlings to maintain high quality of seedlings and take advantage of zero EC of rain water.
Ekalavya Nursery specializes in cabbage, cauliflowers, tomato, capsicum, papaya and egg plants. Recently they have also started supplying seedlings for all seasonal flowers like Petunia, Begonia, Gazania, celosia, Geranium dahlia etc. to ornamental plant nurseries. As a way forward, Prakash is going to expand his business in the direction of Grafted vegetable seedlings business.
NEW FACILITY CREATED BY EKALAVYA NURSERY
COUNTRY NEEDS MORE HEROS LIKE PRAKASH
Prakash may be contacted on:
Pakegowdanapalya, Hessarghatta Hobli,
Cell : 9448306101