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Prateek Sharma: The man who quit a bank job to create a broker-free market for farmers
Prateek Sharma was born in a village near Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. His family was mainly involved in farming. He started farming at the age of 10. Prateek moved to Bhopal for his studies after class 8. After a few years later Prateek Sharma was appointed as the chief manager of Kotak Mahindra Bank. Prateek Sharma left the job as a banker after ten years and started his farming venture in Bhopal. In 2015, he had set up a poly house in his farm to grow exotic and off-season vegetables. For him, quitting his job was not an easy decision to make as the income was not much from farming. It was difficult for him make a profit with the produce as the transportation charges and the cost of pesticides and chemical fertilizers were high. Moreover, the merchants who sell the produce, decide the price at which the produce is sold, thus bagging the profit. Prateek Sharma realized that he had to go for organic farming. Organic farming will create own value to produce. While talking to TBI Prateek said ” The first time I took my tomatoes to Mandi, I had to pay Rs 900 from my pocket, including the transportation and the best-high quality tomatoes were sold for Rs 1.25 per kg. That is where I realized that this model is not sustainable for farmers at all and that we have to go organic and create our own value chain. Prateek with Vinay Yadav, an educated farmer started their own value chain. They started selling their vegetables and grains while skipping the middlemen. Later they decided to form a group of farmers to grow varieties of vegetables.
For the next few months, they studied successful farming models and even trained at Abhinav farmer’s club, Pune. However their venture in the first year failed, the reason behind the failure was the limited knowledge of growing vegetables and from chemical to organic farming. The second round of crop was successful and they had a good amount of produce. Prateek took charge of marketing their produce and started taking their vegetables to Mandi twice a week. They also started getting loyal customers. Their team started helping other farmers to switch to organic farming. The team started two farmer resource centers one at Dhaba Khurd and other at Nathmula Ganj to get free training about organic farming. They also provided the resources required for organic farming.
When asked about what made him quit his job and do farming Prateek told, ”I came back to my village because farming was my first love. When I moved to my village I had never thought that I would do community farming. But eventually, realized that it was the need of the hour for the farmers. The USP of our model is that input cost is zero as we make all the organic manure and pesticides locally, there are no middlemen and so the farmers earn double than what he was earning before”.
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