Express News Service
KHAMMAM: It is a known fact that the Covid-19 outbreak and the back-to-back lockdowns had a telling effect on all sectors, pushing the economy to the brink while rendering many, including youngsters, jobless in the process. While it took many such persons who became incomeless a lot of time before they could limp back to normalcy, 40-year-old Mohammed Abdul Maqbool, who worked as a software engineer, decided not to bow down to fate. Now, he is one of the most successful dragon fruit farmers in Burgampad mandal of Bhadradri-Kothagudem district.
Pointing out that neither the officials nor the acquaintances trusted or helped him when he decided to turn a two-acre wasteland into a fertile one, Maqbool said that he faced many hardships during the initial days. “It took me several months to get an electric meter for farm motor,” he says.But the techie-turned-farmer was not ready to give up. With the help of solar panels, he began operating the farm motor to provide water to his crop.
After completing his Masters in IT at Osmania University, Maqbool went to Indonesia and joined a firm as project manager. However, the pandemic outbreak shattered his dreams and left the techie incomeless, as a result of which he returned to his native village of Sarapaka in 2020. “During my stay in Indonesia, I studied about dragon fruit cultivation, out of interest. This helped me get back on feet after I lost the job. I purchased dragon fruit saplings from AP and Gujarat and started planting them on my two-acre wasteland,” an enthusiastic Maqbool points out.
Mentioning that he struggled a lot to find irrigation water during the initial days, Maqbool says even borewells couldn’t save him at first.“Out of concern, a few farmers who were cultivating in lands nearby advised me to drop the idea completely as even they were not getting adequate water. However, I tried harder and dug a new borewell with Rs 1 lakh, which proved helpful,” he shares.
Though he didn’t assume that it would be a cakewalk from there, little did Maqbool expect that the officials would make him run from pillar to post for various approvals.“I had to knock on various doors at the MRO office for months before getting an electric meter for farm motor. I faced similar experiences at the Genco office too. By then, I had reached a point wherein ‘giving up’ was not an option. Irked with the attitude of officials, I erected solar panels on my land. Now, we are able to provide adequate water to the entire crop,” Maqbool says.
Till now, he has managed to grow about 40 kg of the fruit, which were sold in local markets for Rs 250 to Rs 300 per kg. Maqbool exuded confidence that he would be able to grow at least 20 tonnes of the fruit in the next three years and earn Rs 10 lakh per year. He is also planning to export the produce to foreign countries such as Kuwait and Qatar. Blaming the system and the apathy of officials for farmer suicides, Maqbool said: “While in Indonesia, I used to wonder as to why these many ryots were killing themselves. Now, I understand the reason behind it.”