Mrunal Manmay Dash

Koraput: With a penchant for new-age farming, a retired cop, Sharat Chandra Buruda from Sherpali village in Malkangiri is living his dreams by taking up integrated farming at a farmhouse near the citadel town.

Koraput is not just famous for its coffee plantations, but for an all-in-one farmhouse 'Abantika Agros' as well, which lies just 10 km south of Koraput. Owned by Buruda, the farmhouse which is built on eight acres of land hosts a range of plants, from Chikoo to Cherries, from Tomatoes to Cauliflowers and from Paddy to Raggi.

Buruda's dream project even houses livestock and fish farming, integrated to make it a more complete model of farming. The farmhouse is also equipped with modern machines to process grains like paddy and raggi that makes it self-sustaining.

A cop by profession, Buruda has served in many places of Odisha including, Cuttack, Ganjam, Koraput and Malkangiri. But the call of his ancestral trade, which basically is farming, got better of him when he retired from active services. Without missing a beat, he bought land near Koraput and started farming, but in a modern way.

In fact, Buruda and his wife even attend training sessions on bee farming, dairy farming, poultry farming etc. organized from time to time by OUAT in Bhubaneswar and other NGOs. It reflects in the variety of plants grown in his farmhouse. Buruda even grows spices like ginger, turmeric, bay leaf there.

Speaking about his family background, Buruda said, "We are the local tribals of Koraput. Our family has been farming for ages. As far as this nursery is concerned, I have planted over 65 species of plants here."

"Local farmers here are getting duped by Andhra Pradesh's sellers when they buy saplings from them. I want to train them in grafting, nursery development, and help them develop their own farm," added Buruda.

Buruda's love for farming goes to such an extent that he made it a point to make all the Police Stations he was posted in during his career, all greener by planting as many plants as possible.

Ruing the fact that, farmers in Odisha are still deprived of all the beneficial schemes of government, he says that the benefits of such schemes really do not reach the farmers' level. The officials at the grassroots level should be trained to be more public-friendly so that they can engage with locals and provide them with the benefits.

His son, Abhisek Buruda, who is a B.Sc (Agriculture) from Chandigarh University helps him inculcate the modern day practices which has made Abantika Agros a household name in the area.

"Our focus lies on supplying plants with good genetics and to promote integrated farming in the area," says Abhisek, when asked about his plans for the project.

"When my friends ask me, why I am not going to foreign countries for jobs, I say that I wish to make Koraput so attractive that foreigners would come here and not the other way around," He says.

The integrated farming system uses a more integrated approach to farming compared to monoculture approaches. It refers to agricultural systems that integrate livestock and crop production or integrate fish and livestock and may sometimes be known as integrated biosystems.

In this system, an inter-related set of enterprises is used so that the “waste” from one component becomes an input for another part of the system. This reduces costs and improves production and income.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)