After completing his twelfth class, Manjit Singh took his father’s ideation of life seriously. Working within the orchard, he is creating a model of growth, reports Firdous Parray
If the surroundings do not offer adequate opportunities, it is better to look around within the space that is immediately yours. That is precisely what Manjeet Singh did.
Watching the state of economics in the Kashmir market and the drying up of jobs in the public and private sector, Singh, 24, started exploring the possibilities of work within his home at Chatrugam. Within a few years, he has emerged as a successful entrepreneur with no debts and a possibility to take his business to the next level.
Singh did his matriculation and spent two years at the Government Higher Secondary School, Bajwani. He completed his twelfth class in 2016.
Manjeet Singh, a twenty-four-year-old Sikh from Chatrugam Tral, has opened farming units of sheep, poultry, cows, rabbit, and orchards with different varieties of fruits, like apples, pear, cherry, peach and plum. He is one of the successful young entrepreneurs who started his business while in difficult conditions.
Soon after, while sitting in his orchard spread over 25 kanals of land, just in front of his home, he had a Eureka moment. He decided to start with a poultry farm within the apple orchard without disturbing the ecosystem. It was a success.
“Currently I have 300-400 chickens of 500 grams weight,” Manjit said. “Another flock of 100 chickens has crossed an average weight of a kilogram each.” Fed with greenery and being raised in a natural environment, the flocks grow quite fast and lay eggs too. “I sell the eggs to the local market in Tral and there is a good demand.”
Unlike the traditional farms that feeding Kashmir, Manjit is rearing the local chicken species that fetch almost double the price in the Kashmir market. His farm is a free-range farm where the chicken roams around, and are not caged, which makes them healthier, strong and their meat is hugely nutritious.
With one success and still a lot of space around, Manjeet started a sheep farm on the margins of his orchard. The small herd graze within the orchard without disturbing the apple trees. For most of the summer, he sends his herd up the Tral meadows deep inside the hills for grazing. Right now he has more than 80 sheep.
“There is always a huge demand for meat and chicken in Kashmir,” Manjeet said. “To fulfil this demand all unemployed youth must establish sheep farms.”
While taking care of the twin farms, Manjit explored inter-cropping and started growing vegetables. “I grow all the vegetables that the local market requires,” Manjit said. On average, he sells almost a ton of vegetables every season and that is not his main income.
Very recently, he started a rabbit farm. Off late, rabbit rearing has become a popular hobby among pet lovers. He got two pairs of rabbits.
“They have given birth to a dozen babies and l sell these rabbit kittens after a month at affordable prices, which ranges from Rs 200 to 400 an animal,” Manjit said.
What is remarkable is that Manjit has understood the ecosystem in which species complement each other. “I use the hen manure and sheep poo for my orchard as manure and this has improved the yield,” Manjit said. “The orchard’s apple production has increased from 1000 to 3000 boxes in all these years.”
All this was done by Manjit without seeking any funds from anybody. “I am not indebted to any financial institution,” he said. “I do not require it because all these projects are not so capital intensive.” His support, however, came from his parents. Right now, six persons are manning his farms.
Manjit gives credit for his success to his father, a serving employee of the animal husbandry department. Farming was his father’s idea. Though there were challenging issues initially, Manjit said his family supported him in the thick and thin of it.
“The concept of setting up these small farms was developed by my father,” Manjit said. “I am happy that instead of wasting time and waiting for a government job I started earning a good amount early.”
The early success has broadened the horizon of his thinking. “I have a big dream to set up more such units if the government provides financial support or training,” he said.