Rafello Khongwar is a 30 years old graduate student from the Indian district of Ri-Bhoi. Agriculture, vegetables, fruit crops, piggery, poultry and fishery compose his six farming systems. After running his own enterprise for the last four years, he could earn a rich dividend from kharif vegetable cultivation as well as from poultry farming and, as a record, he earned a net profit of 68,935 IRP in seven months (around 1,145 USD) out of the raising of 2,400 birds.
In spite of the unemployment pressure, Rafello did not succumb to it and quite intelligently opted for the farming profession where his father and forefathers did have expertise. However, he didn’t stick to his parental land for developing an integrated farming system; instead, he selected nearly 5 acres of land in a village and finally purchased the land by taking a loan from his relatives.
In the beginning, this young farmer had the plan to develop a farming system in such a way that least amount of inputs would be needed from outside. At the same time, he also wanted to follow the tradition of the ‘khasi’ tribal farming community of not using any sort of chemicals in agricultural operations.
Making a sustainable farming model
Once the land was procured, Mr. Khongwar rightly contacted the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) for getting the necessary guidelines to establish his farming system’s model. After a number of visits and detailed discussions, he was advised to go for a number of components simultaneously to make his method sustainable. Moreover, he was taken to other model farming systems developed by ICAR Research Complex for the North Eastern Hill (NEH) Region to explain the scientific concept behind them.
Thanks to the advice of ICAR scientists, he divided his land in such a way that more areas could be brought under agriculture and horticulture, and all the components could be viable and inter dependent.
The beginning: poultry and piggery
Rafello started piggery and poultry initially by keeping ten pigs and 1,000 poultry birds in properly constructed houses where he put all the required facilities like netting, wiring, feeding trays, etc., along with adequate management practices. He also made the arrangements to collect pig and poultry waste for its application into agricultural field and fishery ponds.
After running this poultry and piggery unit for one year successfully, the following year this young farmer started fishery and agriculture with proper stocking ratio and crops’ selection like maize, rice and vegetables to feed the pigs, poultry and fish. The pig and poultry waste was collected so carefully that he could even sell it also to other neighboring farmers after applying into his agricultural field and fisher pond.
Farming: a successful way of livelihood
The development of the farming system model by Mr. Khongwar has not only been beneficial to him in terms of livelihood but it has also influenced other unemployed young professionals of the neighboring areas to seriously think about this profitable proposition. ICAR has also tried to highlight his success by arranging coverage through Kishan Channel and entrepreneurs’ visits to his forming system, as well as by narrating his story to all the adopted and non adopted farmers.
Rafello had to show great determination in setting up such an example, as it is not very popular among the educated youth of Meghalaya. Still, he went for it overcoming the initial challenges with guts, even when no organization except for ICAR came forward to extend help in this regard.
Now, this young farmer is trying to get financial assistance from the banks and State departments to expand his system but until the date he hasn’t managed to do so. Hopefully success’ promotion will draw the attention of concerned people towards Mr. Reafello Khongwar so that he and other young farmers will receive some assistance and will prove others wrong in not choosing farming as their main livelihood.