I have always wanted to do farming and for the last 5-6 years, I’ve been trying to acquire land in my village in Rajastan where I’ve built my house. Finally in June, I managed to acquire some land. My Uncle then introduced me to a man named Modaram, whom I appointed as the caretaker of the land. I knew he was smart and intelligent but it was last week, when I spent two days in my village to acquire more adjacent land, that I could understand just how focused, responsible and accountable he is.
I wanted to see what he had done and how he has managed the land and cultivation in the last 5-6 months. To my surprise, just an hour and half of conversation on what he has done and what I wanted to implement, how he told me what needs to be done and what should not be done, I was more than impressed.
During the conversation, this illiterate man from a rural village made me realize how much a man can learn from his experiences and learning from nature. For every question, he had an answer and for every suggestion, he had a firm reason as to why it should be implemented. In short, this man knew all the practices you learn in a top Business Management school. And on top of all these, he displayed the true meaning of responsibility, accountability and ownership.
Here’s an account of the brilliance of this observant man and the fact that experiences are the best teachers, but only if you’re ready to learn from them.
Structuring a business deal:
When I asked him how he’d like to take up this job, he gave me three options.
Option 1 was since it was my land, I should invest in all the raw material like urea, seeds, electricity bills, and all the variable costs we invest 50-50. Whatever the crop comes, we would share it 50-50.
Second option he gave was since it was my land, I should invest in all the variables and he’d only take charge of the labor and managing the crop, and then we could share the profits 75-25.
Third option was that I pay him a monthly salary and he would manage everything. I would have to make 100% investment but then 100% of the profit would be mine.
In a nutshell, he had three structures to give, including the strategy, which I don’t think the best of students from the best of schools might know.
He bought the seeds and when I asked him why all of those seeds were not planted, he told me that the field being an open land, and probable rains approaching, planting all the seeds meant risking all the seeds at once, which also meant gambling on a huge amount of money spent on the seeds. He was not ready to take that risk.
Supply chain logistics:
When I saw that he had made a small vegetable garden for his daily requirements, I asked him why don’t we grow lot of vegetables and make revenue out of it. His response was immediate; the nearest markets where there’s a high amount of requirement for vegetables being 50-60 kms away and vegetables being highly perishable, it requires a well planned daily supply chain and logistics system. We should not be doing these till we have enough manpower to do it and until then, we should focus on grains which is not perishable and can be stored.
He had excellent knowledge on what to grow and when based on the market price, consumption of water and based on the seasons.
Low hanging fruits:
He also had the knowledge about those products which would turn around faster in a particular season. He was also familiar with what crops are better when starting with raw land to make the most of it and turn it into cultivable land.
I was amazed to see the way he distributed the water to the whole 25 acres. He had employed just one labor and when I asked him why we hadn’t employed more number of people, he said that for the amount of water available and to get the water available everywhere, a single person is more than enough. This instance proved to me his expertise in managing resources.
I wanted to get more buffaloes and cows to generate more revenue, but he asked me to wait for at least 3 years. By focusing on cultivation alone for the time being and not any other activities, he told that making soil more fertile should be our main focus for now. Once the land becomes fertile, the focus can be shifted to other activities like growing vegetables, and having buffaloes and cows, milk production, etc.
This man was in-charge of the entire activities going on in the farm. In his village, as the man of the house, his salary had a big responsibility. So, he brought his wife along with him so that she can cook for him. His three children also stay with them and go to school from the farm. He works full time and the kids, after coming back also joins in to help him. He drives a tractor and looks after the entire 26 acres of land.
I have never seen any employee putting his whole family to work and taking responsibility in such a manner and expecting nothing else more than the salary that I had fixed for him.
Since we did not have electricity, we had to make use of a pump for getting the water across the 26 acres. He was concerned about the amount of money that was being spent on diesel to pump water to fields. He was so worried that he was not able to generate more revenue for me than what was being spent on diesel.
I could see the concern in his eyes, when he told that we could get electricity easily and we should get it so that we don’t spend so much money on diesel. I haven’t seen an employee so responsible in all my years of owning a company.
When we were walking through the field, as it was a new land, there were pieces of rock. He would pick them up and throw it away from the field as we were walking and this happened on at least 5-6 instances.
I have never seen an employee taking such ownership of what was assigned to him.
In spite of knowing what the best of students from the best of schools might not know, he was still humble and 100% dedicated and expected nothing more from me.
If we go back 50-100 years, human beings used to be simple minded and humble, always learning from observation and experiences. But today, I think modern higher education has snatched away this capability. Rather than simplifying, higher education complicates things and instead of cultivating such talents, teaches us to ignore them to progress.
Here are some pictures from my trip.
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