Turmeric Man of Himachal Pradesh

Turmeric Man of Himachal Pradesh

Colonel PC Rana's Journey in Reviving Turmeric Farming

Colonel PC Rana (retd) is a man of remarkable resilience. After serving the nation for 43 years in the Indian Army, including a stint as a revered Black Cat Commando, he returned to his roots and embarked on a new mission – reviving turmeric farming in his native Himachal Pradesh. This article explores Colonel Rana's inspiring story, his dedication to organic practices, and the innovative methods he employs to achieve agricultural success.

A Soldier's Return and the Challenge of Deserted Farms

Unlike many who seek a quieter life post-retirement, Colonel Rana yearned for a connection to his ancestral land. Upon returning to Balugloa village near Jwalamukhi, he found a disheartening sight – abandoned farms. Water scarcity, wild animals, and a lack of interest amongst the younger generation had crippled agriculture. This resolute soldier, however, saw an opportunity, not a defeat.

Embracing Innovation: The Rise of "Turmeric Man of Himachal"

Colonel Rana, with his characteristic spirit, decided to cultivate crops that wouldn't be ravaged by wildlife. After careful research, he identified turmeric as a viable option. His journey then became one of exploration and education. He travelled across India for three years, visiting turmeric farms and learning from experienced cultivators. This quest for knowledge led him to Dr. Prasad, a researcher focused on developing high-curcumin varieties.

The Quest for Quality

Dr. Prasad's insights on curcumin, the key component of turmeric, proved invaluable. Colonel Rana understood that high curcumin content fetches a premium price and is essential for export. Committed to organic practices, he adopted traditional low-input methods while integrating scientific knowledge. He identified the IISR PRAGATI variety, then known as ACC 48, for its high curcumin content and suitability for the climatic conditions of Himachal Pradesh.

Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Excellence

Colonel Rana's initial harvest yielded an impressive 24 tonnes of turmeric with a curcumin content of 5.2%. This success story spread like wildfire, attracting the attention of the Himachal Pradesh government, which purchased 30 tonnes of seeds from him. He addressed the concerns of fellow farmers by providing comprehensive guidance, from land preparation to post-harvest activities. He also established himself as a pioneer by obtaining the first organic certification for turmeric farming in the state.

Empowering Farmers and Ensuring Quality Control

Colonel Rana, ever the leader, understood the challenges of marketing faced by small farmers. He established a unique seed distribution system, ensuring the seeds were chemical-free and accompanied by training on organic practices and traditional processing methods. He implemented a two-pronged approach – the seeds were sold only to certified organic farmers, and the processing was done in-house using solar driers to preserve the curcumin content. This eliminated the risk of adulteration and ensured the highest quality turmeric reached consumers.

Beyond Turmeric: A Model for Sustainable Agriculture

Colonel Rana's vision extends beyond a single crop. He champions value addition and sells his produce directly to consumers through a farm-to-kitchen model, eliminating middlemen and maximizing profits for farmers. Recognizing the potential for diversification, he cultivates other crops like ginger and bitter gourd, even producing pickles from these. His success story has inspired not just farmers but also young technology students and professionals who see immense potential in replicating his model.

A Legacy of Knowledge and Inspiration

Colonel Rana's unwavering commitment to knowledge and his willingness to share his expertise have made him a role model. He acknowledges the importance of mentors in his journey and readily extends the same support to others. Universities and government departments are adopting his model, recognizing its potential to revolutionize agriculture in Himachal Pradesh.

Colonel PC Rana's story is a testament to the power of dedication, innovation, and a deep respect for tradition. He is a beacon of hope, not just for turmeric farming but for the future of sustainable agriculture in India. His journey serves as an inspiration to all who dare to dream and strive to make a positive impact on the world.

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