How Dr Pomegranate is saving crops and crop growers in Andhra Pradesh

Bhuvaneswar Chakravarthi, popularly known as Dr Pomegranate, who has not only made windfall gains by cultivating pomegranate himself, but also ensured people in the district are able to reap dividends from their crop. Photos: Jinka Nagaraju

Little did Ranganayakulu of Kuderu village in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district know that he was getting sucked into a vicious spiral when he chose to enter pomegranate cultivation two years ago.

The district, which receives the lowest rainfall in India after Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer, is known for groundnut cultivation under rain-fed conditions. Of late, sundry success stories and the pull of huge profit margins in pomegranate cultivation have, however, have driven farmers such as Ranganayakulu to shift to pomegranate.

Forty-year-old Ranganayakulu, a tenant farmer, planted pomegranate plants on about 12 acres. But the semiliterate farmer did not notice the misfortune waiting in the wings to strike. A devastating blight attacked his crop. Clueless about what to do, he rushed to the local country consultants, called ‘doctors’ in the region. On their suggestion, he applied several rounds of expensive pesticides, apart from paying them a hefty fee. But Ranganayakulu’s efforts did not bear fruits — literally.

The consultants and pesticide sellers reaped money. Ranganayakulu, however, lost the crop and his investment worth Rs 22 lakh. On March 29 this year, he died by suicide.
Villagers say Ranganayakulu could have been saved had he reached the ‘right doctor’ at the right time.

To continue reading this article...

You have to be a Premium Subscriber

Start your subscription with a free trial

Enjoy unlimited Eighth column, archives and games on and many more features.
You will also be supporting ethical and unbiased journalism.
plans start from Rs. 149