Indian agriculture has been one of the slowest in terms of adapting to changes and adopting newer technologies and techniques of crop production that are aimed at providing better financial stability to the farmers. This has been driven by many factors such as marginal holdings, lack of education, lack of resources and the will to change from the conventional system of agriculture and the crops that are associated with it. The modern market of agricultural commodities has revised the demand of various items and has also brought about demand of other newer commodities. Owing to which farmers of the nation must respond and practice farming in a manner that goes hand in hand with the market demand. Similar is the story of a 52 year old tribal woman named Prema who hails from HD Kote Taluk, Karnataka.


Prema who once was dependent on forest produce for her livelihood has now become a prime example for her community and has motivated a lot of men and women to do the same. However, this was tougher to achiever than it all seems as she was rehabilitated by the state government from Nagarhole forest in 2007 to the Sollepura reserve forest. The government back then had suggested Prema to take up farming but having no prior experience she was hesitant to do so. But she began her training from JSS Krishi Vigyan Kendra and Organic Krishi Kendra. She started by growing ragi, custard apple, cotton, corn and other commercial crops. But conventional farming gave her little revenue. Moreover, her 3-acre farm saw much damage when wild animals such as elephants would enter and eat her harvest.

To increase her profits, she in 2017-18 learned about Chia seed farming during one of the training courses organised by the KVK.

“I watched a video demonstrating the cultivation method. I was impressed after learning that the crop earned more profits than the conventional cotton crop”.


Prema added that from her 3 acre land, the cotton yield fetched her Rs 20,000 per acre whereas chia seeds could help earn up to Rs 1.20 lakh in the same area. Under the guidance of agriculture experts, Prema learned organic farming techniques and started growing chia. Her produce sells at Rs 280 a kilo.

“Chia seeds have great demand in the urban market. I realised this when organic retailers from Bengaluru approached me to buy the crop. I sold the harvest directly, without any transportation cost or involving a middle man, which cut down the marketing expenses”.


Alongside Prema 29 more farmers had taken up chia seed farming but only 6 could succeed in it and the others failed due to lack of knowledge and proper practices were required to grow chia seeds effectively. Prema was the only one to receive a bumper harvest that earned her over a lakh of rupees.

Chia is not only a lucrative crop but it favours the climatic and soil conditions that are available in the area where Prema lives. The cultivation is pretty similar to that of ragi and requires even lesser water for its growth. She sows the crop in September-October and the retreating monsoon provides enough irrigation to the crop. It takes a period of 40 days for the plant to flower.

Prema adds that an added advantage is that the chia harvest does not attract wild boars, elephants and other wildlife that might ruin the crops. She earned Rs 1.20 lakh from her first harvest and was able to afford a two-wheeler for her husband, Dasappa which made it convenient for them to commute and access the city.


Prema mentions that how she and her husband Dasappa travel on their bike to the neighbouring villages to provide them training about chia seed farming. Dasappa believes that chia farming helped them a lot and he wants to help others to earn more money by doing the same. For this they even travel to distances of up to 50 Km and also sell chia seeds to the farmers which add to their profit. So far the couple has motivated and successfully helped 15 farmers grow chia seeds and earn huge profits.

However, as more and more farmers took up chia seed farming the demand reduced a bit due to increased supply which plummeted the rate of the crop and now one earns around Rs. 80,000 from an acre of land compared to the earlier Rs. 1.2 lakh. . But the famers do not feel disappointed, as the earnings are still three times higher than what they used to gain by cultivating cotton and corn.

Prema has also started cultivating tomato, chillies etc through a mixed cropping pattern that has provided her better stability.


Formal education and success might be synonymous in some conditions but not every time. One must be willing to adapt to changes and opt for better opportunities for which courage, hardwork and will is all one needs. Prema had the will and courage to give up traditional crops and opt for chia seeds; she worked hard to learn the technique and grow the crop and now is rewarded every time her crops mature. For a farmer, being able to adapt to changes is crucial and having a progressive thinking is must in these times. A farmer should always be updated with new techniques and understand changing market demands.

One should never refrain from learning newer and better things from their surroundings and from the ones who have succeeded by practicing a particular practice. Prema did the aforementioned and came up from miserable conditions and poverty and is financially and emotionally more stable than ever and continues to grow further.

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