Due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, a 25-year-old Jharkhand farmer was unable to sell his bumper watermelon harvest of 5 tonnes hence he offered the whole of his produce to soldiers of the Sikh Regimental Centre (SRC) at Ramgarh.
SRC officials, including commandant Brigadier M Sri Kumar, were moved by the gesture of Ranjan Kumar Mahto, a Ranchi University graduate who chose farming as a profession. They visited his farm in the neighboring Bokaro district and purchased the produce.
The soldiers and their families arrived at Kander, where the 25-acre farm is located. They came in with gifts, supplies, and meal packets for agricultural laborers, and drove the entire 5-tonne harvest to SRC, 15 kilometers away.
“Seeing drip irrigation on 25 acres of land was encouraging, but the impoverished farmer was unable to sell the produce. We also noticed ladies working.
Brigadier Kumar, who is also the president of the Ramgarh Cantonment Board, said, “We got to know that he had established the business two years ago but sustained losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic and cyclone Yaas.”
“However, throughout the lockdown, there were no purchasers. The harvest began to spoil. Nobody in the village was willing to pay even Rs 2 per kilo for it. We sought assistance from a variety of sources, but to no success. “Finally, I made the decision to give the produce away for free to our courageous soldiers and approached the cantonment,” he said.
Mahto has a workforce of roughly 40 women and has cultivated capsicum, brinjal, and other crops.