Kerala's ‘farmer with an Audi’ shares the secret of his success

Sujith SP, who studied hotel management, grows vegetables, flowers and paddy using organic and precision farming in Alleppey. He deploys efficient farming techniques to boost production and uses social media for marketing and knowledge-sharing

Chandhini R
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Sujith SP grows organic vegetables, paddy and flowers using precision farming

Sujith SP grows organic vegetables, paddy and flowers using precision farming

In 2023, Sujith SP, a farmer from Alleppey, Kerala, garnered national attention as he drove his Audi to the local market to sell spinach. Although unaware that this would go massively viral, Sujith is delighted because that video has reshaped the image of farmers. 

"Traditionally, farmers remind us of an elderly person struggling in his fields. I'm pleased that people now know of the new Indian farmer, a young, happy person carrying the baton forward," Sujith tells 30 Stades, beaming with pride. 

With almost a decade of experience in farming and a thriving social media presence, 37-year-old Sujith is popular as Variety Farmer – his social media username. He has been experimenting with new farming techniques and adapting them to Alleppey's sandy terrain. He is also the recipient of the Kerala State Award for Best Young Farmer (2014), the Yuvajana Kshema Board Award for Best Farmer (2020) and the Kerala State Award For Youth Icon (2023).

Hotel management to farming 

Growing up in an agrarian family in Alleppey's Cherthala, Sujith's childhood hobby was assisting his mother in cultivating spinach, beans and ash gourd over around 50 cents (0.4 acres) of land.

"Since agriculture is not viewed as a lucrative full-time profession, I was asked to pursue a different path and hence I studied hotel management. Subsequently, I did various jobs, ranging from sales to hotel business. Nothing gave me job satisfaction and good income. So in 2013, I returned to my roots -- farming.”

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Sujith SP with his ash gourd plantation. Pic: Variety Farmer

Sujith began farming with the little money he had. At that time, farming was predominantly done from January to April when water drains in the field as Alleppey lies below the sea level. He was satisfied with the yields. Then, along with a few other farmers, he created a 50-member collective. They attended several workshops in different districts like Thrissur and Palakkad to learn and update their knowledge about hi-tech farming mechanisms. 

Precision Agriculture 

"Many said such advanced farming wouldn't be possible in Alleppey's sandy terrain. However, we took a risk and applied for a bank loan to implement open precision farming,” he says. Precision agriculture (PA) reduces labour costs and improves crop yields by using technology like sensors and analysis tools. 

Instead of treating the fields as one land parcel, PA looks at them as management zones based on soil pH levels, pest infestation, yields etc. Technology is used to map production, use of fertilizers, irrigation requirements and also crop quality. 

“This technique aims to increase the yield by ensuring the use of efficient tools. In the first set, we successfully grew lady's finger, spinach, beans and brinjal in my 50 cents land. We pioneered this approach in Alleppey, and it proved successful beyond expectations. My next step was to search for leased land to expand my farming operations," he shares. 

Also Read: Engineer quits US job to cultivate exotic fruits in TN, earns four times more per acre than traditional fruits

sunflower precision farming
For precision farming, the soil has been covered with coir for sunflower plantation (left). Pic: Variety Farmer

Currently, Sujith is doing organic farming of paddy and vegetables on around 30 acres of land spread over Kanjikuzhi, Cherthala, Muhamma and Thanneermukkom in Alleppey.

Precision farming techniques 

Sujith adopted the Israeli technique to grow bananas. 

He planted three different types of banana saplings - Robusta, Ethan, and Poovan - per pit instead of one. This ensures different harvest times and a regular market supply. 

He employed tunnel farming with tomatoes and chillies, of which the latter was successful. He constructed a 5ft tunnel and cultivated crops within it. According to Sujith, it keeps heat under control and pests away from the crops. 

"The goal should be to adopt farming techniques that are favourable to changing climatic conditions and yield maximum from limited space. For this, I encourage, inter-cropping, multi-cropping and crop rotation. Besides, farming can be done on small pieces of land with regular breaks before every other cycle," Sujith adds.

Mustard precision farming
Mustard cultivation with precision farming. Pic: Variety Farmer

Sujith opts for natural manure and chemical-free fertilisers and emphasises the use of tools like foilers and tractors for efficient processes. He utilises drip irrigation and says cultivating in small patches of land will ensure less to no pest attacks. 

Also Read: Lawyer quits job to grow raspberry and blueberry in Pune; gets bumper harvest

Pricing and revenue model 

Sujith grows at least seven to eight varieties of vegetables according to the season. He believes that sticking to the cultivation of only 1 or 2 crops might not be feasible in marketing. 

"Now, it is the season for cucumber and melons, so we would focus more on cultivating such veggies which have a demand. Likewise, ahead of the Onam festivity, we will be growing flowers,” he says. 

“So on average, per month, Rs 1 lakh is assured as income, excluding the costs and other expenses.”

“I also rear fish, ducks and hens. Mixed farming is an impressive and profitable farming technique,” he adds. Sujith further explains that he fixes prices for the products based on the quantity of production. If they produce in a small quantity, it will be sold for a higher price. 

Also Read: Maharashtra’s engineer-farmer earns profit of Rs 9 lakh per acre from dragon fruit farming

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Sujith SP's organic produce gets much higher market rates. Pic: Variety Farmer

"Since we don't use any chemical fertilisers, the production is only around 70 percent of the regular produce but of premium quality. So, let's say, the price for our lady's finger will be Rs 42 to Rs50 while non-organic varieties sell for Rs 20-30 per kg. Likewise, we sell gourds for a minimum of Rs15 per kg. The products are usually sold in nearby local markets. If there is any excess, I go to the market and sell it myself.”


Sujith highlights that besides learning all things agriculture, a farmer must be on his game when it comes to marketing. He owes it to social media which has been a boon to him. 

"From 2015 to now, I transitioned from Facebook to Instagram, where I not only market my products but also raise awareness and share my knowledge about farming techniques,” he says.

“In the next phase, I am planning to launch an app to sell my products" he shares. 

Also See: Veer Shetty: The truck driver who became a millet millionaire

Farming and its future

"In today's time, everyone needs good quality food. So farming, I believe, is an essential skill. I wish more youth were drawn towards farming. More success stories like mine should come to the limelight that will encourage youth to consider farming as an occupation. With their adept skill, they can easily learn fast, keep up-to-date and adopt technology and there will be more scope for expansion," Sujith opines. 

He also shares that in a place like Alleppey, there is a lot of scope for farm tourism. Many visitors, particularly tourists from abroad, seek a cultural experience. They appreciate an authentic, rooted village encounter, and such farm tourism can be beneficial. 

"That apart, anyone who is interested in taking up farming must be ready to keep updating and learning new things. From realising that farming is my calling, to being able to buy and drive an Audi car for selling my products, I am proud of my journey," Sujith signs off. 

(Chandhini R is a Kerala-based journalist specialising in human interest, entertainment, and art and culture stories)

Also Read: This 29-year-old grows organic exotic fruits in his backyard, gets bumper crops

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