Champion farmer comes to share skills

14 September 2014 - 02:02 By Santham Pillay

Indian citizen Sumant Kumar's knowledge of South Africa used to be restricted to Nelson Mandela and cricket.

Next month he will be extending his knowledge when he begins a five-year tenure as an instructor to farmers across the globe.

Kumar, a rice farmer from the Darveshpura village of Nalanda district in Bihar, will arrive with the aim of training South African farmers in the art of paddy cultivation.

"I heard about South Africa because of Nelson Mandela and the cricket team. I watch cricket and I am a big fan of Jacques Kallis.

"Now I am happy that I will get a chance to work with the farmers of South Africa and I will get to know the culture as well," he said.

The farmer became a legend of sorts in his home country when he broke a paddy cultivation record in 2012.

He accomplished this by honing a rice intensification method, which he adopted from American scientist Norman Uphoff.

Kumar was approached by Agricole Asia, a global agriculture and technology firm, which made contact with him through his Facebook page.

The page is monitored by an Indian NPO called the Sajal Foundation.

He was offered a five-year contract to train farmers across the globe, starting in Africa.

Kumar will receive a monthly salary of R8800 in exchange for his expertise.

The father of two has big plans for the added income.

"With the help of the Sajal Foundation I will start training farmers in India on a larger scale," he said.

His trip to South Africa will be Kumar's first out of India.

He said the idea of living in South Africa was a source of great excitement for him and his family.

"Indian farmers rarely get a chance to travel abroad and I am one of the lucky people.

"I will be honoured to work in the country of Nelson Mandela."