Hailing from a family of agriculturists, farming came naturally to V.P. Nandakumar, MD and CEO, Manappuram Finance. After establishing himself in his core business, he started devoting more time to agriculture, doing things differently and seeing whether the technology and management practices - insights he had gained in business - could be replicated in farming. "My primary motive was always about learning and trying out new things, rather than profit-making." He owns a 10-acre farm in Kerala where he grows coconuts, banana, mango, jackfruit, vegetables, arecanut and nutmeg, among others. The farm also has cows, goats, ducks, poultry, ostriches, and exotic pigeons and parrots, besides fish farming. "When I want to relax, I take a stroll around my farm. I get positive thoughts, my creativity ignites."
Twenty-two men and 26 women work in the farm. Kerala, says Nandakumar, was desperately short of farm labour about 15 years ago, despite high daily wages. Men would refuse to work on farms for the whole day despite taking full wages. It was then Nandakumar encouraged his women workers to learn coconut harvesting. "The first reaction was of disbelief, but I told them to only climb shorter trees, although I would pay them the same wages as men. Gradually, they mastered the art of climbing taller tress as well."
Nandakumar plans to expand his farms in different regions. "I want to invest more in livestock and poultry, besides goats and quail etc," he says.