Abdul Rauf A Shaikh is no ordinary farmer. A school dropout, he holds a honorary doctorate from the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad.
His was an achievement that was won despite dramatic turns in life which saw his fortunes swing from a landlord to a farm worker.
Shaikh lost his father when he was hardly 11 years old. His family had 13 acres and 20 guntas of ancestral property near Banavasi.
But when the Tenancy Act was implemented, they lost their ancestral property and he had to quit his studies to work as an agricultural labourer.
Shaikh, known as Krishi Rishi among people in Banavasi, became a farmer again after his former tenant agreed to return one acre of his ancestral property in 1966.
Says Shaikh: “I would have continued with my studies if I could get `35 to pay my school fees when I was in standard VIII. But circumstances forced me to take up farming.”
Through sheer determination and hard work, Shaikh acquired over 350 acres in the next few years. “There were times I cried when the rains failed. But by the grace of God and hard work, I was able to become what I am today. I am happy to see people looking up to me and seeking my guidance,” he said.
His achievements and philanthropic works made him popular among people in and around Banavasi.
Acknowledging his passion for farming, the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, conferred an honorary doctorate on him in 2006.
Recently, at an innovative farmers’ meet, Animal Husbandry Minister T B Jayachandra respectfully addressed Shaikh as Dr Abdul Rauf A Shaikh.
Meanwhile, Shantinagar MLA N A Harris has requested Shaikh to help him make farming profitable in his 150 acres of agricultural land.
Shaikh claims that a family can lead a comfortable life with just two acres. “I can help you earn up to `10 lakh a year by growing plantains in two acres. Hard work never fails to pay,” he told one of his fellow farmers.
Shaikh grows pineapple, plantain, coconuts, areca, vanilla and other crops in his field and exports them to other states.
He regularly helps people in the region and provides books and school fees to poor students. He has been conferred the Dr M H Marigowda Best Horticultural Farmer Award by the UAS, Bangalore and the Kayaka Ratna award by Sri Shivamurthy Muragarajendra Swami of Murugamutt.