Dr Dinesh Patel doesn’t just practice medicine. He produces high shelf life products such as spray dried fruit powders, jams, flours, puffed rice etc under the brand Ecovitals in his 125-acre organic farm on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. “Though we have been farming here for decades, we started Ecovitals a few years ago. Our products called Power Packed Powders made from spray dried fruits are our most lucrative ones,” says the 60-year-old cardiologist. “This year we introduced mulberry jam, packaged oats and basmati rice.”
Patel spends time on the farm before going to his clinic. “My father had started farming here when I returned from Africa and started practicing as a doctor in the 80s. In the late-90s, I realised the seeds of destruction sown by conventional farming methods, which involve rampant use of chemical manures and pesticides to get quick yields. Being a doctor, I am aware of health risks of consuming such produce,” he says.
In 2000, he turned to organic farming after being inspired by Peter Proctor, a soil scientist, considered the father of modern biodynamic farming in New Zealand and India. “Biodynamic agriculture is an advanced form of organic agriculture that creates an ecosystem where bees, birds, butterflies, insects, earthworms and ants thrive and help in pollination,” says Patel.
Soil is prepared using biodynamic and vermi compost, biodynamic preparations and green manures like fast-growing legumes. “We are certified organic producers of wheat, paddy, bajra, maize, pulses-horse gram, sesame, fennel and cotton. Around 25 acres of our farm comprises orchards of chickoo, mango, amla (Indian gooseberry), lemon and vegetables,” he says. “We have a bee farm and sell fresh honey and jaggery at our farm shop. We also have a nursery that supplies plants suitable to the arid climate and soil of Gujarat.”
An inhouse food processing unit packages the products under the Ecovitals brand. “Powders produced from spray dried chickoo, amla and lemon are our best sellers,” he says. “Chickoo is popular for milkshakes, ice creams, puddings, desserts. Amla is a daily health tonic and is used in shampoos, creams and cosmetics. Lemon is used as a flavoring in puddings, cakes and yoghurt.”
The average price of products like chikoo and amla powder is Rs 80 to Rs 90. Initially, Patel’s investment was Rs 15,000 per acre; now it is Rs 4,000 per acre. The products are sold through retail outlets and via Patel’s website www.sardarpatelfarm.com.
● Patel turned to organic farming in 2000 after being inspired by a soil scientist in New Zealand
● The farm grows organic wheat, paddy, bajra, maize, pulses, sesame, cotton, among others
● An inhouse food processing unit packages the products under the Ecovitals brand
He now wants to show people “the farming processes, learn about biodynamic agriculture and buy products at our store. That will help promote the cause of sustainable agriculture’’.