From taking a calculated plunge in the '60s, to cashing in on the wheat-rice boom in the '70s, and then diversifying timely into poplar cultivation during the '80s, this family from Ludhiana now owns an empire built on the Green Revolution.
The visible signs of their affluence - thanks to growing poplar tree on about 100 acres that yield about Rs 50 lakh per annum - include a 2,000-sq-yard house in a posh locality and a fleet of fancy cars headlined by an Audi Q5 besides two Hondas and an Alto just in case.
Ranbir Singh Sidhu, 41, recounts that his father Tehal Singh Sidhu along with his three brothers first started growing wheat and rice in Kanganwal and Pahwa villages near Ludhiana on land taken on lease: "With that working as the backbone to family, my father diversified into poplar in 1986. And now, we are owners of 100 acres." This risk-taking attitude is what Ranbir believes is the main factor behind the rise of his family.
-- Sachin Sharma
Karnal clan that moved away
For the Partition-hit Cheema family, which settled at Darad village in Haryana's Karnal (then Punjab) in the '50s after leaving their ancestral land at Sargodha in what became Pakistan, the Green Revolution brought about a much-needed change of fortunes.
At 16 in 1965, Gurdev Singh Cheema, now the family patriarch, took up farming when better irrigation facilities, high-yield seeds, effective fertilisers and fungicides helped boost profits from the two paddy crops and a wheat harvest each year after year. Before that, cotton and maize were sown in the area due to scarcity of water, he recalls. The Cheemas, who own 50 acres now, were also the first in the area to buy a tractor the same year.
Though still earning net profit of up to Rs 25,000 per acre per annum in the wheat-paddy cycle, Cheema's heir Harinder Singh is moving with the times. "For the past six years, we are sowing wheat for two seed companies. It is a highly profitable venture," he says. The family also runs a small-scale dairy, sows pulses and also organic wheat for personal consumption.
But their pride lies in the next generation getting good education. Gurdev says, "My son and nephews have also invested in real estate as profit margins in farming are shrinking due to rise in the cost of production." Vishal Joshi