A staunch Gandhian and philanthropist, Bhavarlal Jain was also a philosopher, industrialist, writer, advocate, businessman, entrepreneur and farmer all in one! How effectively he popularised drip irrigation!
Bhavarlal Jain, fondly called as Bhau, was the founder of Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd (JISL) that pioneered micro irrigation in India. It is currently the second largest micro-irrigation company in the world. It has a strong belief that every farmer is its customer.
Right from an early age, Jain focused on agriculture with three objectives - help farmers, conserve natural resources and look after animals. With an initial investment of Rs 7000 in 1963, he started his career by selling kerosene in the Jalgaon region of Maharashtra. He set a sales target of a million rupees in just a year. He quickly reached the target and diversified his product line to include agriculture related products such as tractors, fertilisers and pesticides.
With the mission to “Leave the world better than you found it,”JISL focused on providing agronomical and technical education on micro irrigation systems to small farmers. Bhau had a clear vision to help farmers by providing them access to farmer-friendly technical expertise. It would help the farmers to conserve resources and ultimately improve their standard of living.
It was during this journey he was exposed to micro irrigation. In a country like India, made up of complex and intertwined waterways, fresh rainwater and flood irrigation were the only traditional methods to irrigate agricultural lands. In such a tradition, introduction of micro irrigation systems at the national level was not easy.
The key advantage of micro irrigation is water conservation, as water droplets are served only to the plant parts essential for growth. This type of irrigation is more energy-efficient and saves upto 65 per cent of water when compared to the traditional irrigation systems. The use of micro irrigation system has led to an increase in the farmer’s income of Rs 35,000 and more.
Bhau implemented drip irrigation systems in 1980. What further makes the business model different is its reach to the niche of small farmers. In addition, he meticulously planned technical education and training for these farmers. With the sale of about 50,000 micro irrigation systems, the return on investment for this technology is 7 times!
Under the leadership of Bhau, JISL has created a unique business model with shared values amongst all components of its value chain. This makes the final outcome a win-win for all its stakeholders. It is also the formula that makes JISL’s business model a sustainable one. For instance, the agricultural produce reaped from the benefits provided by JISL to farmers was bought by JISL’s processing division and was sold in domestic and export markets.
Currently, JISL has plants in eight states in India and is present across four continents including America, Australia, Europe and Africa. The company currently has a turnover of over a billion dollars. Their range of products is supplied to 116 countries. JISL, through the vision of Bhau, has reached out to over 4.5 million farmers globally. Further, the company has created a successful CSR model focusing on the farmer.
Bhau’s vision to make the world a better place is passed on to his four sons who are passionate about agriculture and farmers just as their father was. He had proved to the world that systems like micro irrigation can transform thousands of acres of barren land to cultivable ones – as he had proved at the headquarters of JISL.
Though Bhau has left the world, his spirit is very much alive through JISL and the farmers to whom too he has made a difference!