This profile was prepared when Ravindra Shetye was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
By attracting investment to convert uncultivable land into profitable farms, Ravindra is creating a successful agricultural model for regions in India with large stretches of land suffering from deforestation, fragmentation, and a lack of farmers. Tapping into the resources of villagers who have gone to work in the city but who still own land back home, Ravindra is creating a system to encourage investment in agriculture and help poor farmers attain prosperity. To show that his idea works, Ravindra has transformed seventy acres of derelict land into a high-yielding plantation of crops including mango, cashew, and coconut. He has shown the investors that agriculture can be a profit-making venture and has demonstrated to the agricultural workers that local farming can generate employment, as well as a much needed green cover. His idea is a powerful combination of focused and unified strategies: cost-effective farming methods, a fair labor policy that provides marginal farmers and small landowners with year-round employment and training, maintenance of high-quality seeds and crops, and effective marketing. His idea is replicable in the many other regions with similar socio-economic and ecological characteristics.