“I would ask many questions every time I met a farmer.”
Meet Sajna Mohammed – an organic farmer from Kakkanad. She is the recipient of several awards – Thrikkakara Krishi Bhavan’s Best Farmer Award, Edapally Block’s Best Woman Farmer Award, and Ernakulam District’s Best Woman Farmer Award.
But what is interesting is that Sajna didn’t even think much of farmer ten years ago. In fact, she was an assistant professor.
Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons why Sajna Mohammed, an assistant professor from Kakkanad, decided to move to organic farming a decade ago was the pressing need to provide chemical free fruits and vegetables to children.
Sajna began organic farming to produce just enough for her immediate family. But the benefits of organic farming were so great that she decided to make a profession out of it.
Sajna’s first encounter with the commercial viability of organic farming started when Sajna’s father asked her to sell their produce of Bird’s Eye Chili (Kanthari Mulaku) at a local store. Seeing the commercial value in it, Sajna started exploring this idea further.
A report in the Times of India, reads, “I got Rs 400 for a kilo, and it dawned on me that my household has the best resources. I left my job right away, and there was no turning back.”
Sajna also attended various classes and would visit the Krishi Bhawan often to understand the local practices firsthand. “I would ask many questions every time I met a farmer,” she says in this YouTube interview.
In the beginning, Sajna faced a lot of problems in marketing and selling her produce. The local shopkeepers did not understand the concept of organic farming and hence did not trust her crops. However, in time, the customers started seeing the benefits of her produce and today approach her directly and even pre-book fruits from her farm.
One of the turning points in her life was a movie titled – ‘How old are you?’. This Malayalam movie tells the tale of a middle-aged woman who takes charge of her life and starts organic terrace farming. The protagonist in the movie, like Sajna, faces certain setbacks but continues to work hard towards her ultimate goal.
Today, Sajna’s farm produces black peppercorn, ginger, turmeric, guava, lemon, oranges, durian, jackfruit, Musambi and passion fruit among other fruits and spices.
Her success has inspired others in her neighbouring flats as well.
She told the Times of India, “Some of them, who had no inclination towards farming earlier, now get saplings from me and plant them in grow bags on their balcony. They also send pictures of the harvest to me. Many have also made vertical gardens.”
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