Over the past few months, I have been closely following the stories of farmers and people who gave up their city jobs to take up farming. Each story inspires me as it revolves around the narrative of living close to nature, of growing food and understanding that organic cultivation is the way to the future.
These stories have always posed certain questions to the urbanite in me. How does it feel to get your hands dirty while farming? And how easy or difficult is this occupation? For those in Bengaluru, like me, who want to try their hand at farming, but are not sure if they can go all in, M Sunil Kumar offers a rent-your-farm option at an affordable rate of Rs 2 per square feet!
Sunil, who has a Master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences, worked at a corporate job in Bengaluru for 14 years until the mediocrity got to him. Since he had grown up in a family with a farming background, he understood that agriculture is the need of the hour.
Inspired by the concept of self-farming wherein people take responsibility to grow what they consume, Sunil started this venture in the heart of Bengaluru.
It is a Gandhian philosophy to labour in proportion to our consumption and Swayam Krishi is trying to implement this concept in the field of agriculture. “Hundreds of people living in cities have, in recent times, become excited to farm. The problem is that they don’t have land. Those who have the land, don’t have the expertise and those who have both, don’t have labourers. Swayam Krishi is bridging all these gaps together to help an urban farmer farm,” Sunil says in conversation with The Better India.
The concept in itself is quite simple. You, as a client, rent a plot from the organisation at Rs 2 per square feet. From a small 500 square feet to a huge 1 acre, you can choose a plot of any size and rent it for four months to a year. On this plot, you will be guided on sowing techniques, the technicalities of nurturing your crop and harvesting.
Says Sunil, “I want to encourage people to spend time on their farms.
“The only way of making organic vegetables affordable is if people grow the food themselves and to achieve that, we need to make people spend time on their farms.”
Once people rent the farm, they go back to the cities and not return for about four weeks. The labourers at Swayam Krishi take care of their farm during this time. After four weeks, the vegetables start growing.
“I send them photos of this development and that brings the people back to the farms. Slowly and steadily, this idea is showing my customers how wonderful and equally tough it is to grow a crop. This, I hope, will encourage them to start growing their own food and stop wasting the food they get,” he shares.
When he started the venture in 2015, Sunil had spoken to his friends and family about the importance of subsistence farming. He began with only one customer. But the idea, as sustainable, innovative and adventurous as it is, soon got more attention. Today, he is 166 clients strong, each of whom has deep admiration about the processes.
Sunil explains that at a set amount, the organisation offers land, seeds, labour, manure and expertise to maintain your farm.
From tomato, cucumber and carrots, you can also grow your own broccoli and various gourds and beans. The farming process is fully organic wherein Sunil and the labourers offer innovative solutions like natural insecticides and pesticides to replace chemicals. You begin by planting the seeds and once the WhatsApp updates start coming in, the customers are encouraged to come to the farm where a labourer helps them harvest. If you are growing tomatoes and your farm neighbour is growing radishes, you can barter with them.
“I have leased 15 acres of agricultural land in Bannerghatta Road in Bengaluru. Parts of this land are rented to the customers,” explains Sunil, adding, “I have 12 permanent labourers who will oversee the nurturing of the fields. The impact has been so overwhelming that about 30-40 of our clients haven’t stopped renting their farms. We hope that more people start farming for their own needs so the burden of the farmers reduces and we can enjoy organic vegetables that are affordable and guaranteed authentic.”
If you are excited to visit the farm, contact Sunil on 9945508995 or click on this link for their address.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)