Whether it’s organic farming, livestock rearing or dairy farming, these people quit their comfortable, high paying jobs to go back to their roots and take up farming.
Many dream of quitting their jobs or taking a sabbatical to find a new calling, see the world, indulge in art or pass time with nature. To some, the practice of farming involves all of those and more. The smell of Earth, the moo of cows, the open skies, the excitement of the first rain, the delight in the first sprout – there lies a simple joy in farming. Here are a few stories of people who took the plunge and never regretted it:
The Milk Farming Collective that’s Not Amul
In Bengaluru, Shashi Kumar, Ranjith Mukundan, Venkatesh Sesasaye and Praveen Nale, all employed as software engineers, decided to quit their jobs in 2011. They teamed up with a group of dairy farming enthusiasts to form the Akshayakalpa Farms and Food Ltd, headed by G N S Reddy. At this farm, located in Hassan in Karnataka, the health of cows is of primary concern. Their health is electronically monitored daily, along with the milk production capability. Besides this, about 500 farmers have employment with a sure-shot chance of getting monetarily rewarded. The farm sells 4000 litres of milk daily, and has expanded to a farm in Mysore.
The Sabbatical that Got Them Closer to Nature
Slogging it out in the IT industry for nearly a decade had burnt out Santosh Singh. While he went on a sabbatical for two years, his brothers Rajesh and Sathish joined him. On their three-acre ancestral land in Haalenahalli, about 40 kilometres from Bengaluru, they set up Amrutha Dairy Farms with just three cows. In a short time, the farm expanded to accommodate 100 cows, backed by NABARD. Even though there was a drought that led to lower milk production, they stayed. Soon, they started rearing heifer (cows that haven’t borne calves) and launched the production of paneer and cheese in 2014.
Organic Farming for Healthier Living
Mumbai-based Sabita Rajendran and Julius Rego are part of a new breed of urban farmers who have taken up growing organic food as their true calling. In 2011, Rajendran quit her job in advertising, while Rego moved out of furniture dealership. Their need to avoid eating pesticide-laden food and chemically soiled water inspired them to start Green Souls in 2012, with an initial investment of just Rs 20,000. Along with vegetables and fruits, they also cultivate medicinal herbs and flowering plants, which they donate to the Tata Memorial Hospital.
Leading by Example
Instead of being an armchair critic and sympathiser, Anand from Mysore gave up his position as a software engineer and set up a farm where he practices organic farming. Besides his passion for all things green and healthy, he also felt deeply about making farmers live sustainably through farming. He purchased six acres of land in Shadanahalli, Mysore, and started organic farming. He then created various groups for farmers, and invited them to explore how and why it would be feasible to take up organic farming. Helping not just himself but also a large collective of organic farmers, he tries to open the market up to organic products.
The Tree Farming Couple
Gaurav and Nikki Chaudhary realised that they earned more money and peace of mind through agroforestry than they would have in their corporate jobs. Gaurav is an economics post-graduate from Delhi School of Economics, and Nikki studied business economics from London. They were inspired by Gaurav’s father, Chaudhary Veerpal Singh, a farmer who toiled the Earth for many years to give his son an education. Gaurav, who had thought of going back to farming when he was in high school, raises poplar, eucalyptus and other plantations with his wife in Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh. They also run the Progressive Dairy Farmers Association. Nikki recently got appreciated by the World Congress on Agroforestry for her blog post that detailed their journey. They believe that farming needs intelligence and professionalism to get successful.
The Cattle Farmer
T. Arumugam from Chennai worked with an NGO and was the first graduate in his family with five siblings. When he decided to get into the agriculture sector, everyone in his family had major misgivings, except his mother. To prove that he could make good out of it, he took up studying and attending training programmes first. He learnt the ropes from workshops and short courses provided by the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU). According to him, Indian youth should go back to farming, being a largely agrarian economy. That’s what drove him to take up rearing livestock and wheat farming.