An IT engineer at Cognizant Technologies, Bengaluru, Mahesh works for his company from Monday to Friday and works for his village over the weekend.
Every Friday night, this software engineer travels more than 600 km from Bengaluru to reach his village Kawlaga [K] in Kalaburagi (Gulbarga) district of Karnataka and become a farmer until Sunday night. And he blames The Better India for this!
Mahesh came across The Better India a year and a half ago, and has since been a regular reader. He doesn’t even remember how many stories he has read so far! But he clearly remembers a few that changed his life.
“I always wanted to do farming, but did not have the courage to change the routine life I was living. But the stories on The Better India, especially the ones in which people have left their jobs to do natural farming were the trigger for my decision,” says Mahesh.
Mahesh was born in a farmer’s family in the small village of Kawlaga [K]. His father and grandfather faced so many hardships being farmers that they never wanted their children to become farmers. So Mahesh was always kept away from the fields and was encouraged to study.
After his primary education, Mahesh shifted to Gulbarga for further education. He completed his B.Tech in IT engineering from P.D.A College of Engineering, Kalaburagi, in 2007 and got placed in a software company.
“My parents and relatives and most of my friends were very happy with my job. But my heart remained in farming. Moreover, whenever I would come back to my village, there were youngsters who kept asking me if I can find a job for them in the city. They were ready to leave their village for a job of Rs.8,000 to Rs.9,000. The youth were getting prone to addiction and the women were suffering. Everyone wanted to just run away from the situation,” says Mahesh
“On the other hand, in big cities like Bengaluru a person is born in an ICU and ends up in an ICU to die. We are focusing on building more hospitals and inventing more medicines to handle this situation and we call it development. But we need to focus on the root cause, which is soil. The chemical fertilizers and pesticides have made our soil poisonous and we are eating poisonous food grown from this soil. It’s time to fix this,” he adds.
Mahesh truly wanted to get back to natural farming to ensure healthy food for common citizens and to generate employment in his village to stop migration. He wanted to encourage young generation to do natural farming instead of searching job in cities with less salary.
However, he had seen this vicious cycle that a farmer gets trapped in. According to Mahesh, a farmer is always at a loss, regardless of whether nature is on his side or not. If it is drought then the prices of products are high, but the yield is so low that the farmer ends up earning less than what is invested.
Ironically, if the weather conditions are favorable, the production is so high that the rates are lowered. Farmers cannot even store the yield and wait for the prices to go high due to lack of access to warehouses. On top of that is the repayment of loans to moneylenders on huge interest rates.
This cycle repeats, until the farmer ultimately loses his land.
“I realized that the only way out of this horrible cycle was to have surplus money so that we can hold our yield until we get the proper rates, to own infrastructure like cowsheds and warehouses, and to do direct marketing of our produce after value addition,” explains Mahesh.
He then decided to continue with his job until he gathered the resources. He also considered leasing out his 40-acre ancestral land for farming. However, he soon realized that that could make the soil even more poisonous as he had no control over the amount of fertilizers or pesticides used.
Mahesh was not sure how he would carry on with his mission, when one fine day he came across the stories on The Better India.
“There were stories of farmers who switched to natural farming. There were success stories of villages which became self sustainable. And then I came across stories of successful professionals who left their job and switched to farming,” says Mahesh.
One such story was of Vinoth Kumar, an engineer with an MBA degree, who gave up his comfortable job and city life to become a full-time organic farmer. After reading his story, Mahesh realized that he had to take a huge step and start farming.
Mahesh started farming in April 2016 on the day of Ugadi. But he did not leave his job. He was sure that he needed the money if anything went wrong. He also wanted to be ready with the infrastructural needs of farming like a pond, warehouse and cowshed.
Mahesh decided to do totally natural and organic farming. As all other farmers who owned the adjacent farms were using chemical pesticides, Mahesh’s farm was naturally attacked by pests. This was a challenge, which again was taken up by Mahesh with organic pesticides and attracting birds by throwing grain on his farms.
Stories of Avantika and Mrityunjay, Solar Suresh, Banker-turned-farmer, Sankalp Sharma, journalist-turned-farmer, Girindranath Jha and many more kept motivating Mahesh. He contacted these unsung heroes through the contact details mentioned on TBI and got guidance from them to move ahead with his mission.
Bet you’re wondering how Mahesh is doing all this as well as holding a job as a full-time software engineer.
Mahesh travels every Friday night from Bengaluru to his village and works on his farm over the weekend. He then travels back on Sunday night. He has the support of his colleagues and managers.
He also gives credit to Mr.Bailappa who takes care of his farm and all the contractual farmers who work on his farm on the weekdays.
Today, Mahesh has harvested almost 30 different varieties of millets and lentils from indigenous seeds, which are purely organic. He recently received an award for organic/natural farming from the district agriculture department.
He is adding value to his Tur crop by making natural tur dal using the traditional method, and it has got good demand in the market.
“My goal is – poison free soil, poison free food and poison free world, and to have this food reach the common man for a nominal price. And I will do anything to achieve this goal. People think that it is hard for me to travel and work on weekends. But I enjoy doing this,” says Mahesh.
As soon as Mahesh achieves his aim of building good infrastructural support for farming, he is determined to quit his job and take up farming full time. He wishes to make his village chemical free by 2025 with the help of all the villagers and nature lovers.
We hope that just like Mahesh was inspired by the stories on TBI, many more will be inspired by Mahesh’s story. And if you are one of them, let us know!
You can contact Mahesh at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 9739981508 between 9:00 PM to 10:30 PM.