Akash Chaurasia, a 32-year-old from Madhya Pradesh, grew up nurturing the dream of becoming a doctor.
However, through his growing up years in a farming family, it dawned on him that people often fell ill because of the food they ate.
Thus, to deal with the root of the problem, he says he decided to farm organically.
In 2014, he came up with the idea of planting multiple crops on the same piece of land.
He started with two layers of crops, one underground and the other on the surface. His first crops were tomatoes and bitter gourd, and he experimented with other combinations as well.
Akash soon ran into his first challenge — grass and weeds. To combat this, he introduced leafy crops like the ones to be planted on the surface — spinach, coriander, fenugreek and others.
By planting leafy crops, which grow fast, there’s automatically less space for grass. “Within this model, the grass is about 80 per cent controlled.”
His next challenge was a lack of space. And so, his multilayer model also relies on vertical space.
At the height of 6.5 feet, he built a structure out of bamboo and put a jaali on top, so the structure was partly exposed to sunlight and partly shaded.On this, he grew creepers, introducing a third crop to the space.
There’s also a fourth crop, which includes seasonal fruit trees like mango, papaya, or sapota (chikoo), the tallest component of the multilayer farm.
This model saves 80 per cent water and allows the farmers to earn a parallel income from each crop. Akash himself has an annual income of Rs 30 lakh, he shares.
Besides educating people in person, Akash also has a YouTube channel through which he spreads awareness about his work.
“From readying the bed to preparing medicine, all the way till cultivation, I make farmers do all the processes by hand and teach them,” he says.
Today, he has given practical training to about 80,000 farmers and educated around 12 lakh others about multilayer farming.