Born into an agricultural family, Divakar Channappa’s father never wanted him to pursue a career in farming, given the rising agricultural losses.

So Divakar pursued a career in social work and became a visiting faculty at Tumkuru University. In 2008, he worked as a project scientist with ISRO in Bengaluru.

He remained completely disconnected from his farming roots until 2009 when his father suffered a stroke that left him paralysed. That is when he moved back to his village Begur in Karnataka.

“During the same time, I happened to read a book called ‘One Straw Revolution’ by a Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka. After reading the book, I gathered the courage to go to the farm that my father kept hidden from us,” he says.

Against his father’s wishes, Diwakar decided to start farming and turned to cultivating dates — a crop grown in the hot desert of countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.

“It is a misconception that one could grow dates only in desert conditions. All that a date tree needs is a lot of moisture and ample sunlight,” he shares.

“My decision to grow dates without desert conditions invited a lot of questions. People laughed at me and asked if I intended to create a desert on my farm. I was also called a fool,” he recalls.

Divakar had no answers to them until four and a half years when he saw the first flowering; his joy knew no bounds.

Initially, he was able to extract 800 kg of dates from his 2.5-acre farm. Today, he gets up to five tonnes of produce and generates Rs 6 lakh in an acre of date farm.

For Divakar, the journey to switch to farming was never an easy choice. “Switching from a job at ISRO, teaching at a university, and living in a city like Bangalore to suddenly becoming a farmer in a village didn’t make sense financially,” he shares.

“For me, inner peace was more important than monetary terms. I am grateful to lead a slow and simple life,” he adds.