How often do you encounter someone who has the fortitude to give up a excessive-paying corporate task to make a difference to the livelihood of farmers? Well, now not each day.Venkat Iyer changed into leading a at ease life in Mumbai. He turned into at the peak of his career in his function as Project Manager at International Business Machines (IBM) when he resigned from his position.
“I became usually willing closer to agriculture as a profession. However, the country of the enterprise in India has been grim. Though it is taken into consideration a mainstay in the united states of America, many farmers are recognized to have offered their land and moved directly to turn out to be day by day wage workers because of negative income. Hence, I decided to do my bit to help these farmers enhance their earnings and reap the benefits they deserve,” Venkat Iyer tells YourStory.
In 2003, Venkat left Mumbai and went to Peth, a village in Palghar district of Maharashtra. Venkat wanted to research farming earlier than commencing to help other farmers. For this, he commenced studying books approximately natural farming and studying farming techniques from the Internet. Through his spouse Meena Menon, a journalist and author, he also got acquainted with the blessings of organic farming and made up his mind to exercise it.
A few months later, he bought a appropriate piece of land spanning four-and-a-1/2-acres from his savings. After mission a first-rate deal of research, he started out tilling the soil and planting rice, pulses, spices, as well as some seasonal vegetables. Though he needed to placed up with disasters like spoilage and loss of crop first of all, he never gave up.
After wearing out natural farming for 5 years, he won the confidence to educate different farmers in the close by district of Vikramgad. He commenced training 4 adivasi farmers, and now the wide variety stands at 70. Not simplest did Venkat educate them the techniques of natural farming, but also devised advertising channels and selling points for their produce. Today, a majority of these farmers aren’t handiest attending to earn greater however also are producing more with limited sources.
An inspiring journey
Venkat become very excited to grow his own food after shifting to Peth. Since many farmers inside the region have been developing moong (green lentils), Venkat determined to follow their footsteps. He made a short experience to Surat in Gujarat to shop for seeds seeing that he heard from oldsters in the neighbourhood the town had the quality quality of seeds.
Very quickly, he become on the sphere tilling, sowing, watering, and weeding. A few days later, he became status inside the middle of moong vegetation with inexperienced pods handing from them.
“It became one of the most ecstatic emotions ever. It were five months considering the fact that I cease my task, but I felt the transition changed into growing fruitful,” Venkat quips.
At the cease of the harvest, Venkat had grown 300 kilograms of moong. Even after distributing it to his buddies, he was left with a big amount of the heartbeat. Hence, he started out promoting the produce to retail shops in Mumbai. The market for organic items was nevertheless very nascent and maximum of the providers have been no longer inclined to pay him extra than Rs 16 in step with kilogram. Astonishingly, the equal moong was bought at Rs 30 and above inside the market.
“I did no longer have a preference but to finalise the deal with shops. From then on, I tried promoting thru numerous channels of distribution – from specialised organic outlets like Navdanya and Green Current, to local companies in Mumbai. Alas, I in no way were given a truthful rate for my produce. That changed into when I realised the sort of hardship the farmers go through in India. Though the cost of labour, equipment, and different resources is borne by using farmers, majority of the profits are pocketed with the aid of the traders and middlemen who actually p.C. The material and promote them to city dwellers,” Venkat explains.
Five years later, Venkat turned into growing many more forms of vegetation like rice, toor dal (pigeon peas), sesame seeds, groundnuts, mustard, basil leaves, bitter gourd, tomato, pumpkin, and female’s finger.
In 2009, Venkat commenced Hari Bhari Tokri, a assignment to establish marketing channels for farmers. Also, with the help of some buddies and Dr ML Dhawale Memorial Trust, (a charitable enterprise running inside the healthcare area), he formed the Mumbai Organic Farmers and Consumers Association (MOFCA). The goal of the association changed into to offer a voice to the rural area and permit them to interrupt far from the shackles of middlemen.
“Despite toiling day and night time, maximum of the famers within the vicinity were residing in abject conditions. My urge to paintings for his or her welfare had accelerated through the years. I desired to do some thing to make their lives higher. I were given into education 4 adivasi farmers in organic farming techniques. Besides that, I began supporting them to promote their produce for an awesome fee,” says Venkat.
Venkat partnered with companies and clients at the condition that the price of vegetables and pulses be determined by means of the farmers. For example, if the farmer wants to sell bitter gourd at Rs 30 in keeping with kilogram, the vendor could pay the equal to the farmer after which add the value of coping with, shipping as well as the percentage of profit before promoting it to the client. When it comes to transport of the harvested fabric to clients in Mumbai, MOFCA together with Hari Bhari Tokri provided for the necessary logistics in this kind of manner that the price of it turned into transferred to the client.