It is very common for people in India to go to western countries, especially the US, in search of good jobs. But how often does someone who has spent over seven years in the US return to India to start a career as an organic farmer? Bhagath Kumar Neerudu has done his masters in business administration in the US and has worked as a computer professional with reputed clients. But he has now returned home to a career that isn’t in demand and has little competition among educated professionals.
When he first mentioned the idea of becoming a farmer to his friends, they mocked him and called him a lunatic. But Neerudu did not despair and discussed the idea with his family, who were obviously surprised but did not dissuade him. Soon he moved back to India and spent time researching various methods of farming, visited various places, met numerous people, most of whom discouraged him. In a country like India, farming is, unfortunately, not considered a respectable profession. Telangana sees a high rate of farmer suicides and farmers across the country are facing difficulty and fighting for their existence. Neerudu knew that the road to his dream wasn’t easy.
He finally decided to go the greenhouse way, known as polyhouse farming, on his ancestral one acre of land in the village of Kalivemule, Kandi, Telangana. He started his journey as an organic farmer with the little money that he had saved up from his life in the US and with the help of his family. He spent months going around the government offices for approvals related to electricity, water, etc. Though he got all the required approvals, he started getting calls from unknown people trying to blackmail him about petty things, threatening him with consequences. Even a local journalist from a reputed media house called him and tried to fleece him for no reason.
Neerudu already knew that he was going the organic way of farming though lot of people dissuaded him as the yield would be less which means lesser profits, he knew how important it is to have organic food and how dangerous non-organic food can be for human beings, though the real need and value of organic food is less known in India as compared to western countries.
His maiden crop was cucumber, which he picked because of its high vitamin values and with summer fast approaching in India. He started harvesting his English cucumbers which were over-zealously bought by one of the biggest e-commerce grocery stores, and now he is ready to harvest over 12,000 kilos of it in the next few weeks. His second crop of coriander as an additional crop was successful and was paid for handsomely by the buyer.
Neerudu doesn’t want to limit himself as a farmer, he also wants to promote farming, he is ready to help anyone who is interested in kick-starting a farming career, and wants to prove to the farming community in India that farming can be profitable. He believes that children in school should be taught practical lessons on farming and that the course curriculum should be revised. He is willing to voluntarily take farming lessons to the kids in school if he gets an invite for guest lectures.
Santosh Addagulla is an activist and works on the issues related to Indian farmers. He can be reached on his email [email protected]