Techie ROOTs with a farm ‘will’

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | CATHLINE CHEN
Published Nov 13, 2017, 12:17 am IST
Updated Nov 13, 2017, 12:17 am IST
This IT engineer juggles organic farming with work while spreading the message of clean pesticide-free agriculture.
Pradeep Kumar
 Pradeep Kumar

Often times, we get so stuck in the demands of modern city living that we forget about going back to basics. Activities like gardening, farming, etc are far from our minds, those our forefathers did to bring home sustenance. Pradeep Kumar has worked for the software industry in Bengaluru for 13 years, and he decided to break away from just work. Today, he has gone back to his roots — farming.

Every Saturday morning, Pradeep and his wife Mangai travel to Karur, almost 300 km from Bengaluru where they work on their organic farm. Sometimes, they head out even on a Friday night, when there are many chores to be done on the farm. The couple spend their weekends at the farm, away from the hustle-bustle of the city life.

 

“I come from an agricultural family. My grandfather was a farmer, though not my father and I graduated as an IT engineer,” he says.

But, later Pradeep realised that “It doesn’t matter how much money we earn, I realised that day by day, we are becoming poorer when it comes to the availability of good quality organic food. Farming was in my blood, and I developed this strong urge to make healthy food accessible to my family and friends. I decided to go back to my roots and start farming in May 2015 on our ancestral farmland in Karur district of Tamil Nadu.”

This land that Pradeep started working on, was once a lush beautiful farm, and had due to years of neglect turned into a barren land. So, Pradeep wanted to restore it back and while he started in earnest, things didn’t go smoothly in the beginning.

Pradeep recalls, “My parents were supportive but we faced a lot of challenges when I returned to the village to start farming. The entire village forgot traditional farming, and was deep in the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. To them, organic natural farming was next to impossible, and a waste of time and money.

During 2015, we had a bumper harvest of all crops we cultivated the first year. We broke major misconceptions about organic farming, about quantity and quality.  My wife was very supportive from the beginning. Without her, all my dreams wouldn’t have become reality.”

Working on solutions is a deep seated passion for Pradeep. He also came up with an internship programme where agro students or people interested in organic farming are welcome to join in the work. Pradeep says, “The interns stay at the farm, learn, practice, document organic farming’s best practices and help us with our day-to-day farm operations. A win-win for both farmers and the interns.”

But, juggling a job and maintaining an organic farm can be stressful. Pradeep says, “I love what I do. I work in technologies I am passionate about, and it is similar to farming. This passion is driving me to excel in both work and farming without much mental tiredness.”





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