Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, New Resolutions & New challenges

As we were ending 2013 & looking at 2014 it's been disturbing to get calls from 2 of my ex-team members! Both calling for same reason "Madhu, have been given notice, Jan 31st is the last day"! Both have engineering degrees both have work experience(?) and both are not getting any jobs in the current market. Reasons may be plenty about why a person is not employable,why in current job market updating ourselves is so important and so on. But interestingly both had couple more thing in common! Both weren't in touch with me for last one year, assuming that as usual I am traveling and both didn't know I had switched over to farming for last one year!

As everybody does while giving advise(ಮೂಗಿನ ನೇರಕ್ಕೆ ಮಾತನಾಡುವುದು), I told them agriculture is the best bet and "if you are worried about job why don't you go back to your villages and take care of the farms you have(both are from farming families)"! Both are newly married with children and were surprised at my advise to move out of Bangalore ! Both gave me reasons about their financial situation, what their family members will think if they go back to farming after studied engineering(!!!) and so on..

This made me think why is it that we are ready to stick to a job without knowing how long it'll last but not ready to take up something which has everlasting demand(more than investing in real estate & schools) and give a secure feeling! I understand that standard of living (w.r.t the western world's yardstick) will come down, I know for fact there'll be some cash crunch situation as in any other business. But was not able to understand why is working in a farm/doing any business is considered lower in social status than working for someone else to earn a salary(is a big deal). How come working for someone else is more secure than working for ourselves!

Moreover, after going through some stuff from Sarvagna vachana's was surprised to see we are proving even Sarvagna wrong :-) Check out this vachana!

ಕೋಟಿ ವಿದ್ಯೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಮೇಟಿ ವಿದ್ಯೆಯೆ ಮೇಲು
ಮೇಟಿಯಿಂ ರಾಟೆ ನಡೆದುದಲ್ಲದೆ ದೇಶ
ದಾಟವೇ ಕೆಡಕು ಸರ್ವಜ್ನ

Sarvagna has been candid in explaining why Agriculture is the best education & how a nation could be in trouble if it neglect farming(not farmers! we don't need any subsidy for that matter)

And Check this out!

ಬೆಕ್ಕು ಮನೆಯೊಳಗೆ ಲೇಸು, ಮುಕ್ಕು ಕಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಲೇಸು
ನಕ್ಕು ನಗಿಸುವಾ ನುಡಿ ಲೇಸು, ಊರಿಂಗೆ
ಓಕ್ಕಲಿಗ ಲೇಸು ಸರ್ವಜ್ನ

Coming back to Swathi Farms, 2013 ended with around 150 plus new fruit plant being added. We are planning few more in the coming days as we have decided to go along with our plan, building a multi-crop farm based on fruits, veggies, spices & few medicinal plants. It's been inspiring to know farmers who are silently doing their bit not getting any appreciation from people who consume or want to consume healthy food. This year focus will be to maintain all the plants as much as possible and plant more & more variety during monsoon. Have been checking to see If I can get a helper on continuous basis as well. Though it'll cost good 50K need to take initial costs overruns to design the farm per our liking. Focus also would be on growing more and more veggies to reduce outside consumption!

That's all for now will keep you all posted! Have a wonderful year ahead!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Transition from Weekend Warrior to a Full time farmer!

On Jan'13, I decided to call it quits to IT and moved full time to farming! We urgently renovated 1 room we had in our farm to add a kitchen and moved in on Feb 20 of 2013! It was quite a decision and wasn't aware what's in store didn't know much about farming as well :-) But once we moved in and started staying here we started picking up many new things. Apart from self learning visits to some of the progressive farmers across Mysore was also very helpful in deciding what way we must proceed to avoid major pitfalls in agriculture. 
After few visits to other farms, reading few books and extensive use of internet we decided to go into natural/organic farming. Decided multi-crop is the only way to avoid/reduce pests & diseases in the long run. Sustainable farming is the only way to avoid price crashes of cash crops and trap from middlemen!

On this journey, I remembered a conversation I had with my dad while working in IT. I had to switch from Mainframes which was my bread & butter to .Net technology which I didn't know abcd of! But I was already in US on the project and there was no way to go back ! I called up my dad and told him that I am into totally new area which I never worked in my entire career and am little tensed about the project. He recalled the following poem from "Someshwara Shataka" and I felt little relieved after his advise! I did follow his advise and successfully delivered the project :-) Have a look at the wise word of Someshwara Shataka!

ಕೆಲವಂ ಬಲ್ಲವರಿಂದ ಕಲ್ತು ಕೆಲವಂ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಂಗಳಂ ಕೇಳುತಂ |
ಕೆಲವಂ ಮಾಳ್ಪವರಿಂದ ಕಂಡು ಕೆಲವಂ ಸುಜ್ಞಾನದಿಂ ನೋಡುತಂ ||

ಕೆಲವಂ ಸಜ್ಜನಸಂಗದಿಂದಲರಿಯಲ್ ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞನಪ್ಪಂ ನರಂ |
ಪಲವುಂ ಪಳ್ಳ ಸಮುದ್ರವೈ ಹರಹರಾ ಶ್ರೀ ಚೆನ್ನ ಸೋಮೇಶ್ವರಾ ||೧||

Translation of the above poem: We need to learn new stuff, 1. from persons who are aware of the subject, 2. Some watching while people working on it, 3. Some by analyzing with our wisdom and 4. some with the friendship/teamwork with good people and then we become "Sarvagna" like small streams makeup sea!

Now, we are following the same principles to learn from various sources and learning new stuff each day. One major change in our approach is we are not looking at the yield from each plant instead we now feel with nature's help plants produce what ever they can produce with available resources. We have decided to reduce the labor dependency and try doing ourselves most of the day to day activities. 

Over the year we have added many new variety of plants some of them are rare and are on the verge of extinction. Yes, we are aware of the fact that there'll be a slack time between the time Banana is done and the rest of the plant start yielding but we have accepted the situation and decided come what may we are sticking to organic farming and not to worry about income we generate from the farm. 

There have been varied(sometimes funny) comments/suggestions about our decision to get into full time farming. One being somebody suggested agriculture should be a hobby not a profession. Yes, when we don't know from where our food is coming it's easy to say all this. But once you realize the growing challenges of population and food shortage, we feel it's time everybody do their bit to produce more food.Yes it's not as attractive as our other "high yielding" careers. But we feel this a much better field to make our little contribution and live a simple life reducing the burden and stress due to expectations. I am not getting excite anymore with iPhone 5S or a new iPad may because I don't feel it's useful anymore or may be because, I can't afford one with a farmers income! But overall stepping back in time with each day is making us more secure than what we were with each Increment/promotion in IT :-)

As a whole it's been relatively a good year of learning, building and cherishing the hard physical work after sitting in AC rooms for so long! Also it's been humbling experience to see so called "uneducated" farmers can talk authoritatively on so many crops//processes/pests/seasons/diseases/rain falls/soil structures/nature/eco system and we "educated" have guts to label them as "uneducated" because they haven't attended a formal schools!

Bye for now and will post new updates and some photographs in later posts ! Hopefully will keep this a regular activity!