Express news service
RANCHI: Rakesh Mahanty, a 30-year-old engineering graduate, quit his high paying job to engage in community farming and has helped more than 80 farmers associated with him in Patamda block of Jamshedpur to double their income.
According to Mahanty, if you want to make things better, he has to become a role model, create an example, and then people will automatically start following him. Therefore, he prepared a model farm with the support of 5 farmers who were already working with him alone on a small plot of land, then things got better and people started to adopt the concept automatically. Today, more than 80 farmers are attached to it and derive good profit from it.
Earlier in 2017, Mahanty launched her social enterprise, “Brook N Bees,” which primarily works on the concept of community farming and has collaborated with local farmers to grow organic crops. Rakesh and other farmers share land, resources, knowledge, equipment, labor and machinery, against which the farmers with their own land receive a percentage of profit while the landless
receive a salary of Rs 6000 every month.
On top of that, farmers don’t have to worry about selling their produce or spending money to transport it to market.
Recalling his journey from technocrat to farmer, Mahanty said that after completing B. Tech from BIT Bangalore in 2012, he got an internship at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). But, over time, he realized that he was not cut out for the 9-5 job and wanted to do something on the ground if rural development for his own people in his village.
After four years he quit his job and joined the management program with XLRI, Jamshedpur. As he was very keen on innovating in agriculture, he continued to regularly visit his fields in Jamshedpur while pursuing his MBA program and planning his future.
“During my MBA studies, I developed an interest in agriculture and wanted to convert agriculture into industry, but over time; I found that there were several difficult challenges to overcome. To deal with these issues, I traveled extensively all over India and met farmers to understand
the way they cultivated and the problems they faced, ”Mahanty said. “Finally, I concluded that local problems should be dealt with locally and brought a concept of ‘sustainable ecological agriculture’ under which problems are solved by looking at three aspects: environmental, social and economic. According to this concept, things are contextually designed according to the demands of the local community, he added.
Later, Mahanty observed that a market for his products was needed in his environment and, therefore, started another initiative called “Agricultural Participation Project” in which workshops were held in the fields of the farm for residents of urban areas where they get to know the local food. system, how food products are produced, agro-ecology, on the livelihoods of farmers.
“It was just to bridge the gap between people living in urban and rural areas so that they get to know each other. The idea is to promote the local food system among the people living nearby, ”said Mahanty.
Meanwhile, “Farmer’s Haat” was also launched in which stalls were set up in water companies to make its organic products available to consumers at their doorstep and create a habit among them of them. consume, he added.
In addition to farming, they also plant young fruit trees, non-timber forest products, timber, medicinal plants as part of long-term planning that would also contribute to ecological restoration of the land.
“At present, around 200 farmers are connected to me all over the country, while around 80 farmers are attached to me in Patamda block. I also provide them with advice as and when the needs of farmers from all over India, ”Mahanty said.
Basically it is a community farm where some people work on their own land while others also work as employees, he added.
Mahanty said those who have their own land receive a percentage of their produce while those without land receive a salary of Rs 6000 each month. All decisions are taken collectively by all 80 farmers, he said.
Four varieties of rice, food crops, non-leafy leafy vegetables, millets and various other things are produced by them.
Local officials said Mahanty has become something of a role model among local farmers who has been an inspiration to many people in the area.
“Being an educated farmer, he had a great impact on others as he is a motivation for many other young people in the area. He practices high-tech organic farming and markets his products in his own way, ”said Mithlesh Kumar Kalindi, district horticulture manager. Watching it, people began to cultivate high-value crops and reap the benefits, he added.
Kalindi said Mahanty also runs a farmer’s school where farmers receive free training in organic and modern farming techniques. They also send farmers who want to undergo integrated farming training, he added.
Local farmer Pawan Singh Sardar, who previously relied on forest reserves, said the regular income had significantly improved his financial situation.