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At a time when farmers are killing themselves in 1000’s each year a young, educated group of men and women are jumping into farming. This young group have quit their corporate jobs and city life and turned farmers. Their farming venture Nalla Keerai has bought organic farming methods to local villages and their farmers.
Nalla Keerai includes a group of unlikely agriculturalists — R. Jagannathan, formerly a business manager with a city-based firm, Gowtham Balaji, a former financial analyst with an MNC who now handles marketing for Nalla Keerai, Venkatraman, a software architect who splits his time between agriculture and software, Viswanathan, an engineer with a car firm, Punitha, a professor at Pondicherry University; Shyam, a management consultant, Dr. Salome Yesudas, who has worked with Sustainable Food and Agricultural Systems, agricultural consultant Radhakrishnan, Rajamurugan, researching on South Indian traditional foods, Thirumalai, who studied at IIT Madras, Arivarasan, who is also a programme director with Swabhiman Bharat, which is giving science education to children in villages, and Raghuvaran, a gold medallist in M.A. Economics.
Photo: Siva, Arivarasan, Ramu & Gowtham
Nalla Keerai was an idea born when Jagannathan conducted a survey in his native village Melappedu, near Thirunindravur. “I found that the 240 farmer households in this village actually spent about Rs. 40 lakh a year in buying pesticides and fertilizers,” he says, and points out, “If this money is retained and rotated within the farm, farmers would be making bigger profits, and agriculture would actually be an attractive proposition.”
They experimented with various fresh produce and finally decided to grow green. Spinach has a short cultivation cycle and helped the farmer sustain in the initial stages when land is transformed from being nurtured with synthetic fertilisers to only organic manures. They have now helped farmers to improve productivity- A farmer with an acre of land can grow up to 40000 bunches of spinach in a short period. They are now growing more than 20 varieties of spinach.
The Nalla Keerai team brought their corporate marketing and sales skills to farming. The group had also ensured that the farmer gets maximum profit out of the venture by developing a local-production-local-consumption model, where most of the produce is sold within a particular area to avoid middlemen.
There are doing a weekly door delivery to high rises and house in the Ambathur area in Chennai. They have close to 700 customers in the Ambathur area now.
The idea is to expand to a 300 acre area and employ at least 3000 farmers. “But the most important motive is to propagate this idea of organic farming with a sustainable revenue model for farmers,” says Gautam.
Nalla Keerai team organises farm visits and workshops teach their methods of farming.
Follow them on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nalla-Keerai-Good-Greens/255758741154355.
You can contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org or call them on 9962611767.