BENGALURU: Over the last one year of the pandemic, Giridhara M has been spending increasing amount of time on his farmland near Madakasira, a two-hour drive from Bengaluru. So much so that the 49-year-old is now contemplating building a house there. The Covid-19 crisis has changed the work culture drastically. While it gave rise to a widespread work from home culture, Bengalureans have gone a step further and are turning it into a work from farmland concept.
“I feel a lot of people will now go away from cities and get to rural areas to work,” says Giridhara who works for an MNC that provides digital transformation services. In the pre-pandemic days, he and his team headed to resorts to discuss new initiatives with his colleagues. “But farmlands are a better option now because it is in harmony with nature. We buy the land and have common facilities with other land owners and there is little interference,” he says.
Besides using farmlands for working, some are also finding time for online classes. John Rathinam, who owns a land in Chelivandala village, which is a two-hour drive from Bengaluru airport, says, “My daughter loves attending online classes from the cottage. Her learning ability and focus has actually improved. Since we are surrounded by different species of birds and plants, this itself becomes an educational ecosystem for the child.”
Nitish Varma, an entrepreneur camped in his farmland in Cholemarri village near the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border with his friends for a week. “Living with the sound of nature is a different experience altogether. The maintenance cost is very minimal unlike other clubs or hotels in the city,” he says.
While it may seem like the grass is greener on the farmlands, Deepu Kumar, who runs a tech company in the city and owns a farmhouse in Tumkur, throws light on the downside. “Power outage in rural districts becomes a big disadvantage to people who want to work from rural areas. I have installed power boosters to enhance the internet speed. Internet connectivity will also be disrupted when cables get damaged due to heavy rains,” he says.
According to Hosachiguru, an agriculture asset management startup, landowners are spending more time on their farmlands and working from the cottages. They claim that customers prefer to stay connected to nature. Srinath Setty, one of the directors of Hosachiguru, says, “People now want to sync their lives with nature. There are a lot of green enthusiasts out there who choose to work from farmlands as the green spaces give them peace and enhances productivity. The trend has been increasing especially after the Covid-19 crisis.” The prices, according to Setty, range between ` 10-20 lakh for one-fourth acre, depending on the distance from the main road.
BeForest, which owns farming collectives in Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru, has also been getting more queries about digital infrastructure setups in farmlands. Sunith Reddy, chief eco officer, says, “People are considering this as an alternative to work from home as people are looking for a healthier way of life. To facilitate their shift, we have been working with local internet service providers to set up dedicated infrastructure on the collectives.”