Peace, Resilience and Life on the Farm

At a time when most of urban India is being sucked into a fast-paced world of digital technology, Hyderabad-based Anjali Rudraraju and husband Kabir Cariappa are living life the sustainable way – in sync with nature’s cycle .

HYDERABAD: The global food crisis is getting worse. There is a need to produce 50 per cent more food to feed the growing population by the next 40 years.

This may not be possible as the changing climate, that is killing our biodiversity, will cut down the yield by 25 per cent. 

“We need to change the way we grow our food,” urges the World Bank.

And that’s exactly what City-based Anjali Rudraraju and her husband Kabir Cariappa vouch for. The ‘happy famer’ couple, who owns the Yarroway Farm located an hour away from Mysore, will be speaking at the National Permaculture Convergence that begins tomorrow in the city. Just ahead of their talk, the couple speak about how they lead a sustainable  lifestyle and the rising food crisis, in an emotional chat with Hyderabad Express.

Sustainable farming and lifestyle 

Talking about how the idea of sustainable farming is not limited to the way food is grown on the farm, Kabir says, “It is something you need to adopt where you make use of all the energies in the nature. It is about tapping the connection between things and activating the chain and using that chain to grow things.” The couple does not believe in going back in time. “We don’t think that we need to stop using tractors and machines. In today’s labour situation, you have to use everything around you. Technology is as important as it is to be connected with nature and it is all about applying it the right way. You have a tractor, you plough your field, but you don’t overdo it. Don’t do things to hurt the soil but improve it,” he adds.

Anjali explains how they work on the farm. “We generate everything on the farm. The grains we cut, wheat and all the green mass becomes compost. It is all bio dynamic and is generated from the farm itself. We make our seeds, unless it is a new crop because most of the seeds that are available outside are treated.” They try to keep their lifestyle simple while maintaining a balance. “Defintion of sustainability will keep shifting based on what is happening in the environment around us. We don’t want to isolate ourselves, but we want to work with what is available in this day and age and it is not about going back in time. It is about how we can still grow food naturally,” adds Anjali.

About rising food crisis

Kabir’s parents were the first generation to return to farming. He was born on the farm and was also schooled on the farm. “I learnt a lot from the land because I could work with things hands on and see things transform,” he shares. Today, when the world is struggling to deal with a food crisis, he feels that there is a need for the younger generation to step in and understand the way food grows. “If the younger generation doesn’t take over farming and learn how to do things, apply new ways of doing things, then our planet is going to be filled with hungry people pretty soon. There is no question about it,” he says and points to how even rural youth doesn’t want to return to farming. “Even if they belong to an agricultural family, they are driven towards an industrial world. Most of them are ending up as security guards, settling in urban slums, and the crime rate is also on the rise.”

There is no future for natural food, he adds. 

Providing a marketing platform

Anjali too comes from a farming family but her parents decided to move to the city. She eventually left to New York to pursue Masters in Commerce and Strategy. “These subjects can be applied anywhere. I started working for a corporate and it didn’t make sense to me. I saw people talking about organic food and indulging in organic farming and I wondered why we cannot apply the same in India. In fact, it should be all the more natural,” she tells us. While she was still contemplating whether to use her strategic skills and sell organic produce or start from the scratch, she took a course in Biodynamics and started working on a piece of her parents’ land in Medchal, Hyderabad. “I was then called to train farmers. When I was in a tribal belt in Andra Pradesh when I met Kabir. We clicked instantly and we are like soul mates,” she smiles.

They named their farm the Yarroway Farm, after a plant they both love and it now functions as a brand that works on different things. Apart from selling their produce to a small client base, they also train farmers about bio dynamic farming and also work with interns who are passionate about farming. “We want to build an agriculture model that will help small scale farmers around us market their produce, because that is the biggest concern right now. We don’t want to compete with anyone and neither do we want to sit and publicise a product because that will take away our time from the farm and we also need to build a seperate marketing. We like the ‘know your farmer’ concept and we think people should eventually move in that direction than just eat mass produced food that can be easily contaminated,” explains Anjali.

Passing on farm lessons

For this couple being on the farm is “the most natural thing to do”. Working in accordance with nature’s will, they believe that it is not a complex process.  “We all need to know where our food comes from and also learn about what is happening to our food. Industrial farms are all good, but if you are only growing corn, where is the nutrition? Certain kinds of foods are coming, certain foods are vanishing? Why? That is the awareness we all need to develop,” opines Kabir, adding that nothing is bad for the earth, but is only bad for us, the people.

There is no one lesson or method to adopt a sustainable lifestyle they say. Once we understand the problem, “What you want to do about it, is up to you,” shrugs Kabir. “If you have all your senses active, you will do a lot of things in the simplest way,” he says.

Sustainable living is not about growing your own food. It is how you apply a philosophy all through your life. You don’t have to have a farm and spend time on it. You can source good food if you are in a different stream of life.

In today’s day and age, nobody can go 100 per cent organic. How much can we can bring into our lives, so that our lifestyle stays healthy. We should try and source from local farmers for the sake of health and environment.

There is no alternative to natural food. Mass produced artificial food could be contaminated and can be produced whenever. If the we continue, there will be a lot of hungry people on this planet and that is the global food crisis  

Ours is primarily an agricultural country, only one or two generations away from the land. So, we all have some inherent knowledge of land and nature. Rest is all common sense and how you apply things 

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