KOCHI: The decline in the quality of vegetables and fruits available in the market prompted many to go organic. The sudden demand for organic veggies saw many utilising whatever space available at their homes for farming.
Bhagyaraj Balasunder’s case was no different. A native of Cherthala, he quit his job as a quality tester at an MNC four years ago to pursue organic farming on 80 cents of leased land.
“I was down with food poisoning in Pune. So, I came back home and decided to quit the job. I was concerned about the quality of the vegetables we use in Pune. The situation in Kerala was no different. The chemical content was too high,” says Bhagyaraj.
Though his family supported his decision, many weren’t convinced. “Farming wasn’t a lucrative option then. People were amused to see me quit my job for farming,” he adds.
Criticisms only made his stronger and he started with spinach leaves, green chilli and pumpkin. Today, he cultivates 12-acre land, of which he owns around 2 acres. There is everything here, except for a few vegetables like carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot and coriander leaves. “Last four years of my life was fully dedicated to this,” he adds.
Bhagyaraj is happy that people have recognised his efforts and are advocating for chemical-free vegetables. His mentor is Sujith S P, who won the state award for the best farmer. Bhagyaraj has also opened a shop at Cherthala which provides organic vegetables.
Now, he earns nearly a lakh per month from farming. “More than the money, it gives a lot of satisfaction. If we supply good quality products to people, the price will never be a problem for them.”
He plans to start organic farming in Kochi city too. “Availability of land is an issue. If everything goes well, our next stop will be Kochi.”