TIRUPATI: The idea of taking up natural farming never crossed Jalagam Shyamsundar's mind until four members of his family, all teetotallers and non-smokers, were diagnosed with cancer. He later learnt that the reason his family members, who were involved in agriculture work, had cancer was because of their regular contact with the chemical pesticides they used in the fields.
Shyamsundar (34), a native of Pudi village near Srikalahasti town, pursued MCA from Malla Reddy Institute of Technology, Hyderabad in 2013. He worked at various IT firms till 2015 and as operations manager at a pharmaceutical company before he quit his job and switched to practising natural farming in 2018.
While he already had 5.5 acres agriculture land that he inherited from his parents, his extended family gave him another 4-5 acres to take up organic farming. Further, he leased 26 acres, taking the total to 36 acres approximately, and began cultivating paddy in 2019.
He has been cultivating various kinds of rice including, Navara (red rice), Kalabati (black rice), Kuji Patalia, Chintaluri Sannalu, Mysore Mallige rice, Ratna Chodi and Kichili Samba at his farm.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, the techie-turned-organic farmer said, "I was surprised to learn that four elders in my family were diagnosed with cancer. They never consumed alcohol or tobacco. When I realised that it was the pesticides that they directly inhaled while spraying in the fields which affected their lungs, I decided to take up organic farming."
Techie's produce in good demand
He further added, "We consume 100 gm rice and at least 30 gm oil daily on an average. So, I started cultivating various indigenous rice varieties and groundnut using natural methods."
Stating that around 10-15 bags of rice, each weighing 50 kilograms, is cultivated in one acre, Shyamsundar said, while he incurs Rs 20,000-25,000 as production cost, he makes around Rs 50,000. He further added that he sends around 25 kilogram rice to his friends and family and sells the rest in the open market for `90 per kg.
He further elaborated, "Since, I have only nine cows at my home, I arranged for more cow dung from Srikalahasti temple to prepare 'Jeevamrutham' and 'Ghana Jeevamrutham' to use them in the fields as organic fertilisers."
Not just that the engineer-turned-organic farmer has also been manufacturing incense sticks and coils using Desi cow dung after realising the amount of harm mosquito coils can cause. With the help of an NGO, Word, Shyamsundar has been selling his naturally-grown food products in Tirupati markets which have been finding good patronage among the people.