Pooja Chaudhuri Chaudhuri
The only fiction I enjoy is in books and movies.
The better part of our youth is spent in receiving a formal education so that our future is secure and comfortable. Money plays an important role in this. For most of us, earning money is the ultimate goal because we equate money with happiness.
Only a fortunate few realise that the time, investment and effort spent in educating us is meant for a purpose which is bigger than our own being. One such individual is the 36-year old Bhopal resident and former banker, Sankalp Sharma, who was brave enough to break out of the corporate bubble and follow his dream of Natural Farming.
Sankalp hails from the city of Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh and is an engineering and MBA graduate. For more than a decade, he had lived the life of a 9 to 5 corporate. Eighteen month ago, he quit his job of a banker when monotony caught up with him. “I just wanted to get out of this monotonous life and do something where I can follow my passion and give back to the society at the same time”, said Sankalp.
Though he had grown up watching his family practise traditional farming, Sankalp had no real knowledge about the techniques and concepts of farming. He researched and read up about it, and this was when he was introduced to ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’ – the brain-child of Padma Shri awardee Subhash Palekar. He attended a seminar conducted by Shri Palekar in Indore and later visited 4-5 natural farming farms in Nagpur.
After returning back to Vidisha, Sankalp experimented zero budget natural farming on a small piece of land. Zero budget natural farming, as the name suggests, bears no production cost. It is believed that the soil is fertile enough and full of nutrients for healthy growth of crops, therefore no artificial fertilizers are used to promote growth. “It is a myth that crops require artificial fertilizers and pesticides”, argued Sankalp. He uses a family-owned plot of land to naturally grow both horticulture and traditional crops like wheat, pulses and other varieties of crops and vegetables.
Sankalp wishes to expand his farming business and create a marketing channel through which farmers can sell directly. “Last year the prices of tomatoes hit rock bottom and this is the main reason why I want to expand my farming business to develop a marketing channel. Farmers are the only lot that pay retail prices for their purchase, while all sales are made on wholesale prices. Farmers are unfortunate all around the world. They do not get paid what they deserve. My long-tern goal is to uplift the current condition of farmers and provide them access to directly sell through my marketing channel.” His time in B-school will help him with this venture.
The past one and a half years have been a roller-coaster ride for Sankalp. He had to face multiple challenges to give shape to his dream. Bad monsoons in 2016 affected production. But Sankalp knew the risks involved before he started out. “Giving up monthly fixed salary for a completely new venture was risky. But it was a calculated risk”, he said. His background in banking helped him sort out his finances and plan his investments. His family supported him too. He dedicates the fulfilment of his dream to his father, brother and his wife who stood by him through thick and thin. His job involves staying away from home 5 days a week, but this has had no negative effect on his married life as his wife is supportive of her husband’s dreams.
When asked what message he would want to give to the youth of India, Sankalp said, “Do what you’re most afraid of doing. Most people do not have the courage to follow their passion because of responsibilities, financial strain and family. Hence, they wait for the right time. But there is no right time. You have to believe in yourself and take the leap when you are confident.”
Sankalp has come a long way from where he started, but he knows that there is still a long way to go and a lot more to achieve. Our wishes are with him and his family.
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