Rakesh Mahanty, a 30-year old engineering graduate from Bengaluru, joined Tata Consultancy Services in Kolkata after completing his Btech in 2012 like any other student would prefer. However, five years later, he decided to quit his high-paying job to start community farming. Since then, he has been helping more than 80 farmers associated with him in Jamshedpur's Patamda Block to double their income.
Mahanty is now the founder of the social enterprise Brook N Bees that helps the local farmers produce organic crops. In addition, he and other farmers share land, knowledge resources, labour, equipment, machinery with each other, against which the farmers having their own land get profit percentage while the landless ones receive an income of ₹ 6000 every month, The New Indian Express reported.
The young farmer said that he decided to prepare a model farm with the help of five farmers who already worked with him on his own on a small land. Things improved significantly and people started adopting this concept. Presently, over 80 farmers are associated with him and making a decent profit.
Recalling his journey, Mahanty explained that he used to visit his fields in Jamshedpur while pursuing his MBA and simultaneously planning his future.
"While pursuing my degree, I was inclined to farming and wanted to convert agriculture into industry. Over time, I observed there were various challenges that are difficult to deal with. I travelled intensively all over India and met farmers to understand their way of farming and problems they were facing," Mahanty told the newspaper.
"Finally, I concluded that local issues have to be dealt locally and therefore brought a concept of 'Ecological Sustainable Farming' which sorts problems by looking at three aspects – environment, social and economical. Through this concept, things are designed contextually as per the requirements of the local community, he added.
Farm Participation Project
Mahanty started another initiative called 'Farm Participation Project' under which workshops were organised in the farm fields for the people belonging to urban areas where they get the knowledge about the local food system, food production, agro-ecology, and livelihood the farmers.
"This initiative was to bridge the gap between the urban and rural people so that they get to know about each other. The idea is to promote local food system among the people living nearby," Mahanty said.
Later, 'Farmer's Haat' was also started under which stalls were set up in hosing societies to make organic products available at the doorsteps and create a habit among consumers to use them.
"As of now, nearly 200 farmers are connected to me all over India, whereas around 80 farmers are linked to me in Patamda Block. I also provide consultancy to them as and when required from the farmers all over the country," Mahanty said.
The farmers produce four varieties of rice, leafy non-leafy vegetables, food crops, millets, and several other things.