From farmers to agri-entrepreneurs – A silent revolution of rural transformation

Prime News, National, Karnataka, Agriculture, Farmers, Entrepreneurs, Mysuru, August 19:- “The greatest achievement in this country has been that of our farmers, who have managed to feed 1.25 billion people. It’s on us now to help them improve their livelihood, the soil quality, and our food security,” says Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev.

“Farmers feed everyone, yet they go hungry. They have the land, the water and the manpower in most places, yet for lack of exposure to the right contemporary tools, techniques and technology, they have been left off the radar of development.”

In a bid to strengthen this backbone of the economy and ecology, ‘Cauvery Calling’ volunteers are hand holding the ‘negila (plough) yogis’ of the Cauvery basin to reverse the growth spiral and help our farmers not just become self-sustaining, but also make them ambassadors of an ecological transformation in the Cauvery delta.

As part of its ‘Cauvery Calling’ programme, Isha Outreach has been facilitating a transformation in the agricultural sector in the region by offering adoption and implementation of tree-based agriculture as a solution for a variety of issues faced by farmers in the region as well as the only way to naturally replenish the soil by increasing its organic content. So far Isha has enabled over 107,000 farmers to adopt tree-based agriculture. There is considerable enthusiasm among the farmers about tree-based agriculture and government agroforestry schemes.

While the government agroforestry schemes have been around for a long time now, farmers have stayed deprived of their benefits due to lack of access, awareness and information. This is where thousands of Isha volunteers are playing a role by not just educating the farmers, but also hand holding them through the entire process of availing these schemes and implementing them successfully.

Around 120 volunteers man an IVR helpline that assists farmers at every step every day from 9 am to 9 pm and the volunteers teach thousands of farmers on how to use the zoom or google meet apps, for intensive online interactions. Farmers are connected to various industry experts and scientists through Cauvery Calling technical webinars and the intimate group meets. Grassroots officials are being inspired and invited to collaborate with the project through 1785 gram panchayat events. 890 Mara Mitras have been appointed to register farmer demand using our state of the art mobile app and Isha will soon start its nursery operations in Karnataka. The Isha nursery in Tamil Nadu is one of the largest organic sapling nurseries in the country.

Cauvery Calling was launched in September 2019 by Sadhguru with a mega motor rally through the entire stretch of river Cauvery and aims to take tree-based agriculture to over 5.2 million farmers in the river basin. By enabling farmers to plant 242 crore trees in the delta region, the project intends to reverse the depletion of Cauvery, enhance groundwater levels in the region, enrich the soil nutrients, as well as lead to a three to eightfold increase in farmer income. Despite Covid-19, 68 lakh saplings were picked up under the KAPY scheme because of the efforts of isha volunteers who have been working on the ground as well as in the backend.

On August 2, Cauvery Calling, a massive outreach campaign of Isha, was launched covering 1785 Gram Panchayats in Bengaluru Rural, Chikkamagaluru, Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Kodagu, Mysuru, Mandya, Ramanagara and Tumakuru creating awareness about tree-based agriculture in respective villages. Till date 475 events have been organised – 27 taluks, 439 Gram Panchayats and 9 district events.

Our efforts in Mysuru saw tremendous response with MLAs across party lines also vouching their support for our efforts. “Our farmers were planting trees before for many occasions, we should bring back this culture. Trees should be planted in farmlands. CC team will create awareness now and our government officials should support them,” said Chamundeshwari Constituency MLA G T Devegowda.

“You are doing good work, we will support you in this,” said Varuna Constituency MLA Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah.

“No one should oppose any project that’s helping protect the environment. We have always supported such projects and will support them in the future. Our government should also support this. When we treat nature as our first god there is no chance of destroying it, everyone must do that,” said MLA Ashwin Kumar in T Narasipura.

“We welcome Isha’s initiative to enable farmers to grow trees in farmlands. 50 years ago, farmers planted at least a few trees on their bunds for shade and protection from rains. Now if a farmer has to find some shade he has to walk many kilometres. All of us support and wish that Cauvery Koogu will be successful. Let Cauvery flow throughout the year,” said MLA K Mahadev in Periyapattana.

Fifty events were held across four taluks from August 2 to 13 which saw a total of 1,000 participants that included various government officials, Zilla Panchayat members, EOs, PDOs among others. A host of events have been lined up in Periyapattana and other gram panchayats in Mysuru with around 250 of our volunteers taking the campaign ahead with full enthusiasm backed by the equally active support of local farmers who said they are “happy to see that someone is coming and helping us.” (MR)

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