Awareness about the health benefits of Organic Food products is increasing in urban areas as well as Mandya, a district 100 kilometres from Bengaluru, which was facing massive issues in its agriculture and water. The income was dropping drastically, farmers were finding it tough to sell their produce and discovered their yields were getting lesser with each passing year. In steps Madhu Chandan or Madhu Anna. He had a successful software job in the US and did not start Organic Mandya as a venture for It was an effort to give back to society and make sure the farmer gains the most. He remains a farmer at heart.
When he returned (2014) from a comfortable living in the States, Software professional he was alarmed by the relatively low standard of living in Mandya, which was Prosperous and rich in agricultural wealth. The agricultural incomes were forcing youngsters from Mandya to take up menial jobs in other cities. Hence he decided to work on solutions to change that.”
He realised farmers were unable to take care of themselves and were falling into the debt-trap and started to create a venture that ensured no farmer had to give up his profession. Organic Mandya began as a cooperative society and went about enrolling farmers. They have 5,000 farmers as part of the cooperative and they grow everything from cereals to pulses and vegetables. They also set up stores, especially on the Bengaluru- Mysuru highway, where the produce is sold. They also educated farmers about the benefits of organic farming and methods of increasing yields.
As the yields went up and more farmers joined the movement and were willing to give organic food a shot.. Organic food is always a healthy choice for the consumer and beneficial for the farmer as organic methods of farming make sure their farms stay fertile all year around. In a a win-win situation. Mandya is positioning to become a chemical free district by 2020.
Madhu is philosophical, “ We do not have to always look to the West to find solutions to our problems. We have only used solutions that were used by our ancestors. Even with modernity, these age-old solutions continue to work.” Due to their efforts, Projects related to filling up more than 1,300 lakes in Karnataka are in various stages of approval. Implementation of same in various other districts of the state such as Bellary, Mysuru, Chamarajanagara, Tumakuru, Hassan, Ramanagara and Mandya are underway.
Under the scorching sun, a software engineer from California is planting paddy saplings, much to the excitement of farmers, who had lost hopes of living a decent livelihood. For distressed farmers in Mandya district of Karnataka, which saw the highest number of suicides this year, Madhuchandan Chikkadevaiah is a true saviour
A Fantastic concept, started by him is the Sweat donation programme. The agriculture sector, which faces acute shortage of labour needs helping hands. So Organic Mandya seeks the help of people from all walks of life to contribute their ‘sweat’ to a productive purpose. “A good majority of professionals go to the gym to cut down calories. In a week they may be able to burn out 300-400 calories. And their sweat just goes waste. If he or she decides to work on a field even once a week, maybe digging a small pit in the farm will help them burn out 1,200 calories. Besides, it will immensely help the farmers and have a productive result. Professionals from companies are keen to join for this mutually beneficial program,”
Besides addressing the drinking water needs of people and livestock in the villages surrounding these lakes, the filled lakes will also help to recharge the depleting groundwater. This initiative which was taken by Organic Mandya for the Margondhalli lake in Mandya, provides a new dimension to sustainable use of water, in a more responsible manner.
Another beautiful concept driven by him, has been questioning why our rich farmer become poor over the decades?the answer was simple, we HAVE TURNED OUR PRODUCER (FARMER) INTO A CONSUMER. About 30 years ago farmers in Mandya were mostly producers (99%), they only bought 2 things from the outside world which was Salt & Matchbox. Rest of the things like staples, vegetables, fruits, greens, spices, cloths, homes etc.. were produced by them or other personals within the villages. The spend was mostly nil, they consumed what they grew and the excess was sold to the outsiders. These farmers had safe deposit in their homes to store money, gold & silver. Money stayed within the village, money used to come into the village mostly and the chances of money going out of the village was way too low. They lived a sustainable & a peaceful life.
The older generation of farmers never gave into green revolution, but the younger generation of farmers gave in. Today we are seeing the effects of green revolution, there are diseases everywhere, lifespan has decreased, sons / daughters of farmers are migrating into metros for menial jobs and most interestingly the accommodation space in our brain has shrunk or almost become nonexistent. In an effort to revive our fore-fathers sustainable glory, they chose one of the biggest villages Keelara in Mandya as the first village to implement a sustainable model.
Keelara village has about 4000 families, each families spend about Rs 500 / month for vegetables & greens. These vegetables are bought from the outside market, which means 2.4 crore rupees goes out of the village each year!!! 100% of the vegetables & greens bought from outside world has chemicals in it, which in-turn causes diseases. The price of these diseases in this village turns out to be VERY COSTLY. A whopping 10 crore + is going out the village and the villages are under the stress of earning this money each year.
To keep the outflow under check Organic Mandya, dedicated a Poison Free Food Store to Keelara Organic Farmers Club. This store owned by Keelara Organic Farmers Club, started producing poison free food and the fresh produce was sold in the store. Once the surplus was achieved, it was supplied to Organic Mandya and which in turn was to be sold across their networks in Bangalore. The potential turnover of this store was about 2.4 crore rupees per year and the current spending of crores on diseases would reduce to a great extent.
The village produces, the village consumes, excess will be sold to outsiders; Money doesn’t leave the village, Money comes into the village. Also it fulfils, Farmers Health First and Later others.
His main Goal remains a CHEMICAL FREE DISTRICT..
We need more Madhu’s in India…who believes “A GRAM OF PRACTICE IS BETTER THAN KILOS OF THEORY