Two Full Time Corporate Engineers Are Spending Their Weekends Training Farmers On Low-cost Technology
Coming from an agrarian background, Pawan who hails from Agra district, Uttar Pradesh, often heard his father talking about farming problems. Pawan always felt the urge of doing something for the farmers to help solve their problems. He completed his B.Tech in Mechanical engineering and as luck would have it, he met another engineer from IIT Delhi, Ayush Agrawal. Both of them had similar interests – using their respective skills to help farmers in distress. Ayush is from Jaipur and one of the most predominant problems in his city is the persistent drought due to low rainfall. They started working towards their common goal of doubling the income of farmers and introducing sustainable methods of farming.
It took a great deal of research and two failed attempts in building start ups, but the duo finally came up with a model in October 2015. This model was named Kaushal Gram. Kaushal Gram is helping farmers by providing them training on technologies of organic farming, lending assistance to self-help groups by improvising business models and financial and administrative training. It aims at repairing the broken supply change, right at the bottom. So far 21 villages in Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have been covered by this duo. As many as 2800 households have been impacted by their work.
Additionally, they are teaching over 200 kids under their scheme ‘A Day of Joy’. On the other hand, they help the youth with career counselling and communication training as well.
Meet Shri Mohan Lal Arya Ji. He is one of the Kaushal Krishaks and a social changemaker as well. He is doing his bit bringing about a positive impact in the lives of farmers in Uttar Pradesh by helping them adopt better organic farming technologies. He has helped around 100 farmers in his farms and also has helped in mentoring other farmers around his locality. He has been instrumental in disseminating knowledge about sustainable and zero budget natural farming technique.
When The Logical Indian spoke to Ayush Agarwal, he said, “Farmers need to connect to each other in terms of bringing about effective change. Merely imparting knowledge about organic farming hardly helps. In this case, we picked him up as a community leader and recorded videos of the model he used. We showed them to the other farmers.”
The journey of Kaushal Gram
The journey of the duo starting the venture to attain tangible success has been an uphill ride. They started off with zero funds and only had the weekends to dedicate to their social responsibilities as they already were full-time employees elsewhere. They wanted to help thousands of distressed farmers in a small time frame, but had the manpower of only two. To mitigate this crisis, they decided to make videos of farmers who were using technology and natural farming methods which would be shown to farmers on a projector in their village. This would help them gain a better understanding than imparting oral knowledge only.
Showing how successful their fellow farmers were, really worked well the other farmers, yet another problem made its way. The farmers were unable to use expensive methods as they had small plots of land. Pawan and Ayush then started building their own technology which was cost-effective as well as an easily replicable model. This venture was specifically designed for small farmers and they named it ‘Route to Roots’.
One of the biggest challenges faced by the duo is the access of information and spreading awareness. “How do we push the information towards the farmers which would help them grow holistically? The information channel is completely broken,” Ayush retaliates when asked about the major challenges faced by the initiative. Distribution of information and dissemination of information is one of the basic problems which are being faced on a daily basis.
Pawan and Ayush helped in setting up a low-cost biogas plant which came at the one-tenth price of what such a system actually costs. This was really helpful for the organic farmers as it got them about 20-30 minutes of fuel, enough for culinary purposes. The cow dung is directly filled in the homemade biogas plant and it also makes slurry filled with microorganisms that are perfect as manure for plants. 40 of such biogas plants have been installed at various places. additionally, they also have helped in installing solar power panels on roof-tops for generating clean energy source in far-flung villages where there is a lack of stable power supply.
The duo has reached out to various farmers who have switched to natural farming. They have successfully shattered the myth harboured by farmers that organic farming leads to lesser yields. They showed videos of organic farming to these farmers and helped them gather the know-how of organic farming. Additionally, they built a portal which made all the information handy without having to undergo the hassle of downloading an app.
The agricultural portal which Pawan and Ayush designed delivers end to end knowledge about the weather forecast, natural and effective methods of micro-organism agriculture and farmer welfare policy. This portal would enable the farmers to receive information via SMS in their local language as well. This dedicated change makers Pawan and Ayush imbibed the knowledge of IT and helped as many as 25,000 farmers benefit from the portal. Ayush said, “Most of the villagers do not have access to the source of information, specifically the females of the family. We wanted to bring about a mode of disseminating information that does not heavily rely on technology. This portal is telecom based and is easy to use as well as can be accessible by one and all”
On asking Ayush if he has any message for the readers, he said, “We have a simple line of thought. You don’t have to act big, but think big and act small.”
The Logical Indian community strongly believes that with more of such dedicated youth committed to bringing about a change for the farmers in the country, we can gradually hope that the count of farmer suicides in the country might lessen someday.