My journey to sustainability like his father before him, Nagaraju K.M is a well-respected farmer in the region of Kolagondanahalli, Ramanagara District. His many years of experiential learning first began with the lessons that his father taught him when he was still young.
In the years since his beginning, Nagaraju has carried forward the legacy of farming in his family through a holistic approach that weaves together the indigenous knowledge of his forefathers with modern initiatives that help secure his livelihood.
Trapped in a cycle of unsustainable farming practices, Nagaraju, like many farmers in his village, had been searching for solutions to the challenges he faced. It was during this time, he says, that GREEN Foundation started its work in his village of Kolagondanahalli. He speaks of his own personal journey towards a sustainable future:
“Earlier, we used to farm inorganically and we suffered a lot with the handling of chemicals and fertilizers; it affected our health and our lands. As a result of buying those expensive chemicals we also had severe financial problems. It was very frustrating for me and at that time; I couldn’t find ways to come out of that unbearable situation.
It was during this time that GREEN came to Kolagondanahalli, with its message of seed conservation, promoting indigenous seed varieties around the area. It brought me a lot of happiness to see what they were doing and I got completely involved with the organic movement.
We were raised to appreciate and love our Indian culture and from my youth, I’ve been involved in performing folk art. My friends and I use the traditional art form to bring about social empowerment and raise awareness levels among farmers; so with GREEN’s initiation, we used our folk art to spread the message of organic farming in many communities. With GREEN’s intervention and guidance, I also started seed conservation and began to share traditional seed varieties with people in our area.
I was encouraged take this forward. And I joined organic village scheme of the Department of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka. I started sustainable agriculture practices like the SRI method of dry land paddy cultivation. This conserved water, gave me good yields and, therefore, good profit.
With GREEN’s help, I also started a kitchen garden and started saving seeds. There are more than 50 varieties of vegetables that I’ve conserved in the seed bank that I started on my own.
Then I wanted to influence the surrounding communities of my area and raise awareness of sustainable agriculture and organic farming. So we formed farmers groups for this purpose.
I went through several trainings from GREEN, government and other NGOs before I was able to take up sustainable agriculture practices. They provide farmers like me with valuable guidance.
I’m able to live happily now with my wife and two children at our home in Kolagondanahalli. And I practice sustainable agriculture and organic farming effectively on my farm.”
Today, Nagaraju participates in various regional, state and national level agri-festivals, where he showcases his collection of traditional farming implements. For his effort, the University of Agriculture Sciences, Bangalore has honored him as an advanced organic farmer of Ramanagara District. Nagaraju has also received several distinctions including the vocational award of the Rotary Club of Bangalore, Organic Farmer award by the District Administration among many others.