Three cheers to the couple- Rekha Ramu and Parthasarthy, who went out of their way to bring back the organic farming culture from the 50-year old deep-rooted clutches of Green Revolution and initiated the Organic Farmers cooperative Market (OFM).
This is how it all started…
Both Rekha and Parthasarathy worked in high paying IT firms in Chennai and had all modern facilities at their home and surroundings. The wheels of thought started rolling in when their little son fell ill. The couple wondered as to what went wrong in their child’s feeding. This spark dismantled the couple’s idea of ‘modern’ lifestyle. Consequently, they started reading several books and other resources that discussed this issue. They realized during their research that the causes for most of the diseases were pesticide-sprayed food and complicated modern lifestyle. The couple then decided to consume only organic food. They tried convincing their families, who were into agriculture, to use organic methods for farming. Afraid of the low quantity of the produce, their families refused to adopt organic farming.
Organic Farming Revisited
Ardent on their vision, the couple quit their jobs in the city. They acquired a small piece of land from their families and started cultivating on this piece of land using purely organic methods. The couple was successful in their efforts despite some initial travails. And now, nearly 6 years later, over 100 acres of the area around their village, Pandeiswaram, is being cultivated using only organic farming techniques.
Marketing the produce
One of the challenges that the couple faced was to sell their produce in the market at a reasonable price. Rekha, who was a finance consultant with an IT major, with the support of other like-minded people initiated the idea of Organic Farming Cooperative Market (OFM). OFM was intended to be a platform for the farmers to directly sell their produce to consumers. Today, OFM has 17 outlets in and around Chennai helping farmers to sell their produce at reasonable rates. And it is also helping consumers to have access to genuine and healthy food grains and vegetables, thus making it a solution for two polar problems.
The enthusiastic couple also indulges in organizing events which promote ancient traditional practices for a healthy lifestyle. One such recent event was “Bringing the mud back”, which involved emphasizing the importance of using earthen cookware. It also invited the interested to try their hands on the potter’s wheel. A noteworthy fact is – the organizers make sure that all these events are plastic-free and litter-free. The couple has also announced the opening of a children’s club- “Under the Big Mango tree”. This club aims at encouraging children across ages to learn and explore home based ecological activities.
It is worthwhile to note that these ideas can be replicated in quite a few cities and suburbs across India. This is possible by connecting them to nearby agricultural lands through platforms like OFMs. Our takeaway from the duo’s story is quite evident yet deep – it is important to chase the problems down to their roots. We can then solve them with critical questioning and perseverance. And this approach can make a real difference in the world we live in.