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Quits High Flying Corporate Job to become Organic Farmer-Entrepreneur and Earns 60 Lakhs Plus Turnover in an Year!

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan

Farming is not just a job, it’s a way of life says Aniish Shah when we open the talk. He was in Conversation with the Editor of Agriculture World, Dr Lakshmi Unnithan. Aniish Shah with his brand “Earth Harvests” were part of the FTB-a Krishijagran Initiative at the Agriculture World Platform.

The Journey of Aniish Shah began as a Terrace Gardener in 2012 in Bengaluru where Aniish picked up some soil, seeds, and a few pots. Within two months, he went from two to 20 pots. He says he grew beetroots, carrots, chillies, radish, french beans, tomato, brinjals, palak, and methi without any chemicals and had so much produce that I would often give it away to my friends and neighbours. The sense of fulfilment pushed him to learn more about farming. He spent close to 20 days on the farm of Dr Narayan Reddy, a pioneer in organic farming in Karnataka. From him, Aniish picked up ancient knowledge on farming. He did not have any land to implement all his learnings, but some of his friends did. He decided to use their land for farming and divide the profits.

Leaving behind his 16 year old career, Aniish Shah is one of the few who decided to live close to nature and grow food. Now, Aniish is a successful organic farmer-entrepreneur, who grows close to 20 crops on 30 acres. Some of the crops grown include groundnuts, wheat, turmeric, black-eyed beans, corn, pepper, mangoes, and cashews. He also practises agroforestry on 1.5 acres of land, growing trees of silver oak, teakwood, sandalwood and areca nut, bananas, pineapple, papaya, guavas, and chikoo. The technique of farming varies from ingenious techniques of biodynamic farming, a form of alternative and natural farming without any chemicals.

He remembers how his initial struggles were a failure, buthe refused to give up on his dream. He took a permaculture course on a farm in Zahirabad near Hyderabad for 15 days. This was followed by another course in biodynamic farming from Bhai kaka Krishi Kendra in Anand, Gujarat. Aniish would often visit the outskirts in places like Karjat and Satara and meet with farmers. In 2017, he started Earth Harvests to eliminate middlemen and connect farmers directly to consumers. Meanwhile, he also started offering consultation services helping people set up their home farms, terrace gardens, hydroponic farms, and vertical gardens. The turning point came in early 2019 when he got in touch with a landowner in Sindhudurg. Aniishtook 30 acres and began his journey as a farmer.

Biodynamic Farming, Companion Planting Method and JeevamruthaBegets Success

Aniish grows Green manure, sows the seeds of legumes, millets, corn and a few greens. After 45 days, when these crops have grown, he uses a rotavator, to uproot these crops. The crops make the soil rich and act as mulch for the next crop, which is grown for a longer period. With a bit of planning and spending Rs 1,000 on seeds, you make the soil so rich that you cut the costs on fertilizers. Aniish follows the ‘companion planting’ method, where different crops are grown in proximity. This helps in pest control and pollination. On his farm, he grows turmeric with toor dal, corn, bottle gourd and bitter gourd. Additionally, he makes organic fertilizers and uses unique methods for pest control. Jeevamrutha is prepared in both dry and liquid forms using cow dung, cow urine, gram flour, jiggery and good quality soil. He also uses Biochar obtained from burning organic and wood waste, which is mixed with the Jeevamrutha or Algae. He also makes Fish Fertilizers by mixing fish waste with jaggery, a teaspoon of urea, and water, which is fermented for a week before use.

Pest Control

For pest control, he makes a mixture of cow urine, ginger, chili and tobacco leaves, which is fermented for a week. This is diluted with water before spraying. Aniish also informs that yellow and orange flowers (like Marigold) tend to attract more pests. So, he creates a barrier around his primary crops by planting these flowers.

Earth Harvest Baskets

The Brand developed by him is called “Earth Harvests” a farm to table concept where customers are sent weekly boxes of fresh organic/Natural produce. Currently, they have over 400 regular customers. He has even exported his veggies to the Middle East and the UK. Priced at Rs 1,000, the10-kg box of essential staples has seasonal veggies and fruits along with free-range eggs and mushrooms as add ons. Many Societies in Mumbai source these every week. Through his farming practices and consultation services, Aniish has a turnover of nearly Rs 60 Lakh plus a year.

The Road Ahead

Aniishat present is committed to spreading the message of eating local, seasonal and fresh. He is working towards adding more farmers to his network so that they are paid equitably. On his own farm, he plans to scale operations and bring Earth Harvest to cities like Bengaluru, Indoreand Ahmedabad. He also carefully collects and preserves seeds of indigenous crops in his ‘Seed Bank’, which is open to others.

“Knowing your farmers and where your food comes from is the first step towards eating healthy.  And with time, we have realised that eating good food and taking care of our health is the most important thing” says Aniish. “I look forward to share my learnings and leave behind a legacy that promotes traditional agricultural values,” he says before signing off.

The Intention is to inform people to start growing and eating healthy. Let youth get inclined towards this sector and bring back good food for all. Smart thinking, planning and processing will help the farmers earn better. Take control of your future. Grow your own food, Preserve your own food, Trade and Barter, Cook from Scratch, Save your seed and Become Self Sufficient.

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