Three Chennaiites teach agriculture to youngsters at Farm Shiksha

Ashwin

Chennai: No matter how many years pass, children always fancy of becoming a doctor or an engineer. However, at the same time we are witnessing techies going the old school way and take up farming, quitting the job that provides them fat paycheque. It is understood that there is a gap between people belonging to current and old generation.

The lack of knowledge is reflected in the career choices that children make. To bridge the gap, three Chennaiites – Ramkumar, Aditya Ramkumar and Ashwin – have come up with ‘Farm Shiksha’, an initiative that teaches the totality of farming.

“We realised that it is due to the portrayal of trials and tribulations of the farmers, it is not considered as the go-to profession. However, the success stories are the ones that are not brought to the limelight and is oft-ignored which we take close to them,” Ashwin tells News Today.

This thought brought the three together who have already been doing agriculture despite being into other professions.

“Children are even unaware of from where they get the vegetables,” Ashwin tells, who works as the regional head in a private company.

It mooted them to introduce farming education. Interestingly, when the trio expressed their idea to the father of agriculture M S Swaminathan, who, impressed by it, agreed to mentor them and helped designed the curriculum. It is split into two categories – fundamentals and integrated.

Ramkumar

While in the first part, they teach about the basics of agriculture and in the second section, the role of technology in farming, like usage of drone for monitoring, is covered.

In the basics, consumption ethics is also taught. For instance, whenever we visit the market, our hands naturally pick the mango that is spotless and yellow. However, little do we know what goes into the process to get a ‘clean’ mango.
“People do not know that the one with the spots is naturally ripened and with a ripening chamber, we explain the scientific way of the process,” Ashwin, the chief operating officer at the farm, adds.

Around 5,000 students have signed up to visit the farm at Arakkonam in the current year. While this is a significant achievement, it was not an easy task for the trio to convince.

“Acceptance of the idea among the schools was a challenge. The teachers were of the opinion that the children may enjoy

Aditya Ramkumar

watching a movie than doing agriculture. Convincing the management was a daunting task,” Aditya, a chartered accountant, by profession says.

For the schools located near the farm, Aditya, the CEO of farm, adds, “It is most likely that they hail from farming family and we teach them techniques that is time-saving and effective. When the kids tell their parents, they accept and shift to new methods.”

BE A ONE-DAY FARMER

As part of the initiative, the students are taken to their 25-acre farm in Vyasapuram at Arakkonam and they get the opportunity to lead the life of a farmer for a day.

“We demonstrate them the activities of farmers in an interesting way and also engage them and explain the other types of farming,” Aditya says.

However, it is not a one-off opportunity. “We charge the student during their first visit and the interested ones can visit the farm for one-year and can do agriculture,” he adds.

The trio arrange for an internship under Swaminathan’s guidance for the students who are really interested.

Bhavani Prabhakar