Citizens of Bangalore turn farmers
South India is teeming with familyrun businesses and small, local producers growing seedless Italian lemons to blooming mushrooms in the terrace flats and raising rows of baby radish greens via hydroponics
BENGALURU: South India is teeming with family-run businesses and small, local producers growing seedless Italian lemons to blooming mushrooms in the terrace flats and raising rows of baby radish greens via hydroponics.
Former lawyer Namrata Goenka was always passionate about food and wanted to understand how to grow it and where it comes from. Shifting base to Bengaluru from Delhi led to her moving into an apartment with a terrace where she started growing herbs and vegetable patches. She came across a course on mushroom cultivation being taught at ICAR - Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Hesaraghatta, and enrolled herself. During the course she learnt that there were so many varieties of mushrooms beyond the usual button versions. “For me, this seemed like a sustainable practice, growing something from waste into a healthy produce high in protein,” says Goenka.
Living Food Company (LFC) co-founder and CEO Akash Sajith’s mother and father were both diagnosed with cancer in May 2014 and March 2018. He wondered how his non-smoking, vegetarian parents could get cancer. A deep dive into cancer research revealed because of ground water being polluted by carcinogenic substances. “In Karnataka, the cropping patterns have altered over the last 30 years to move away from Ragi and other millets that grow exceedingly well in dry, arid areas. Instead, the cultivation of water-intensive crops that deplete water resources as well as nutrients in soil has increased.
For example, the area under sugarcane cultivation in Karnataka has increased by five times in the last 25 years. Research has shown that sugarcane has adverse effects on the nutrition profile of soil and contributes significantly to soil degradation. This coupled with indiscriminate and unregulated use of pesticides is severely affecting the groundwater and soil contamination levels. During 2016-17, Indians consumed close to 57,000 MT of chemical pesticides through food, including those that have been banned in other countries (source: Ministry of Agriculture data),” says Akash.
Having access to the natural, chemical free gourmet produce is beneficial than those expensive trips to supermarkets.