By: Rana Pratap Saikia
Have you ever heard the term ‘farmpreneur’? Well, students from more than 50,000 students from 50 schools in Assam are involved in farming organic foods, which they sell for a neat profit! These are the farmpreneurs, the unsung heroes, the real life superheroes!
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The organization behind this ‘inverted livelihood’ model to create ‘farm and food entrepreneurs the Northeast for a peaceful and prosperous region’ is the ‘Farm2Food‘ foundation, which was started in 2011. It began with the desire to make the young people of the people ‘sustainable’. Members of the organization were even invited in 2017 by the MHRD Foundation to speak at a function, and recently, the MHRD has started a new ‘school nutrition garden’ concept to be implemented across the length and breadth of the nation, to their immense credit.
While speaking to Inside Northeast, Deep Jyoti Sonu Brahma, Farm2Food Foundation’s co-founder and Director said: “Agriculture is the strength of Assam, we have the most fertile land, but it is hardly being developed to its full potential. It is because of the negative perception that exist here regarding farming as a viable career venture. In reality, these perceptions only exist among the common people. Big industries, meanwhile, are spending in crores in this sector.”
Farming from an entrepreneurship point of view. In many schools, school nutrition garden have been set up in rural areas of Assam. These children are from a farming background, and they already have some expertise.
To flag off the initiative, a seed donation drive was carried out in many villages. 30-40 children would go from door-to-door to ask for seeds, and people could not possibly say ‘no’!
Then, ‘knowledge donation’ was absorbed by the children and they acquired the know-how regarding cultivation and farming from concerned villagers. It was a great transaction between the students and the community.
After that, the parents and community initially helped them set up the farms, which has been dubbed as ‘labour donation’.
The ‘farmpreneurs’ then developed an organic way of farming and grew local vegetables, depending on the nutrition content in those vegetables as per a list given by an Assam University professor.
Then, the vegetables were supplied to the mid-day meals, and that is how the farmpreneurs were able to earn a neat profit from the whole venture. They were also able to sell the vermicompost, which led to further earnings. Now, all their savings are being stored in banks as each child has opened a bank account.
Thus, the organization has been able to give students first-hand exposure to entrepreneurship. Secondly, the students are being fed organic vegetables, due to which they are getting proper nutrition. Moreover, their nutrition status is being surveyed from time-to-time to ensure that the students remain healthy.
“The farms have become open science laboratories for these students. Nowadays, these students are giving science presentations. Not only that, they are starting to enjoy eating veggies, including karelas, to the utter bewilderment of parents. It is because they themselves are growing these nutritious veggies,” says Brahma.
Now, we are trying to convert the parents into organic farmers. The farmpreneurs, that is, the children, have become the trainers now”, beams Brahma.
‘Farm2Food’ Foundation can be reached at: [email protected]
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