Farm, but why?
You might say that farming is in my DNA.
As a third-generation Indian farmer, I am proud of the agricultural heritage my family has established. I was born in a village around Nashik - Patne - where I spent most of my early years watching my father work with principles, dedication and passion for dirt.
What started on 2 acres of ancestral land has today expanded to more than 200 acres of organic farms. I learned the meaning of responsibility at a young age. Irrigation, pruning, harvesting were daily activities that took place on a farm for producing healthy, quality and delicious products to feed everyone. I learned the importance of our role as farmers in society.
Like a lot of kids, my father was my hero and I wanted to be like him. He taught me skills that no schools or universities could. From teaching me how to organize my daily expenses to planting the seed of curiosity for science, he taught me skills that helped me sustain myself through years of boarding and hostel life and choose the most suitable path for my future.
Never stop learning.
Growing up and spending incessant years racing with our education system and graduating in mechanical engineering, It was time to put things into action. I spent 2 years working at a construction block factory in optimizing machines.
My passion for machines was finally living and breathing.
Climbing up the ladder, soon after completing my MBA in Marketing, I too intended to steer towards the highrise life most of us desire and join an MNC. An idea that never saw the dawn.
I am hungry for innovation, always have been and all the while that I did, I worked for a variety of startups, each different from the other. There, I wasn’t offered a job or a salary, but a responsibility and accountability towards the future of just ideas.
My mother always said,
"Get a good education - that is something they can never take away from you."
Taking my teams around to cooperative seminars for networking and advertising, I have also learned that education continues beyond a classroom. It’s more than a grade or a diploma. It’s a mindset and a willingness to be open to new ideas and ways of thinking and that is when in the true sense I understood what she tried to impart in me.
At once, I decided to change course and follow my passion for innovation.
Don’t be afraid to work hard.
We are a society that revels in instant gratification. Our food is fast, our internet is high speed, our shipping is next day and we want remote resources to function from where we stand. Unfortunately, this desire to get things quickly goes beyond those items that make our lives easier, benefit our businesses, and adds greater fulfillment.
My father Mr. Dadaji Khairnar was the first one to introduce Pomegranate (डाळिंब / अनार) in Nashik district (Awarded with best Farming Project for Pomegranate by Govt. of Maharashtra) Introduced Silk farming in the same region (Awarded for the Largest Sericulture batch in India by the Government.)
While many didn’t even imagine setting foot beyond their conventional methods my father was the first farmer in the area that was looking forward and experimenting with this practice.
A man self-made - putting in uncomplaining years of smart and hard work.
Farming is a cycle that changes with the course of nature and needs much more strategic, coordinated and prognostic decision making as any/many corporate operations today. A job with high stakes of risk that only brave hearts can take.
When you have seen such labor-intensive growth behind everything available to us in a single tap, you are one lucky soul to know the evidence behind the apparent reality.
Leave things better than you found them.
The disruption Covid-19 has caused in India broke the whole chaotic thread of logistics and hence our instantaneous habits. This pandemic has caused food deserts in the city and surplus at the farmer's end. While the city stayed hungry the farmers threw their produce. Millions of gallons of milk dumped, tonnes of vegetables thrown, monetary las was nowhere close to the labor loss.
Times like this make us realize the value of maintaining the self-sufficiency and sustainability of the societies.
That’s when it struck me, a hyperlocal decentralized farm with short supply chains is a solution for a city of the future and an obvious turn around for the farmers. The COVID-19 disruption shed light on the dysfunctional working of our food distribution chain and offered me a challenge to invest in a suburbanized framework.
Taking forward the family legacy, from field growing to controlled-environment hydroponics - it is the next progression of the agriculture industry - an evolution for the generations to come.
The Indian Organic Farm (TIO Farms) has been built emphasizing focus towards the Indian 2030 Vision, dedicating and investing months into research and development of various strategies for the local farmers to-
- Produce pesticide-free vegetables
- Sell directly to consumers
- Mitigate pricing risks
- Investigate and innovate in food packaging and processing to increase shelf life
- Deciphering supply chain
The path I never chose, has chosen me.
I always think about what my father said,
"Leave things better than you found them."
It’s about doing more with less in the most efficient way possible and hence I choose to do, with principles, dedication and passion for dirt just as he did.
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