Madhu Chandan’s Organic Mandia: Reviving India’s Heartland

HomeFarmingMadhu Chandan's Organic Mandia: Reviving India's Heartland
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Farming was once, and still is, one of the backbones of our economy, but the current situation for farmers and farming in India, especially in Mandia, is pretty dire. This typical farming district reflects the heart of India.

When Madhu was growing up, he used to visit his grandparents, who were farmers living in Mandia. He always envied their lifestyle because they were living close to nature, and they were all healthy and wealthy.

So, he was always passionate about farming, but he did his engineering, and like everybody else, it was a kind of compulsion to get into the software field.

The truth in farming districts across the country is that this once rich and rewarding occupation has taken a turn for the worse. Mandia typifies what is happening across the country.

More and more agriculturists move in search of the proverbial greener pasture in cities and urban centres, leaving behind generations of experience to know how to grow three square meals from the land.

When he came to Bangalore, most of the time, he used to travel by auto-rickshaws because his house and everything were back in the US. So, when he was travelling in auto-rickshaws, he used to engage with the auto-rickshaw drivers. They were saying, “Sir, we are from Mandia, but we are in Bangalore because we are not earning anything out of agriculture.”

He used to ask them, “Do you own any lands?” They used to say, “Yes, we have land. We have two acres. We have three acres. But unfortunately, we are not able to earn anything from that. So, that’s why we are here in Bangalore earning 15-20k per month.”

Farmers seem to be giving up their arable land and moving, destroying their age-old ways and, in turn, giving up their health in the name of development. That guilt-conscious kind of made him think.

He should come back to his village. he should understand, and study the problem. Why people are suffering? Why this richness has gone? Why they have become drivers? Why they are cleaning utensils in Bangalore? Why they are working as mates in Bangalore? he wanted to come back and understand the difficulties.

Our rich heritage has held strong for centuries, and buried in it are secrets to healthy, better living than we have overlooked in hurried progress. No technology can save our farmers. The only technology that could save our farmers was our learning from our ancestors, learning from the roots. So, this kind of made me think of starting a new concept called Organic Mandia.

His name is Madhu Chandan. He is a software professional turned organic farmer. Now, he is in the process of making his place a chemical-free district. By combining traditional knowledge with today’s entrepreneurial spirit, a platform to solve the downward spiral of the district was created.

They call farmers Anadata, a person who gives food to others. But today, what we are doing as Anadata, we are putting poison, and we are giving, which is very wrong. So, he grouped about 250 farmers and then started the first organic cooperative society in India called Mandia Organic Farmers Cooperative Society.

Everyone accepted. Yes, everyone told them, “His grandparents were living a beautiful life, but now we have brought down the misery on to us by all this new age of farming.”

Farmers from over 300 villages in the district of Mandia have now taken to chemical-free and traditional organic farming. In the 320 villages, they have found over 320 organic farmers clubs which means each club has about 20 to 30 farmers. They have grouped them so that they perform very well as a group.

Things began looking up almost immediately here in Mandia. Not even a single rupee was spent on any of the inputs. Cows’ manure was used as fertilizers, and cows’ urine was used as urea for pest control. So, our farmers never spent a single rupee on any of the inputs they used on the land. It was all free and freely available in their backyard.

As soon as they stopped putting chemicals, on the land, the soil automatically starts recuperating itself. Likewise, they tied up with the goshala. They kind of gave 500 to 600 cows for our farmers so that kind of became an incentive for our farmers to do organic farming.

There are a lot of nuances and thinking that have gone into making a difference over the last six years, but the name Organic Mandia has become a name to reckon with. It is not just a company that is looking at producing organic food but looking to provide a solution to the problems being faced by farmers.

When they started this movement, they had two things in their minds. One is to make Mandia a chemical-free district, and the second objective was to uplift the economic status of our marginal farmers. With these two intentions, they started. They are seeing the benefits firsthand too, not only in terms of increased profits but in terms of better health as well.

A lot of organic activities have started in Mandia. A lot of farmers are getting into organic farming practices. A lot of women are turning back to kitchen gardens. Mandia has now come full circle.

It is slowly regaining its past glory. What was going wrong is being set right now. Today, when people talk about Mandia, they don’t just say Mandia. They say, Organic Mandia. That’s how the brand has been.

It’s kind of becoming an organic hub. If anybody wants to buy organic or see organic or feel organic, so, automatically, Mandia becomes the destination organic hub for India. That’s our vision. That’s our goal.

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