LEAD Prayana 2K16 changed my life in a way I could not imagine and amongst all the lessons I learned, the most prominent one was portrayed by this farmer named, Narayana Reddy!
The eighty-two-year-old Reddy was a thin and dark man with sharp facial features. He was in a half-sleeved white kurta and white lungi with a cotton towel over his left shoulder. His hair neatly combed, oiled and side-parted, he was the typical farmer of the southern plains. I could not understand why we had visited this farm specifically but when he started addressing the prayanees, my perspective changed.
His life could be summarised by two journeys, one towards being independent and second towards being the man who he is now!
According to me, A Train and a Book changed his life. Want to know how?
One day, innocent Reddy in his childhood, got late to return home as he wanted to see a train and as he was late, his father hit him. He went up to the railway station and got a ticket to Banglore! and started his first journey. He was bound to self-respect and independence even in his childhood.
He found a job as a cleaner in a restaurant and started the days of his struggle! Over the next few years, he passed his SSLC and learned to typewrite alongside. He joined as an office attendant and then promoted to manager. He had a dream to buy farmland in Sorahonase, his native village, in Varthur for which he sacrificed a normal lifestyle, he drank a glass of water for dinner and slept on gunny bags. All of his suffering finally made his dream come true!
He started growing ragi and maize in his farmland. He still remembers, “The first mistake I made was to go to an agricultural university” and stated a reason for this too, “I got the best farmer of the country award in 1976 and quadrupled my yield with chemical farming but I did not realize its downfalls.” He also spoke about the inefficiency of the modern day farming and some tricks to overcome it. The one trick I still use is his advice to me about using jaggery water to revive a dead tulsi plant!
Coming back to his story, He felt like leaving agriculture because the expensive chemical fertilizer he used to use to quadruple the yield was the reason for fewer profits and here comes the book which changed his lifetime!
He got his hands on the book – Masanobu Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution from a NASA scientist who was currently practicing organic farming. While I was having a small chat with him, he spoke about how he read the book several times and tried it on a small patch of his land.
He embraced organic farming and started improvising it. First, the yield was low, a year later the yield doubled and the third year the yield increased as same the yield from chemical fertilizers only for a third of the total cost.
There was no stopping him, he went on to become a sort after resource person on organic farming and started teaching at Azim Premji University, he received Nadoja award for his contributions towards agriculture.
When he spoke to me about the jaggery water trick, He also told me about the surprise visit of Japanese organic farmer in 1988, Masanobu Fukuoka, The man who wrote the book which transformed Reddy’s life! He felt immense sense of pride and honor as his deeds alone pulled this man from Japan to a small village in Karnataka.
His pride in being self-made and self-sufficient reflected in every word he spoke. His story inspired every cell inside me to stand up for myself and taught me the importance of simplicity!
Mr. Narayana Reddy was the role model for LEAD Prayana since 2012 who has inspired all the prayanees back then for 7 years. We mourn for his demise on January 14, 2019. He will always be rememberd for the good deeds he did.
The LEaders Accelerating Development (LEAD) Program of Deshpande Foundation, Hubballi, Karnataka fosters innovative and entrepreneurial thinking within college students by exposing them to social issues and by encouraging them to volunteer their time and effort into the community.
Events like LEAD Prayana and Yuva Summit make the program a platform for development and self-discovery! Be part of LEAD Prayana and Yuva summit 2019, Here are the links to know more and apply!