Dammapeta (Kothagudem): A young techie with 15 years work experience including five in the US gave in to his calling – natural farming. It was a homecoming of sorts since farming was always his passion, and he slipped into the new role with ease, changing his language from matrix and coding to biomass fertilizer and crop diversification.
Meet Devarapalli Harikrishna, a 39-year-old computer engineering graduate from Mandalapalli village in Dammapeta mandal in Kothagudem district who is as comfortable using a plough as he was with the keyboard.
Sharing his journey from being a software engineer to a natural farmer, Harikrishna told Telangana Today that after completing his graduation, he worked as a software engineer for 10 years in Hyderabad and for five years in the US.
Even while he was working, he used to assist his father. Two years ago, Harikrishna left a well paying job to take up farming, much to the chagrin of his parents. For the past one year, he has been fully engaged in farming after the demise of his father.
In their 35 acres of land in the village, Harikrishna cultivates a variety of agriculture and horticulture crops such as paddy, turmeric, chilli, cocoa, oil palm and coconut. He recently started banana cultivation setting an example in crop diversification.
“I avoid chemical pesticides, fertilizers or weedicides. I use only organic materials such as crop residues and green manures like jeelugu to nourish the soil,” he said.
Explaining the importance of natural farming, Harikrishna said: “Soil has an amazing quality of turning waste into nutrients. Many farmers burn paddy straw and stubble after harvest, a practice that harms the soil, besides causing pollution.”
Crop residue creates biomass fertilizer improving soil structure. Environment-friendly agriculture asks for extra effort and time, but often farmers are looking for easy and quick solutions, he said.
The recent incident of people falling sick because of impermissible quantities of pesticide and herbicide residues in vegetables at Eluru in Andhra Pradesh is an eye-opener and shows the dangers of continuous use of chemical fertilizers, he averred.
Stating that there was an urgent need for people to understand the importance of organically and naturally grown food, the techie-turned-farmer said If people start buying naturally grown commodities, then more and more farmers will turn to natural farming.
He ships food items he grows to his clientele in cities like Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Vizag, Vijayawada, Guntur, Ramagundam, among others. He takes care to process turmeric and chilli into powder and the many NRIs visiting home, buy the produce from him.
Besides engaging in natural farming Harikrishna also spends time educating his fellow farmers about the benefits of natural farming in Dammapet mandal. Witnessing his success, several farmers are coming forward to follow natural farming.
He was also invited to deliver a lecture at an online training programme on organic farming organised in Hyderabad by Prof Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University.
Harikrishna was among the five organic farmers who were chosen from the State to interact and share their experiences with Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu in the State capital marking Farmer’s Day.
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