Responsible farming near Bangalore

We’re in Hessarghatta, an hour or so south of Bangalore in a rural area of the Deccan Plateau. It is a very parched landscape. The Arkavathi River, which once ran through it, is now completely vanished year round. And because the land prices here have risen so dramatically in value (due to its proximity to the thriving city), many farmers who benefited from a government law enabling them to own their own land, simply sold off portions at vast sums. These new millionaires are undisturbed by the cost of water and waste it liberally, knowing that they can buy in more from neighbouring states or dig boreholes for more.

The boreholes must descend hundreds of feet, though. There is hard granite for 400ft before the fossil water begins. And this ancient aquifer will not be replaced by monsoons or anything else. Pumping, especially from such depths, requires a lot of energy and with power outages of 13 hours a day here, farmers are getting pretty vocal about their shrivelling crops.

There are a handful of water-concerned people, including Ambika, a former teacher from Chennai who moved to the district to run an organic farm that is next to an eco hotel. She uses rainwater harvested from the hotel’s roof and has ingenious ways of using every last drop, including drip irrigation and canal systems.

Having no knowledge of farming when she arrived 6 months ago, Ambika approached scientists at the locally based Indian Institute of Horticural Research, “but they were of the Green Revolution generation and didn’t approve of farming without pesticides or chemical fertilizers”. Nevertheless, she stuck to her ideals and joined a community of organic growers in Bangalore.

It’s great to see her vegetable plots and remarkable yields, but as with organic farming elsewhere, it is niche, prohibitively expensive and even convincing her farmhands of the method has been a continual struggle.

15 thoughts

  1. Hello,
    My name is Naveen and i am interested in concept of organic farming in and around Bangalore, India. I cam across your very intriguing article about this organic farm near bangalore. Could you help me get the details on this farm (Address, contact information).

    Thank You
    Naveen

  2. ironically, my wife and i have an organic farm outside of bangalore, which we’ve been tentatively calling “Gaia”. we’ve just been there for over a year, but have been having a lot of success as a WWOOF host farm- hosting more than fifteen guests over the months of November/ December 2009. We’ve been busy planting forest and fruit trees, growing organic ragi and peanuts, developing vegetable gardens and making natural guest houses. We’re located just behind Delhi Public School East, off of Sarjapur Road in a village called Chokkasandra. We’re open to all who are curious and interested in organic farming and sustainable living. email me at jfennessy@gmail.com

  3. hello ,
    my name is bharat. i am from kolar dist, i want to organic farming so i don’t no about that . i very interested in this field. i have 3 cows . my other friends are doing rabbit farming near my village . i want to do organic farming & fishery . can you able to help .

    1. Good luck with it Bharat. I can’t offer advice on organic farming, I’m afraid. Why don’t you contact your local university or local government offices.

  4. My name is Nanda. I am from Hindupur Dist, I have 2 acres of land and interested in any kind of Cultivation, farming, fishery . Can you guide,advice me regarding any of these.
    Thanks

    1. The city has been using fossil water for some time now, partly because of poor management of rainwater and the extensive use of concrete which prevents monsoon downpours from replenishing the groundwater supplies.

  5. Hi Arati,
    Been through your blog,I am planning to start organic farming.Though my father was farmer, I have very superficial knowledge on this subject.before I start this project, I thought I should talk to people who have already ventured in to organic farming and gain some knowledge. Can me and my family visit your farm. I leave in Banglore-Koramangla.
    -Surendra

  6. Great to see organic farming is entering Bangalore in a big way at many levels by many people who have take initiatives.

  7. My Name is Neelkant Rajaghatta we have Agricultural land in dodbalapur looking for assistance in organic farming.

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