Kolkata/Bengaluru: Are you one of those who has dreamt of owning a farm plot and harvesting your own crops, after being introduced to online games like HayDay and Farmville? Or are you one of those who keeps thinking of pesticides or colouring agents used in your veggies or fruit? Then hang on! For Kolkata’s techie, Shameek Chakravarty is all set to give wings to your dream. Thanks to Shameek and Farmizen, you can do farming of your own.
This alumna of Calcutta Boys’ School, who is stationed in Bengaluru these days, is busy networking with farmers across India to collaborate and make this dream a reality. Shameek, a software engineer by education and an entrepreneur by passion, has only one dream – “Revolutionize the way India grows its veggies and to empower both the consumers and producers”.
From virtual to real
Speaking to eNewsroom, Shameek, CEO of Farmizen shares, “I as a consumer was wary of the food that I bought for consumption. I kept looking for organic produce, but I always questioned myself about the authenticity of their claims. You see, the green revolution has actually done more harm to the Indian soil than help. The rampant use of fertilizers and pesticides has actually depleted the rich Indian soil of its natural nutrients. Farmizen is an initiative which aims at reviving the traditional organic way of producing crops, by taking help from modern technology.”
On being asked how did this idea of replicating an online game came to him, he reveals, “Online games like Farmville or HayDay are extremely popular. Many of my friends play it and are really concerned about their online farms. This popularity made me realize that there would be many who would be interested in practicing what they did online; this was when Farmizen was born. And thus we collaborated with farmers in the vicinity of Bengaluru city to help those interested to harvest their own yields.”
How does Farmizen work?
Mini-farms of the size of 600 square feet is let out to the urban farmers, who want to grow their own organic produce. These mini farms are further divided into 12 beds, where seeds of crops you want to grow are sown by the farmers. “Those renting these mini farms are free to visit their farms, help in planting seeds in nurseries or even participate in preparing humus for their farms. However, we understand that the urban working class has little time to attend their farms on a daily basis. So, they have the option of paying weekly visits while we along with the real farmers take care of the crops through the week,” he says.
He explains that the farms are not tilled using any machines or tractors barring the first time. “We don’t till the land the earthworm does it for us. When we first began with this concept of growing your own organic produce, there were no earthworms in the soil. But now the soil is rich with them. We believe in following the natural way of growing crops, which is multi-cropping. You see, the forests have the most fertile land. Is it ploughed? Is only one variety of trees grown there? No. We are following the same principle, as it doesn’t deplete the soil of a certain mineral. We don’t use pesticides. We use Neem oil sprays to protect the crops or even pant marigold flowers to ward off the unwanted pests.”
It’s a win-win situation for all. While the consumers get quality organic produce at a cost, the risks of farmers are greatly reduced. “In the business of agriculture, unfortunately, the maximum risk is born by the farmers. The middlemen involved in marketing crops from farmers to consumers suffer from no real loss. Farmizen reduces this risk for farmers. They now have a fixed income, based on the number of mini farms they lease out to the urban farmers.”
“It’s a great joy to see to grow your own veggies naturally along with other like-minded people,” says Saee Bapat, a Bengaluru-based yoga trainer. Saee maintains that Farmizen has made her realize her dream of becoming a city-base part-time farmer.
Jaipur and Kolkata calling
The model has been getting a good response from across India. And Shameek and his partners are planning to reach to those interested in this model. “We are working out a partnership with our partners in Jaipur. We have received many requests from the Pink City. We plan to launch Farmizen in Jaipur by the end of this year.”
What about his hometown Kolkata? “Well, my city does feature in the top ten city list. We do have plans to come here but to be honest the city is difficult to penetrate. And it still has access to better produces in comparison to other metro cities. If you want, you can find suppliers of really good organic produce on Kolkata, even now. And I have mentioned earlier, we will be taking Farmizen to all metro cities by the end of this year, so yes, we do have plans for Kolkata,” elaborated the Maniktalla boy.