Agri Business

IAS officer-turned entrepreneur calls for sustainable homestead farming

Our Bureau Kochi | Updated on June 06, 2021

C Balagopal, former IAS officer and founder of Terumo Penpol, India’s largest blood bag manufacturer.

The homestead enterprise model involves various practices, including agriculture, poultry, and dairy, engaging family labour and not hiring one.

With urbanisation creating more environmental issues, it is time we look forward to unique rural models to progress towards a sustainable, carbon-neutral society, said C Balagopal, former IAS officer and founder of Terumo Penpol, India’s largest blood bag manufacturer.

Delivering the 19th edition of the ‘Beyond Square Feet’ Lecture organised on the World Environment Day by Asset Homes here, Balagopal said that time has come to promote the unique homestead farming, which not only sustains the rural population economically but also finds a way forward for better protection of the environment.

“We are living in an age when increased urbanisation has created enough and more problems and challenges. India has currently 60 cities with more than one million populations and this number is increasing due to rapid urbanisation. People are in the habit of moving from rural to urban areas in search of livelihood. Therefore, our task is to promote rural livelihood and rural employment. When such initiatives become community-oriented, they become all the more vibrant. Homestead farming is community-oriented,” he said.

Homestead farming

Homestead farming reverses the thinking that fragmented landholdings are unsustainable. “An Amul model is already there to make it sustainable not only by procuring the product but also supporting the farmers in various ways,” he said, adding corporate farming, on the other hand, would complicate issues. Both corporate farming and monoculture in large tracts promote the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, he pointed out.

Anaha Trust, piloted by him and his wife, is now focusing on promoting homestead farming in Wayanad, which is considered a biodiversity hotspot in the country. “All economic activities are leaving an environmental impact not only on Wayanad, but everywhere and by planting more crops, we can offset that,” he added.

Homestead farming involves a variety of farming practices, including agriculture, poultry, and dairy, and these should be called homestead enterprises which are propped up by family labour and not hired labour. A student in the home will play a supportive role, and a homemaker too plays a key role in this enterprise.

Anaha has created a producer aggregator platform for the smooth flow of products in limited quantities from individual producers to the consumer to get the correct prices, and the A-Hope mobile platform has been made to support it. “We have tied up with an organisation called mByom for the project in Wayanad and it's giving some encouraging results,” he said.

Post the pandemic, he said the disintegration of workspaces into work from home has shown disintegration makes more economic sense not only in IT but in other sectors too. Homestead farming finds its space here too. There are concepts like tree mortgage to support homesteads, he said, adding LSGs, research institutions, banks, and the government should come forward to support homestead farming.

Sunil Kumar V., Managing Director, Asset Homes, also spoke. Asset Homes has been organising the Beyond Square Feet lecture series thrice every year on world environment, water and habitat days.

Published on June 06, 2021

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