Engineering a life close to nature

Gaurishankar

Is it possible for a city lad, who has no rural background, to start farming afresh and succeed in it? Hard to believe, isn’t it? But a 30-year-old postgraduate, Gourishankar Basavaraj Karoshi from Dharwad, has successfully veered off the beaten path. 

After completing his Master’s in biotechnological engineering at North Carolina State University, USA, Gourishankar decided to start an eco-friendly venture, which was his childhood dream. He returned to India with the aim of launching a  biodiesel start-up in his hometown. When he realised that the atmosphere was not conducive for such an initiative, he zeroed in on dairy farming.

His father was a banker and farming was new to the family. Obviously, his parents were not happy with his decision. But when he stood firm, his father gave in and supported him to purchase a 2.5-acre agricultural land near Managundi village, located 10 km away from Dharwad.

In 2014, he set up a dairy farm and invested Rs 16 lakh, which was spent on constructing a cowshed, drilling a borewell and fencing the field. Gourishankar started with just three cattle and the number has now increased to 50. Apart from local breeds, various other breeds of cow and buffalo, such as murrah and jaffarabadi, are also reared here.

“My objective is to develop an eco-friendly venture that provides healthy food to the society. This encouraged me to take up agriculture as my career,” Gourishankar reveals. “Agriculture is not an easy job. We can’t expect more returns in less time like other businesses or a steady salary like corporate or government jobs. But, it is more profitable in terms of healthy lifestyle and good quality food.” 

Initially, he used to tend to the cattle on his own. At present, five persons work with him. Over time, Gourishankar has become an expert in dairy farming to such an extent that he ably treats cattle whenever they suffer from minor health problems. He also shares useful information with the farmers who visit his farm.

A step ahead

What sets his initiative apart is his effort to brand milk and sell it directly to the consumers. Milk is packed at his dairy unit under the name ‘Nisarga’, and every day, about 90 litres of cow and buffalo milk is supplied to the houses in Dharwad at Rs 45 and Rs 62 per litre respectively. Around 75 to 80 customers purchase this milk which is available in half-litre and one-litre packets.

S D Patil, who buys this milk regularly, says, “We get natural and healthy milk without the intervention of any middlemen or company. The quality is also another aspect that has made us stick to ‘Nisarga’.”

Gouri Hiremath, another customer, says, “Gourishankar supplies milk from his farm to the customers’ homes directly and doesn’t stock it. That is why the milk is better compared to other brands. The milk is also tasty and healthy because of organic farming methods used. One has to encourage such an effort. So, I prefer to purchase milk from his dairy unit though it is a bit costly.”

Gourishankar has taken up complementary activities like cattle breeding and production of vermicompost to sustain and even make a profit in dairy farming. Along with vermicompost, he also sells cattle urine, which is used as a biopesticide.

In the field, Gourishankar has grown a variety of crops, both horticulture and forest species, like pomegranate, coconut, banana, jackfruit, lemon, sapota, guava, mango, teak, silver oak, neem, mahogany, along with vegetables. In addition to his 2.5-acre land, he has taken one acre on a lease. All the crops are grown without any chemical inputs. While he grows grass fodder in the field, Gourishankar purchases jowar and wheat fodder from other farmers.

He intends to start a goat and desi chicken farm near the cattle shed soon. Through mechanisation, he has lessened the physical burden on humans. Some of the equipment used here include a chaff cutter, brush cutter, compost screener and mini tiller. 

Terrace garden

As an outcome of his experiments and experience in farming, Gourishankar has developed a garden on the terrace of his house in Dharwad, where he grows vegetables. Gourishankar is also associated with Daisika, a sustainable ecosystem private limited, which aims to supply toxic-free food to consumers.

According to Gourishankar, feeding and breeding cattle, and marketing milk are the main challenges in dairy farming. Farming also demands a lot of physical work and often poses unexpected challenges. Gourishankar too has faced ups and downs and has learnt in the process. However, dedication and love towards the occupation have made him keep going.

Many youngsters have been inspired by Gourishankar and are planning to return to rural roots and lead a self-reliant life. He advises that one should explore and understand the nuances of agriculture and related activities before taking up one. Involvement is essential for agriculture while investment is primary as in all other occupations. But the difficulties evaporate as we get reap the fruits of hard work and dedication, Gourishankar feels. “I have no regrets about my choice.” One can contact Gourishankar at gourish444@gmail.com.

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