Published On : Sun, Apr 9th, 2017

‘Where have the sparrows gone? I want to bring them back’ says Kirti, Professor turned Farmer


When you hold a simple brinjal or a sheaf of paddy in your hands that you have grown in your own farm with your own labour, the joy and the satisfaction you feel is boundless! It feels like a miracle… you realize then how bountiful this Earth is that you take for granted. For me nourishing her naturally, keeping poisons away is real Religion – all else is pretense.

Farming is not an activity in isolation, it affects all your thought process’ changes your entire life. I am so happy that I changed my path when I did!

As Kirti speaks, you can see the passion in her face and the conviction in her her voice.

She is a woman who gave up a cushy life of 15 years in academics to become a farmer.

Not an urban farmer mind you, who grows some vegetables in a few pots on the house terrace or a patch of land in the garden, but a proper farmer ploughing land in a village 55 Kms away from Nagpur. In a place called Maragsur that does not even have a high school yet!
She has built a house there and often spends the night there too, when farm work is at its peak, since she knows she can leave her two school going daughters in the care of her husband and in laws for a little while.

Making the Change

“You must be out of your mind, take a few days break you will feel better” commented her friends and her colleagues from college where she was teaching when she disclosed her plans to give up her teaching job and become a full time farmer.

Kirti Mangrulkar then had a job teaching Computer Science to college students. She had worked in Hislop College first and later joined City Premier college.

While in Hislop, she had been asked to ‘manage’ the Business Management department too as its Administrator. So conscientious is Kirti that she got herself an ‘MBA’ from the Open University studying in her free time so she could know herself what was taught in Management studies!

“Besides I was always fascinated with Economics and had planned to study it sometime…” says Kirti.

“It is coming in handy now, as a farmer. My Guru in agriculture, Advocate Manohar Parchure says ” the Indian farmer’s woes will not end till he does not learn Arithmetic! So he continues to spend more than what he earns!”

Her source of inspiration

The ‘One Straw Revolution’ written by Japanese author Masanobu Fukuoka was Kirti’s inspiration, plus the book Nisargayan written by Dilip Kulkarni.

Wrote Masanobu many years ago:

“Many people think that when we practice agriculture, nature is helping us in our efforts to grow food. This is an exclusively human-centered viewpoint… we should instead, realize that we are receiving that which nature decides to give us. A farmer does not grow something in the sense that he or she creates it. That human is only a small part of the whole process by which nature expresses its being. The farmer has very little influence over that process… other than being there and doing his or her small part.”

Masanobu too had given up a white collar job in Tokyo to become a paddy farmer in a village. He not only chose to become an ‘Organic’ farmer ( in a country that has seen not just a surfeit of chemicals but been the target of the world’s only used Atom Bombs, rejection of them is natural) but a ‘Nature farmer’. In the sense that he did not even sow the seeds methodically, just threw them onto the land, then did not flood the farm as many farmers do, used no chemical fertilizers or pesticides yet in a few years his harvest of paddy equaled and surpassed the best farmer’s of Japan!

Kirti Mangrulkar had begun feeling the ‘pull of the soil’ for some years now – she had been on the quest, attending talks by Futanes, visiting fairs like Beejotsav when she heard about this book. Buying it and reading it changed her outlook and showed her what she had to do. Specially these lines:

“I believe that a revolution can begin from this one strand of straw. Seen at a glance, this rice straw may appear light and insignificant. Hardly anyone would believe that it could start a revolution. But I have come to realize the weight and power of this straw. For me, this revolution is very real.”

Kirti’s revolution began from there. With blessings from her husband Mangesh who is in a high profile Corporate job in Nagpur, and complete support from her in laws and two daughters Rasika and Ragini, Kirti first bought some land in Zilpi village.

Later her sister, a friend and she decided to pool their farms together and do co operative farming so she shifted to Maragsur. Between them, they have 14 acres of land and they grow Jowar, Bajra, Tur, Ambadi, Til, some beans and vegetables.

“I like to work on the farm myself too, not just depend on hired labour. Though we do not use chemicals at all, we are always experimenting with natural substances like Neem, Green chillies, butter milk, tobacco etc. which make excellent pest repellents.”

They have not turned ‘profitable’ yet but she says ” give the land some time to rejuvenate, then we shall definitely turn the corner too!”

She is sure of her inputs – beginning with pure, natural seeds – our heirloom seeds, not commercial hybrids.

She is very convinced about the veracity of – As you sow so shall you reap.

As she said earlier, it is not just about agriculture. Growing right food is the first step to eating right. And eating right holds the key to leading a healthy life and preventing ‘life style’ diseases like hypertension, diabetes, liver ailments and many others.

Natural farming will also prevent further pollution and poisoning of our land, air and water, she says.

It could be a Win – win situation for everyone.

And we could also bring the sparrows back!


Sunita Mudaliar
Associate Editor