On March 20, we made a small beginning with a kickoff event in the corner of small three acre farm in Ramnagara district about 70 kilometres from Bengaluru. Sitting comfortably in the shade of a coconut tree that was dutifully protecting us from the midday sun, we asked a group of farmers what their challenges were.
The first remark did not surprise us, "Agriculture is not a viable occupation anymore, we may need to look at other employment opportunities soon." The farmer elaborated by saying that the rising costs of inputs did not allow him to make much of a profit anymore, especially given the low yields in his farm. Another farmer mentioned how the rewards of agriculture are not in the hands of the farmer anymore. He spoke about how the prices of tomatoes fluctuate wildly, and how it was impossible for him to estimate how much his tomatoes would fetch them in the market. A long part of the discussion was around access to water, and how without the security of having enough water, it was futile to even attempt farming.
We spent much of the afternoon listening, seldom speaking or expressing our point of view. Our single point agenda from the event was to truly understand the problems faced by a farmer. This is important for us because at Purple Chilli we firmly believe that agriculture should provide a decent and dependable source of livelihood for farmers. With this thought, we begin our work tomorrow morning.