Nuruddin Solanki hard at work at his farms in Virdi Village

As the demand for consumer goods continues to rise in many parts of the world, access to nutritious food is becoming more of a challenge with each passing day. This challenge needs to be tackled at its grassroots level by educating farmers about sustainable farming practices. Addressing food availability and access will require helping farmers by equipping them with the necessary tools and skills needed to increase their yields and the quality of their produce.

Tijarat Rabeha is a department within the Dawoodi Bohra community’s administration that helps empower businesses through thought leadership and providing sustainable business solutions. From industry to agriculture, it helps community members realise their potential through entrepreneurial thinking which ultimately helps boost both individual prospects as well as the economy at large. To that end, the department has been helping community farmers improve their yields through sustainable methods of farming.

Idrees Hashemi, a department head says, ‘There are three major advocacies that we have undertaken to help improve the overall yields of farmers:

  1. Organic farming – to increase soil fertility and quality of produce by relinquishing the use of chemical fertilisers.
  2. Alternative crop growth – to increase the margin of profit.
  3. Usage of technology & improving soil fertility – through drip irrigation, mulching and introducing modern farming techniques, etc.’

Shifting from established norms and adopting new methods requires patience but the department is optimistic that its plans, devised through years of empirical research, will help improve farmers’ yields as well as the sustainability of soil in the long term.

Nuruddin Solanki is a certified organic farmer from the village of Virdi near Pisawada (Gujarat) – a predominantly agricultural belt – and a passionate advocate and practitioner of organic farming. Proactive, with an eye toward the future, Solanki has invested his time, resources and energy for the past seven years in practicing the organic model of farming at a time when farmers around him continue to use fertilisers on their crops.

Various organically grown plantations at Noor Farms.

Having acquired basic instruction about organic farming at Anand university, Solanki got convinced that this was the sustainable model of the future and started its application at his one hectare ‘Noor Farm’ in Virdi.

‘It was difficult in the beginning as it (organic farming) requires more hard work, but I was convinced that it is a better option than using chemical fertilisers and pesticides as the latter erodes the soil and produces a lower quality of harvest.’ says Solanki.

Over the course of these years, Solanki has witnessed the wisdom inherent in the adage ‘hard work pays off’ and is reaping the fruits of his efforts. His buyers are willing to pay handsomely for the quality crop he produces.

For Solanki it is a multi-dimensional approach in farming, i.e. it is not just about harvesting and making money, but also about maintaining soil fertility, improving irrigation, making organic compost at home, etc. He firmly believes that one should take the higher road of producing good quality harvest and not compromise by taking shortcuts in the form of spraying fertilisers to earn short-term profits.

Each stage through which a grain of food passes: from tilling, sowing, growth, harvest and ultimately reaching the consumer’s plate, reminds us of the intricate and complex processes involved in feeding the Earth’s population. This World Food Day, we commemorate the efforts of the department of Tijarat Rabeha in helping farmers embrace sustainable farming practices and honour the likes of Nuruddin Solanki who uphold the good quality of their produce through organic farming techniques. They truly are our ‘Food Heroes’.