Today, young educated people leave their villages to work in big cities in search of exposure and opportunities. However, Girindra Nath Jha chose to do just the opposite.
After working in cities like Delhi and Kanpur for 12 years, he gave it all away to start his life afresh as a farmer in a small village in Bihar. Today, he is revolutionising the way farming is done in his area. He has been running a famous agricultural blog for over nine years, which upholds environmental concerns, farm issues, and most importantly, educates farmers on better ways of farming.
His writings and activism has helped promote rural tourism in his area and also helped small farmers in implementing modern technologies, increasing their yield, and making their lives better.
Girindra is from Chanka, a small village in Purnea district of Bihar. After finishing his schooling in Purnea, he shifted to Delhi to pursue his higher education. He was interested in history and economics. Even today, he combines the two subjects of his interest to bring perspective in his writings, as he believes that “the best tool to understand human history in economics.”
After finishing his graduation in economics from Satyawati College (Delhi University) in the year 2006, he obtained a fellowship from the Center for the Study of Developing Society (CSDS). He went on to study journalism for the next three years and shifted to Kanpur after his marriage. Girindra, a skilled journalist and a writer, started working for a national newspaper in Kanpur.
Girindra always wanted to return to his village and work at the grass-root level. Soon, his father was taken ill and he had to return to his village to take care of him. During his stay in his village, he realised that everything he could do from the city was possible from his village too, and decided to settle down here. In June 2012, he shifted back to Chanka permanently.
His village Chanka is 25 km away from the main town of Purnea, where Girindra has today established himself as a farmer, an educator, and a blogger. There is ample infrastructure to support him. He laughs as he says “Bihar is not the same place people believe it is.”
Girindra started his new life as a farmer. To increase the yield from his farms, he started dual cropping, a form of polyculture, where two crops are grown on same piece of land during a single growing season. He merged plantations of paddy, corn, and potatoes with Kadamba trees. While the timber from Kadamba trees could be used to make plywood, the leaves from these trees served as natural manure for his fields. This helped him make good profits from his yield and promote organic farming in the area at the same time.
Inspired from Girindra’s success, many other farmers in and around Purnea have started implementing dual cropping techniques, which today, has become a trend here. Farmers of Chanka village are guiding more farmers to improve crop yield and a subsequently their lives.
Girindra continues advocating the need to do away with GMO and pesticides. He is a crusader for organic farming and provides training to farmers on different organic farming procedures. He believes that farmers whose work primarily depends on collaboration and knowledge exchange should become more comfortable with information technology. With decent mobile connectivity, farmers can easily exchange information and knowledge, which in turn, can prove to be a game changer for the agricultural community in India.
Girindra is best known as a blogger. He started his blog ‘Anubhav’ in the year 2006 and has been actively running it since. Through this blog, Girindra has been speaking about rural Bihar and its activities from a farmer’s perspective. His blog has received awards from a prominent news channel and the Delhi Government for upholding agricultural issues and educating farmers alike. His articles frequently make it to prominent Hindi newspapers. Girindra is an author too, and his first book is currently under publication. Girindra says –
“If someone can make good use of social media, it can be really helpful for farmers. There are no restrictions here. You need not live in Delhi to be able to voice your concern. I stay hundreds of kilometres away from any big city, yet I am able to do everything I would have done otherwise.”
Girindra has made useful videos on different aspects of agriculture and encourages other farmers to do the same. Through these videos, they have been helping farmers from across the country in learning better techniques of irrigation, creation of manure, handlingpests, enhancementof farm produce, and quality of their yield. Farmers have been adapting their methods and benefiting from this collective knowledge.
Girindra says, “Social media is a powerful tool today, and can be used in a good way to spread awareness among the agricultural community.” Last year in December, he had organised a social media workshop where farmers from different villages had participated and learnt the basic skills of using their mobile phones to collaborate and learn from each other. He is planning a similar meetup again this year in December.
Using the power of social media and internet, Girindra has been able to reach out to agricultural experts from across the world and learn from their experiences. Apart from people from across India, researchers from US and Australia have also visited his village to learn from the farmers and understand their ways of farming. According to Girindra, in the past two years, over a hundred visitors from across the world have visited Chanka.
Girindra says, “We welcome these visitors as our own family members. They live with us, and enjoy homemade local cuisine with us. We take them around the village, where they learn farming techniques, our culture, and lifestyle. Those interested, even enjoy clicking pictures of the beautiful countryside and people here.”
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