TEDxGateway 2018! Dnyaneshwar Bodke: The visionary farmer behind Abhinav Farmers Club
Dnyaneshwar Bodke sowed the seeds of Abhinav Farmers Club and introduced the polyhouse farming concept along with helping farmers make profits by growing a variety of crops. Today, the club includes 250 groups across only the 30 districts of Maharashtra and has over 1,56,000 farmer members all over India.

Then and now
“We are a farmer family, so from childhood, I’ve learnt farming and observed that our efforts yield no returns. Additionally, once the crop hits the market the middleman ate all the profits. After years of losses, I took up an office boy’s job to support my family. Around 1998, I read about a Sangli farmer who had made his fortune in floriculture. Wanting to follow in his footsteps, I worked for free for a year to gain experience. I then raised a loan mortgaging my farms and plunged into floriculture. And we paid back the loan with the profits left over. People noticed; my success story was also published and farmers came seeking help, just as I had done once.”

Abhinav Farmers Club
“Soon I realised it was time to become a collective and Abhinav Farmers Club was born, in 2004. Our main aims were to teach and aid our community in purchase of raw goods in bulk, growth of crop, marketing and transportation of the produce. Our commitment to farmers was a sustainable farming business and direct marketing of their produce and to our consumers, pure and organic produce. Today, our club has a list of 118 items including fruits, vegetables, milk and milk produce. Also, we cut out the middleman. As a collective, we approach end-consumers through farmers markets and retailers and hotels to supply fresh produce directly. That way, the price is fair and the profits stay within the community.”

Organic meets technology
“It is the only way to farm without harming the soil and health of the consumers. We need to get back to the simple and basic ways that are also inexpensive and yet effective, to be truly organic and sustainable. The Green Revolution came to India on the back of chemical farming. My question to technology is: Why can’t you equip organic farming to yield higher produce to provide food for all at the same time? My son, a student of mechanical engineering, uses his knowledge to create power tillers to remedy labour issues, and we use hydroponics to grow healthy, cheap fodder for our livestock. Technology has to think like a farmer, and only then can it help us.”

Core message
“Governments should help us with infrastructure-roads for transportation, electricity and markets. It is a basic right for all but important to our vocation. Help us recover our production costs and make a profit enough to make farming sustainable for the community at large.”

Achievements

Bodke started the Abhinav Farmers Club to help farmers by specialisation in floriculture and exotic vegetables. This is a national award-winning farming initiative. He has helped thousands of farmers across India.

(This 10th edition of the TEDxGateway sees over 20+ speakers from different walks of life sharing unique ideas that make them an inspiration the world over. Over 5500 attendees are slated to attend this feast of ideas and inspiration on December 2 at DOME @ NSCI Mumbai.)

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