Hemanth Kumar Reddy Mukka worked in the agrochemical industry in India for seven years, selling fertilizers and pesticides to farmers. Now he is a student in MUM’s Regenerative Organic Agriculture Certificate Program. When asked about what inspired him to give up his job and come halfway around the world to study organic agriculture, he said:
“Every time I talked to farmers, they just worried about pests and sprayed what we gave them without knowing about its effect on the environment. They needed to survive and they didn’t have a choice. I didn’t have any alternatives to offer them.”
Hemanth earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and an MBA and pursued a job in agriculture because he wanted to help farmers. But he realized it was time to offer more sustainable solutions. “We need to protect our environment, our soil, and our living organisms,” he said. “If conventional farming continues the way it’s going, we may not have any resources left for the next generation.”
Hemanth was able to enroll at MUM with the help of a full scholarship from the Sarojini Damodaran Foundation, established by Mr. and Mrs. Shibulal. Mr. S.D. Shibulal is one of the co-founders of the global IT giant Infosys. The Foundation offers assistance for higher education and organic farming and collaborates with the Regenerative Organic Agriculture Program (ROAP) at MUM by offering ten full scholarships to economically challenged students from India.
Now that he is learning about biological pest control and soil regeneration, Hemanth feels he is gaining the knowledge and skills necessary for starting his own organic farm when he returns to India.
“Hemanth is an intelligent student performing well in the class,” said Professor Appachanda Thimmaiah, head of ROAP. “He is keen on understanding regenerative organic agriculture concepts and practices. The nine-month certificate course will be a great learning experience for him to inspire the conventional farmers in India to transition into regenerative farming practices.”
Hemanth enjoys the hands-on, practical nature of the program and the benefits of the Transcendental Meditation®technique. “After practicing for a month, I already have more energy and focus,” he said. “Transcendental Meditation is very good for staying effective the whole day.”
Even though starting an organic farm is challenging, the increasing trends and growing government support towards sustainable agriculture in India keep Hemanth optimistic. “It’s not about the money,” he says, “it’s about saving the planet.”