If you can't donate blood, how about donating your sweat?

If you can

Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-03-08 09:49 Bengaluru: For Manohar Shekhar, 33, a software professional in Bengaluru, life mostly revolved around office. Seeking to do something more meaningful in his spare time, Manohar decided to try the Sweat Donation programme organised at Budanur, a village 5km from Mandya.“I am very keen on farming but have no clue about it. But this experience has been quite an eye-opener. I learnt how to clear weeds, prepare the land and till. Last week, I was involved in transplantation of paddy seedlings,” says Manohar, adding that he is keen to return to Budanur.An incipient organic movement in Mandya and its off-shoot are becoming hugely popular with many of Bengaluru's well-heeled, who are getting to learn the basics of farming and the hardships faced by farmers in a region notorious for farmers' suicides.Started by Madhuchandan SC, 39, a software engineer, Sweat Donation is an offshoot of Organic Mandya – an ambitious organic farm movement founded by Madhuchandan that is slowly gathering pace.Volunteers who sign up for the Sweat Donation programme have to toil by tilling and harvesting in agricultural fields to help farmers.Although he doesn’t have any experience in farming, Madhuchandan, who has his own software firm ‘Verifaya’ based out of California, decided to do something for farmers in his home district of Mandya. “I have seen youth from farming families migrating to cities in search of jobs but end up doing menial jobs as they wouldn’t have resources to continue farming. This triggered me to do set up Organic Mandya,” says Madhuchandan.The Organic Mandya - through its Mandya Organic Farmers Co-operative Society - identifies farmers in and around Budanur (5kms from Mandya) who are in need of help and provides volunteers on priority basis.“We charge a minimal fee (Rs 500) for volunteers and that’s only towards the food. Volunteers will be guided about the work (depending on the requirement) and will be assisted too, when in need,” says Nadia Saba, co-ordinator of Organic Mandya.Last week's sweat donation programme was held in a farmer’s field who didn’t have money to pay labourers. Volunteers, who were mostly techies, were taken to the farm and they were quite gung-ho about learning something new. “Such an arrangement not only bridges the gap between farmers and labourers but also creates an awareness about farmers’ life,” says Nadia. Volunteers can also work in farms being developed by Organic Mandya.But does this actually help farmers considering the programme is only a daylong event? Although it is not a quick-fix method, it definitely supports the poor farmer who cannot afford resources in his farm in terms of labourers for a day, says Madhuchandan.The initiative has been drawing people from all walks of life and has become quite a hit. Until last month, 17 sweat donation programmes were held and drew hundreds of volunteers.Apart from Sweat Donation, Organic Mandya also provides land on lease to cultivate. Interested individuals can take land on lease and cultivate any crop (that suits the soil) and take the produce home. If they are willing, they can sell the produce in the market or to Organic Mandya.Madhuchandan has helped many farmers turn organic through Mandya Organic Farmers Co-operative Society. There are now 400 members in the society who have gone completely organic and more are expected to follow. There is a quality control mechanism in place to assess the produce. “We want to make Mandya a chemical free district by 2020 without the government's help,” says Madhuchandan.“This is not a business but a small gesture towards sons of soil, who toil hard in the field to ensure we have a meal on our plate,” Madhuchandan says.Those who wish to take part, may get in touch with them on their FB page Organic Mandya or contact 91-9071091040.