The American Dream
Till August 2014, Madhu Chandan was living the American dream, a life of comfort and ease with his wife and daughter in San Jose, California. He travelled the world, worked for 15 years with various companies and became the cofounder of a company in San Jose, USA. He had the world at his feet as the product he designed for this company had become a leader in the field.
He used to frequently come to Bangalore where his company’s R&D center was located. While in Bangalore, he noticed that many low earning individuals like cab drivers, maids, security guards were from his hometown, Mandya. What started to bother him was that these people were the sons and daughters of farmers, who used to live a healthy, wealthy lifestyle in the past, but now have been succumbed to life in poverty. His visits to Mandya (it used to be India's one of the richest districts), unfolded a disturbing trend of youth migrating to cities, reducing life expectancy, and increasing farmer suicides.
He had a different dream about his native place. He convinced his family and moved from the US back to Mandya in the year 2014.
Getting Back to Roots!
Madhu made some rather disturbing observations about the farming practices and how it impacted the farmers. Chemical-based farming had robbed the farmer of his sustainability, natural competence and led them to poverty. The consumers of these chemical laced agri produce had led them into dwindled life expectancy, terminal diseases like cancer etc. Madhu felt that it was time to change the perspective and return to rich, ancestral sustainable practices.
In 2015, he started a game changing social movement called “Organic Mandya” in his home district Mandya. Organic Mandya was born with an intention to uplift the marginal farmers and to make his district chemical free by 2020.
To build confidence for the organic farmers he and his friends started the world’s first “Organic Supermarket” in Mandya, and it became an instant hit. Farmers started trusting him and came in large numbers to see the world's first “Organic Supermarket”.
Madhu thought it was time to collect all these farmers under one Umbrella and so he formed “Mandya Organic Farmers Cooperative Society” in 2015. He went to villages giving awareness about the issues of chemical food, organised weekly free training programs and he started about 300+ Organic Farmers Self Help Group in Mandya. And since he wanted to take the entire farmer household into Organic practices, he gathered women farmers under Woman's Kitchen Garden Self Help Group and today there are about 220+ Women's groups! Likewise, he took along youths under Kabaddi groups and has formed more than 60 youth teams in Mandya district. Today Organic Mandya Umbrella consists of about 12,000 farmers which is one of the biggest Organic Farmers Group in the world.
He kept City Folks appraised of these changes in Mandya by organising a unique program called “Sweat Donation”. Under this program, city folks visit farmers field for a day, help the farmer family with their agricultural activities, lunch with them and learn about the social fabric of the village. This activity made a direct connection between the farmers and the city folks.
More and more city folks started to buy Organic produce and he started to expand the Organic Supermarkets into the Bangalore City.
The Path Ahead
Today he has created hundreds of jobs and thousands of Organic Farmers in Mandya and Bangalore.
More and more youths are returning to towards agriculture and the awareness of good food, sustainability has taken more precedence than ever before. Organic Mandya is the most trusted Clean Food brand in Karnataka and people across India buy from them on a regular basis.
The Mandya district has seen the highest number of farmer suicides in Karnataka the last few years, mainly due to debt. With his arrival, people see a glimmer of hope, it’s possible to pull agriculture sector of Mandya out of the morass it is in. They want to propagate his ideas, scale up his model and spread the goodies to the whole region.
The Central Government recognised his achievements in the field of Agriculture and has nominated him as Management Committee Member, Indian Council of Agricultural Research.