After he completed Class X, S. Dinesh of Suragondanahalli, about 150 km from Bengaluru, left his village to work in a public telephone booth in the bustling capital. For the next 10 years, he would change many jobs. But his salary grew minimally, from ₹850 to a few thousands. “I worked hard, sometimes from 4 a.m. to late in the night, but at the end of the month, I was left with little money.”
That was when Dinesh noticed a news report on progressive farmers in Karnataka’s Mandya district, who had given up jobs in Bengaluru to take up farming in their village. “I was inspired by their story and decided to return to my village too,” he says.
Today, Dinesh’s business produces some 130 litres of organic milk a day and his bank account is credited with nearly ₹1.2 lakh every month. “Earlier, I remember when I went to a bank to open a savings account, the officials hesitated to even hand me an application form,” he says. Much has changed since: recently, a bank manager, who happened to visit his village, met him to offer a loan.
Against the tide
Dinesh is one of scores of young men in Karnataka who are swimming against a demographic tide, moving back to their villages after a stint in the city. And many of them, especially in the southern taluks of Tiptur, Arasikere, Kaduru and Chikkanayakanahalli, have taken up the production of organic milk.
B.N. Vasanth Kumar has a Mechanical Diploma. He worked for meagre wages in a factory outlet in Bengaluru’s Peenya Industrial Layout. In 2011, Kumar and his wife Poornima, who has a Masters in mathematics, returned to their village Bommalapura in Tumkur district to set up a dairy, where they now earn about ₹90,000 a month.