Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Farming
It was a proud moment for me to be dressed in Dhoti, our traditional attire and address the Rotary Meeting. This was the last meeting under the leadership of the current President of the Club and he wanted this talk to be a special one. I chose a topic that is not only unique but also one that’s close to my heart: Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Farming.
Wasting Food is Easy. Producing it is so Damn Hard: There are many times I have plonked in way too much food on my plate, way more than I could eat. I would empty the uneaten food in the bin without any remorse. It’s only after I started growing paddy at our farm did I fully realize the extent of work it takes. Planning, Ploughing, Seed germination, Transplanting, weeding, fertilizing, harvesting, thrashing, dehusking, packaging and selling. And this is just for one cycle of a crop. Now, my family and I are a lot more sensitive to our food. When we go to a buffet, subconsciously, we only serve food that we can finish.
Don’t Lose Long-term Vision for Short-term Benefits: About a decade ago, there was a construction boom and a huge demand for bricks. The price of bricks had shot up and my Dad decided to capitalize on the demand to make a quick buck. He hired brick makers to make bricks and sold them for a decent profit. Little did he realize that this short-sighted move will haunt us for many years to come. You see, the most fertile part of the land is the first one feet of soil. When that was dug up and used for baking bricks, the land lost its fertility. We are paying the price for it even now. Plants grow very slowly and we are painstakingly trying to regenerate the fertility of the soil which unfortunately will take us a few decades to catch up.
There is No Perfect Land. You get a Land and you Make it Perfect: A few of my friends who have an interest in farming are on the look out for buying farm land. One common thing I have noticed among them is that it takes a very long gestation period before they settle on one. They spend many months and in some cases, even a few years, before they nail the perfect piece. One strong realization that I’ve had is that the real joy lies in making the land the place of your dreams. It’s the time you spend with the land that gives you greater joy than the land itself. The journey is better than the destination.
The Importance of Being Idle: I host a leadership podcast show titled, ‘Movers and Shakers’ at The Hindu Businessline and this gives me an opportunity to meet with achievers. During the conversation, I’m always curious to learn the tips and techniques that made them successful. In addition to the cliched answers like hard work and focus, I also get very unique ones. Like this one: Just Do Nothing! Whaaat?! Yes, Sridhar Vembu, the founder of Zoho, said he does not believe in working for long hours. He stressed the importance of down time where one does nothing. This time is needed for thinking and ideation. Daydreaming is actually good. When I go to my farm during the weekends, I mix working in the fields and also take the time to relax. Some of my best ideas come when I simply lie down and think.