Agricultural Hero: Chukki Nanjundaswamy

Image credit: Courtesy of Giulio Napolitano, FAO

Agricultural Hero: Chukki Nanjundaswamy

For many decades, farmers in India have been fighting for their rights. From seed sovereignty against multinational agricultural companies causing dependence on chemicals to climate change, growers struggle to survive. Farmers go into massive debt each year because they have no access to the banking credit system, and free trade has made it impossible for them to get a fair price for their products. As a result, more than a quarter-million farmers have committed suicide. Chukki Nanjundaswamy, following in her father’s footsteps, decided to do something about it.

To help rural farmers, Professor Mahantha Devaru Nanjundaswamy founded Amrita Bhoomi. Meaning ‘eternal life,’ this agricultural school brings farmers together to fight for their rights and learn sustainable practices. Chukki Nanjundaswamy has continued her father’s legacy, bringing his vision for the center to life. As a chairperson, she has created a space for farmers to build models of autonomy where they can explore how to restructure food production based on new technologies.

Image credit: Courtesy of Giulio Napolitano, FAO

The school promotes farmer-to-farmer agroecology training in rural communities. Expert growers teach sustainable practices that restore soil fertility, increase nutrition, boost community health and overall wellbeing. Amrita Boomi currently has models in agroforestry, seed production, medicinal plants, and zero-carbon farming. Natural, chemical-free materials are used in the process to nourish seeds and soil, such as cow manure and urine.

As a leader in the farmer’s movement in Karnataka, India, Nanjundaswamy advocates for growers and their right to learn. Spread over 66 acres, Amrita Bhoomi hosts multiple model agroecology farms, an auditorium that can fit 250 people, and training centers with classrooms. They have inspired over 100,000 farmers to transition from chemical to agroecological farming. Amrita Bhoomi is a hub for the next generation of farmers, teaching everything from modern consumer marketing to traditional knowledge focusing on women and youth.

Nanjundaswamy brings back pride in local farming, helping growers realize their importance. Agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gases emissions and chemical pollutants.  By switching to sustainable practices, an incredible impact can be made on the climate crisis. Through the work of Amrita Bhoomi, Nanjundaswamy’s goal is to scale and reach more farmers across South Asia. The program has successfully replicated its farming models in Sri Lanka and Nepal. Nanjundaswamy’s work showcases that a prosperous, equitable, and environmentally sustainable future is attainable.

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