Venkat Iyer was living a fast-paced life in the IT world in Mumbai when he decided to stop and take a long, hard look at where he was headed. Disheartened by his stressful existence in the city, he decided to give it up and take up organic farming in a small village near Mumbai. “The book Moong over Microchips is the story of my transition from an urban techie to an organic farmer living in a village. It was a world of unknowns and my new journey was fraught with uncertainty. Starting from scratch, I was excited with my first bumper crop of moong but soon from negotiating tough clients, strict deadlines and city traffic I was up against erratic weather and power, unpredictable harvests and poisonous snakes. This book describes my transformation to a life engaged with nature,” explains Venkat about his book.
When he quit his job and decided to move to a village, his ex-colleagues were keen on knowing what he was doing and how he was managing the transition. “What started as a series of regular e-mail updates soon caught on, with more people who were interested in knowing my experiences. Many who read my e-mails suggested that I compile my experiences into a book which would benefit a larger audience. They liked my writing style and would remind me if my updates were delayed. This encouraged me to start work on the book. It wasn’t until late 2009 that I started writing the book,” he says about his book published by Penguin Random House.
You can find interesting stories of villagers in the book. There is the story of ‘a man who hated banks’’ and ‘the demon of demonetisation. “Staying at the farm we had our fair share of events with animals and some of them are in the book like “The hissing cobra” and “Allahrakha” the owl story. The other thing that hits you when you stay in a rural setting is the rampant corruption all around. Some of my experiences in dealing with corruption are also mentioned in the book,” adds Venkat.
Soon after buying the land, he realised that unlike software, farming does not come with well-written manuals or a convenient F1 help button. It has to be practised for years and learnt directly from Nature itself. “When I started my transition to the village and was struggling to learn about agriculture, I realised that there are a lot of books on agriculture but hardly any on the lived experiences of people who had moved from the urban setting to a rural setting. I did meet a lot of people who had moved from the city to a village and were managing the new life. During the last few years, I have been asked by many people who are thinking of starting farming or migrating back to the village to share my experiences. This book is an attempt to share my learning and experiences of staying in a village and farming,” he explains.
Like a seasoned farmer, Venkat says that one of the first lessons he learnt was that every crop does not grow everywhere. “Each crop was dependant on the soil conditions, the temperature, the humidity in the air and the water content. What did well in one area will not necessarily grow in our area. Also, the selection process is a slow activity,” the author proudly states.
As a parting note he makes it clear that this book is not an attempt to write a manual on agriculture neither is it a complete set of experiences one may go through while moving from the city to a village.