A millionaire marigold farmer from West Bengal, Assam's organic farmer who saves native seeds, the impact of climate change on women's health in Sundarbans, and Meghalaya's hidden canyon are all part of our newsletter this week.
Over the years, I have noticed a rising trend towards quitting studies or jobs to pursue one’s passion. This could be farming, entrepreneurship, or simply reviving a dying art or craft. Two of our stories this week go on to show that the key to success is to work hard and follow your heart.
I spoke to Arup Kumar Ghosh, a marigold farmer in West Bengal. The 32-year-old dropped out of college after the second year to sell flowers. He worked at a shop in Hyderabad for three months and then at a seed enterprise in Thailand to learn the A to Z of the flower business.
Today, he sells marigold seeds and saplings worth Rs4 crore every year. He also owns 13 flower shops in Kolaghat and Howrah, which he has set up to employ underprivileged youth. He does not take revenues from there. His journey from a college dropout to a marigold millionaire is one of hard work, passion and persistence. Do look it up.
My colleague Riya spoke to Assam’s seed saver Neelam Dutta, who began organic farming when he was 18. Realising that organic seeds are crucial for farming, he started collecting them in 2008.
Neelam could not pursue graduation as his father passed away and he had to take up farming at a young age. But that did not stop him from conserving seeds of 800 types of native vegetables and 200 varieties of indigenous paddy.
His venture Pabhoi Greens now sells native seeds and empowers farmers through free training in seed conservation. He has trained 20,000 farmers so far.
This week, we have another story from West Bengal. My colleague Partho travelled to Sundarbans, a cluster of low-lying islands in the Bay of Bengal where the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers converge.
Repeated cyclones and rising salinity levels in Sundarbans have led men to abandon farming and migrate for work. Women, forced to take up fishing for livelihood, are developing reproductive problems due to prolonged exposure to waist-deep saline water. Do read this piece. It shows how underprivileged communities are the worst affected by climate change.