Gowda saw a bright light at the end of the tunnel and plunged full time into farming
The tale of Gurunath Gowda is not only inspiring but is certain to be an ‘eye opener’ to the people in power.
In his early teens, Gurunath Gowda lost his vision entirely. Now, this 62-year-old, from Sorabtaluk in Shivamogga district in Karnataka, is today a successful farmer with ten acres of commercial crop. He has been able to achieve success by hard work, sheer tenacity, and the loving support of his family and friends.
Gowda comes from a family of agriculturists, and was interested in farming even as a child. “I used to listen to a radio programme on farming every day,” he says. “They spoke about using various chemicals in the fertilisers.”
When he chose to cultivate his in a small parcel of land in 1981, he recalled these lessons. He chose the commercial crops carefully and to Fay, his farmland has areca, pineapple, papaya and pepper. He has maintained an independent livelihood and does not look for support from anyone, be it individuals or the government.
Gurunath Gowda’s early days were a struggle but he ploughed on with tenacity and loving support from all. “It was not an easy ride”, says Gowda. He lost his eyesight due to a defect in his eye since birth and lack of proper medical care in his native village.
His father did his best to get his son his vision. He took him to renowned ophthalmologist Dr MC Modi for treatment of his affected eye. As a child, Gowda had a vision in one eye. Dr Modi advised that Gowda undergo an operation when he turned 16.
Later, in the 1970’s, Gowda’s healthy eye began to deteriorate and he had to quit school when he was in Class IX. Gowda then decided to pursue music studies. “I trained for years under maestro Pandit Puttaraju Gawai,” says Gowda.
His goal was to be recognised at the national level. But he gave it up and returned home when he realised that most students were learning music to earn their living. Incidentally, Shivamogga has given to the nation many well known Hindustani musicians.
In 1975, Gowda travelled to Kolhapur in Maharashtra where he underwent an eye operation. His father had passed away by then. While Gowda was recovering from the operation, which was done during Diwali, a sudden shock seems to have damaged his eye. “A loud cracker sound damaged my retina,” says Gowda, adding, “I lost vision in both the eyes.”
These circumstances would have broken the spirit of most people, but not Gowda’s. He decided to start farming in 1981. His first crop was areca. And, in 1984, he also decided to start a business and approached Karnataka State Financial Corporation for a loan. The loan was sanctioned and Gowda started a flour mill, which he managed on his own.
He managed the mill for 22 long years, but ultimately had to close down. Gowda says, “There were very few consumers of wheat and roti in Malnad, and the mill did not fetch me much. It survived on the benefit of 2%, which the government gives the physically challenged”. He shut down the mill in 2006.
“Before I shut it down, a relative helped me start the pineapple plantation on 9 acres, in 2001,” he says. As Gowda wanted to use the best fertilisers, he attended several meetings related to agriculture and in one of those he heard a Dharwad University professor speak on how to make and use these fertilisers.
“I began to meet Prof Dixit from Dharwad University and take his guidance,” he says.
Gowda relied on modern techniques and overhead tanks and soon his field’s produce was being transported to New Delhi. Pineapple from his farm was travelling to Delhi and from there to Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab.
Gowda saw a bright light at the end of the tunnel and plunged full time into farming.
He says that his early days were a struggle but his farmer friends would drop by to check on him. “They used to take me to the farm where I would instruct them to do whatever was needed. This way I learnt things though it was a challenge since I couldn’t see,” says Gowda. He has no regrets, except maybe that early treatment could have saved vision “at least in one eye”.
Gurunath Gowda married Sujata G in 1990 and has two daughters— Pratibha (26) and Sushma (24). While Pratibha works for Cognizant in Bengaluru, Sushma is employed as a lecturer in Nagarjuna College, Bengaluru
More than anyone else, his wife has been a major pillar of strength and she is leading the way for him.
Has any award come his way from the state or central government?
“No, hardly anyone in the administration knows about me. But it does not matter, I do whatever I do perfectly and all my crops fetch me good results. People who learn about me keep coming and though I cannot travel much, my produce goes all over the country” he proudly says.
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