After pursuing Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering, Sandhya, a native of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu,
joined a leading car parts manufacturing company in Mumbai and continued working there till 2020
before she learnt that her younger child suffered from a heart related illness.
During her conversations with doctors amid medical treatment, she understood that climate change
triggered alterations in food systems might also be a reason for her son’s condition. Sandhya did not
delay any further in quitting her job. She was determined to make sure her children consumed the
possibly most nutritious food.
Sandhya set up a mini garden in the tiny balcony space she had in her house in Mumbai and cultivated
basic vegetables such as spinach varieties, tomato, brinjal, beetroot, chilly and ladies’ finger in organic
ways. She made sure the soil and the seeds she used for cultivation were rich in goodness. It was a
success. Her efforts resulted in her family consuming self-cultivated, organic, nutritious vegetables.
Sandhya’s initiative attracted the attention of her neighbors in Mumbai and they began producing their
own organic vegetables too.
After a while, Sandhya realized that YouTube videos alone will not help her on a large scale. That’s when
she decided to pursue a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture from IIT Kharagpur.
Post Masters, Sandhya travelled to Coimbatore and Puducherry and stayed with several farmers there
for over 3 months to learn the tactics in organic farming. She then bought some land in Khalapur near
Mumbai and organically cultivated multigrain varities such as Kambu, Kelvaragu, Cholam etc… in
addition to vegetables and fruits. She also produced the most famous and nutritious Karuppu Kavani rice
variety in one of her relative’s land in Thiruvar district of Tamil Nadu.
As people residing in metro cities would find it tough cook to multigrain varieties and karuppu kavani
separately, Sandhya came up with a nutrition powder by grinding them all and mixing in appropriate
proportions. She is providing the nutrition powder free of cost to around 50 financially weak patients
from various hospitals based in Mumbai. If anyone wishes to buy the powder by paying money, they can
do so too at a minimal rate.
Doctors across the globe are indicating that there’s an enormous shift among residents in metro cities
about food systems after the Covid-19 pandemic. They have started to double-check the quality of the
food items they consume. Organic farming is not a hideous task for people living in villages. But for
metro residents, unavailability of space/land is a huge concern. Nevertheless some are even making use
of their balconies and terrace to cultivate the basic food products. Sandhya is also an example for the
It’s high time the Tamil Nadu Govt understands this development and provides the much-needed
awareness and assistance in relation to ‘Urban farming’.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.