How urban organic farming may be working against traditional farmers

Lately, hashtags like #ootafromyourthota and #organicterracegarden are trending on Instagram indicating a growing demographic of urban Indians rolling up their sleeves and joining an internationally burgeoning #growyourownfood movement. Grocery stores stocked with ‘organic’ brands are popping up in every hip urban neighbourhood in the nation, which makes it seem like everyone has received the memo on ‘clean living.’

This is largely reflective of one kind of urban farming, where individuals and startups are capitalising and catering to the urbanites’ desire for a more eco-conscious lifestyle through holdings and rooftop gardens. The former, small-holdings farmers, refers to those who practice subsistence farming on agricultural zones within growing urban limits. But this form of farming has greatly reduced in the last two decades. According to the Karnataka government’s Department of Agriculture, during Bengaluru’s IT boom, the city went from 0.1 million hectares in 2000 to 0.04 million hectares in 2015.