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  • Writer's pictureCapt SN Ahmed

Wish we could keep even hunger one-meter away...

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

One-meter away.

...that's the norm of the day..., Social Distancing - to make sure that you do not catch the infection.

Wish we could keep even hunger one-meter away? But no, hunger seeps in the moment you wake up and keep returning all through the day. Hunger is like a wildfire. It can never be diffused.

So in this COVID infected scenario, how to curb this hunger? Not just curb, but also provide nutrition? A big question that was in front of every one, including the Government. That's where Government declared few of the facilities like medical, water, groceries and even vegetables, as essentials.

Lucky are those who are staying in metros or tier 1 or 2 cities, where such facilities are not affected. But what about the outskirts and villages?

For the villagers or daily laborer, food on the table (oops! food on the plate) is more bothersome than some virus. But when everything is locked down where will the food come from, leave aside nutrition?

Similar was the case in Anthaipally village in Shamirpet area, on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

While the whole nation was covering their nose with face mask and doing the 20 seconds hand wash..., these villagers were walking distances to find & fetch, basic necessities. For them, social distancing was just a fad as they were more bothered about the next meal on the plate.

I was picking up come grocery at a nearby store where I overheard a conversation between a lady & her helper.

"Idhar saara sabji sookha hai" (All the vegetables are stale & wilted)

"Malum hai Didi, Mera cousin ke vaan pe muft me dere sabji !? Vo bhi ekdum inglis bhaji. Paalak aur kotmeer bhot accha katte, Vo bola, paani ka sabji hai. Aisa kaise hota?" (You know, at my cousin's place they are getting free vegetables that too English vegetables. Spinach, Coriander... etc. And he says, that they are grown on water! How is this possible?)

Fresh vegetables.Rewards of Social Distancing.

I understood that she was talking about the futuristic Hydroponic vegetables and not any ordinary vegetables. I got curious as to who is growing them in Hyderabad and also helping the needy in such a time of need?

I surfed and discovered Anupam Farms which is doing research in hydroponics and is also having a healthy produce. Because of the lock-down, they are the ones who have decided to take this noble step of free distribution of vegetables to the localities, instead of waiting to supply in the market.

Started by three youngsters. Anupam Farms has been doing research work and also producing soil-free vegetables for about two years now. With their state-of-the-art farm they are successfully producing a whole lot of leafy vegetables like spinach, basil, lettuce, coriander & peppermint along with English cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli etc. The technique being used to grow the vegetables on water is very interesting..., but I was more curious to know about them helping the villagers.

When asked, Ankit Saraff (Founder) said, "As our staff is mainly from nearby villages, we came to know about many families surviving just on boiled rice and some pickle. That's when we decided to open the produce to villagers for a free pickup. We started displaying the vegetables outside the farm in evening.

Workers at the farm spread the news and in no time it became viral. The very next day, villagers started coming in large numbers. The vegetables were rationed for each member and to get their share they started behaving like a crowd. Despite marking the one-meter marking, they were breaking the social-distancing norm. They were coming in groups as if it was a social gathering."

It's social distancing, not social gathering. Wake up.

"This was a difficult situation and we had to take a tough decision. We stopped the free distribution, second day onwards..." says Dhruv, Partner at Anupam Farms..."the villagers came as usual and they were told that if they do not follow one-meter social distancing there will be no vegetable distribution"

He continued "...while we were trying to beat their hunger, we couldn't risk them with Corona infection. We decided to take a tough decision of making them go away empty-hand that evening. But they were educated about the importance of one-meter distance and the markings; If they want to follow this, they can come back again the next day"

Villagers went away grunting.

"Next evening at 3 pm, we again opened the gates to display the vegetables and we were surprised to see the villagers waiting. We thought they will not come again. But they were there and this time they were sitting in the earmarked areas. We were pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed too. One, because we will be able to help these villagers in their meals and two, because they learnt the importance of social distancing in the era of Corona pandemic."

Villagers queued up for Free Vegetables

Hopefully the lock-down period will eradicate corona from the world. But I hope that the lessons learnt during this phase : importance of basic hygiene, surviving on little and living eco-friendly life, will go a long way across the generations to come.

Ankit & Dhruv and the team at Anupam Farms, you are the HEROES, I met fighting the Corona War

BTW, I am looking forward to have these hydroponic vegetables myself. Will update you soon on the same too.

C ya soon

Capt Ahmed

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