Published: 31st January 2020
Hyderabad's original farm hand: How Abhinav Gangumalla is making nutritious food accessible
"People equate sustainability to activism, but I think to build any successful business, at the core of it all, it needs to be sustainable," says Abhinav Gangumalla
Weekend farming is officially a thing now. But you know those farms don't design themselves, right? It takes expertise and professional prowess to design sustainable farms. The same expertise that Abhinav Gangumalla built as Co-founder and Former CEO of SAGE. But he exited in April 2019 when the realisation dawned, "that after spending over a decade in the organic food segment, I still couldn't make it affordable." Since then, the 35-year-old has been solely focusing on Farmer Abhinav Consulting and Training (FACT), an initiative that makes natural food and health accessible to all. It is under FACT that he focuses on designing, building and operating farms. He has done so for 11 farms as of now - we are talking about a cumulative of 300 acres of farmland in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai. Apart from organic food and farming, FACT, through the wellness coaching vertical, focuses on simple lifestyle changes that one could make at zero cost and gain good health.
Abhinav with mangoes | (Pic: Abhinav Gangumalla)
"All I say is that when people can afford to upgrade their lifestyle once in a while - get a better car, the latest phone or new clothes - they should upgrade the quality of the food they consume too. And no, I am not talking about hiring chefs, I am talking about nutritious food thats grown locally and seasonally in a natural way," says the alumni of IIT Bombay. Having finished a Certification in Nutrition, he finally started pursuing a goal that has been close to his heart — making healthy lifestyle affordable for all. This Engineer turned farmer and wellness coach advises people on nutrition and sometimes, how one can focus on it without spending a rupee.
In fact, his Facebook timeline is a crash course on how to do this. But his main mission is to impact more people. "The main ingredients in a typical Indian meal are rice, dal and oil. When you control them, 80 per cent of human calories are sorted. So, my approach is to make the basics affordable through volume," says Abhinav, who is credited for starting Hyderabad's first organic farmers market back in 2010.
Abhinav giving a lecture | (Pic: Abhinav Gangumalla)
Abhinav has already installed a cold-pressed oil unit on his farm near Vikarabad, Telangana. He is already in talks with farmer producer organisations to see what he can do about the volume of rice and other pulses. "Through this, I want to ensure that no one's financial status prevents them from eating healthy," he says. Putting a finger on the problem, he says, "The thing is, we have not evolved to handle abundance when it comes to food. History was always about shortage of food, if not for the last 50 years. Lifestyle disorders, diabetes, hypertension and so on are offshoots of the inability to handle this consistent abundance of food around us." This is making us insensitive to food which is why we tend to overdo it, believes Abhinav, and he wants to do his best to mitigate this.
Two poignant pieces of advice:
- Abhinav says that everything you eat should pass through four filters, SLOW — Seasonal, Local, Organic and Whole, if you really want to eat more consciously
- Fasting, advocated by almost every religion, is a counter to the abundance problem mentioned earlier and makes you realise you can go on with a lot less than what you're eating
For more on him, check out facebook.com/abhinav.gangumalla.9