Return to Roots: Two Brothers Who Picked Organic Farming Over Banking
Meet Ajinkya and Satyajit Hange, two banker brothers who gave…
Meet Ajinkya and Satyajit Hange, two banker brothers who gave up their lucrative careers and decided to pursue their passion for organic farming. Today, the success of Two Brothers Organic Farms, speaks for itself.
When I connect with Ajinkya Hange, farmer and co-founder of Two Brothers Organic Farms, the brand that he runs with his brother, Satyajit, in a small village called Bhodani near Pune, Maharashtra, I’m both elated and intrigued to discover they are farmers by choice. In fact, they gave up lucrative careers—after completing their MBA, Ajinkya and Satyajit started working with HSBC and Standard Chartered bank, respectively—to honour their true calling.
“It was a strong passion for farming—to be one with nature, to be under open skies, to be barefoot on the soil, and a core interest in farming that propelled us to make the switch. Secondly, when we initially got exposed to it, from the point of view of curiosity as to how it’s done and the study, all of it made farming very appealing to us,” says Ajinkya.
Although they have a farming background, the brothers were sent to boarding school in the city so they could get a good education and move out of the hard life of farms to a city or go abroad. “When we’d visit home during vacations and holidays, we would come to the farm to see how farming was done, and how crops were grown,” he adds.
After having their share of corporate life and living in the metropolitan cities of the country, Satyajit and Ajinkya felt a strong pull to live a slower life in the farms, doing what really interested them. They began farming full-time in 2012 and launched the brand in 2017.
Today, Ajinkya explains that what they do at the farm can be classified into three broad buckets. One is that the farming practices they follow are totally organic. “It starts with picking indigenous varieties of seeds and while growing crops, no synthetic fertilisers or pesticides are used, so we are not polluting the soil or food in any way. Then, we make food products like peanut butter and while making them, we don’t use any preservatives, fillers, binders, or chemicals. Also, when it comes to packaging, no plastic is used. We keep it as eco-friendly as possible,” he says. From using electric vehicles to running the farm’s food processing facility on solar power, the farm is eco-friendly to the hilt.
Among the fast movers at Two Brothers Organic Farms are emmer wheat attas, peanut butter, ghee, jaggery, and moringa powder. Their very first retail store has recently upped its shutters in Delhi and until then, they were selling online. The staggering 77K Instagram followers on their handle speaks volumes of the success of this venture.
To spread their love for farming and to get the younger generation interested, Ajinkya and Satyajit have formed organic farming clubs in schools, where children are taught how to grow organic food on campuses. They also organise a farmers’ market, where farmers sell organic produce directly to customers.
“We carry out a community-building activity, where during the past four years, we’ve had 9,000 farmers from 16 countries visit our farm. We showcase practices for growing organic food as there’s nobody teaching this out there,” shares Ajinkya, and adds that 70 per cent of their workforce comprises women from the local village.
Most old- and even new-generation farmers, says Ajinkya, are successful when it comes to growing crops, and getting good produce. But the problem is when you take it to the market, there is never a good rate. “The new generation of farmers understand that marketing is the problem. But then we have these social media platforms and online shops now. Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Flipkart, make it possible for even a small farmer to reach out to the end customer directly. Unlike earlier, in today’s world, it’s easier to get your message across, and show the work you’re doing to people.”
A few years from now, the brothers see themselves continuing this journey. “This is where we wanted to be and there’s no way that we want to see ourselves. In the next years, I’ll be here only,” Ajinkya signs off, making it clear that sometimes the best place to be is where you are, making organic peanut butter et al.