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‘Home-grown food is a promising way to enhance food security and wellbeing,’ says Apeejay alumnus  

This AIT-SAP alumnus shares about his journey from being an architecture professor to now expertising in sustainable agriculture

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From learning architecture to teaching – his journey 

With a keen interest to learn about the history of architecture and different elements that involve the creation of a building, Mohammad Faisal decided to pursue his career in this field. Therefore, after completing his class 10, he did a Diploma in Architecture from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). After that, he pursued an undergraduate degree in Architecture from Apeejay Institute of Technology – School of Architecture and Planning (AIT-SAP). Not just that! From 2016-18, he also did a M Arch (Master in Architecture) programme from Babu Banarasi Das University, Lucknow.  In between these courses, he also completed an Advanced Diploma programme in Environmental Engineering from AMU. His  interest kept growing as he moved from one phase of his life to another. 

What inspired Faisal to take up teaching architecture was his lust for learning. And so, after completing his education, the Apeejay alumnus joined Khandelwal College of Architecture & Design in Bareilly as an Assistant Professor. Subsequently, he went to teach in the School of Architecture and Planning at NIMS University, Jaipur. Over there, he also served as the Head of the Department for almost two years. He believes, “Knowledge shared is knowledge squared.”

Shift from architecture to agriculture

However, ever since the global pandemic hit, Faisal decided to make a switch in his career. He quit his job as a Professor and took the ownership of his family farm business of growing mango, guava, sugarcane, to name a few, in large-scale.

Not just mangoes and guavas but more…

Well, we just don’t grow mangoes. During other seasons, we grow rice, wheat, sugarcane, potatoes, mustard, and many varieties of vegetables. We have a big orchid where we grow a large variety of indigenous mangoes namely Dasheri and Chaunsa during the summer season. A lot of them are also exported to neighbouring states including Delhi-NCR, Haryana and other parts of Uttar Pradesh.  

Advantage of consuming locally-grown fruits and vegetables

Locally-grown produce may help in improving diets and the nutritional status of people. Eating more home-grown, nutritious green leafy vegetables can help improve micronutrient deficiencies — especially for those with a predominantly vegetarian diet. Locally grown fruits and vegetables, say when you grow it in your kitchen garden or backyard, will always be fresh. On the other hand, say you pick fruits and vegetables from a supermarket, the quality and taste certainly differs. It’s because sugars and other nutrients begin to break down into starches and loose flavor. Therefore, home-grown food is a promising way to enhance household food security and wellbeing. At the same time, consumers choosing to buy locally grown foods are also helping to protect the environment.  Since the fruit or vegetable produced is brought directly from the farm to the market, it eliminates additional shipment of these produce by diesel trucks, and that will help in reducing the carbon footprint. 

Ensuring crops grown are free from pesticides and healthy to eat

It would be wrong to say that in farms no pesticides are used as the quantity of production is massive. However, the amount used is minimum. We mostly rely on animal manure which we all know is a valuable ingredient when it comes to farming. It not only supplies primary nutrients like phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium and other micronutrients for plants or crop growth, but also is a source of organic matter. The manure or fertilisers as we call it increases soil organic matter that improves soil structure.

The need to focus on sustainable agriculture 

Sustainability and soil conservation are the need of the hour. That is why we use multiple cropping techniques for our farming. Only because it’s one of the best agronomic measures to increase the effective length of the growing season. Also, multiple cropping could also help in maintaining soil fertility. Moreover, there is also an urgent need to focus on soil conservation. If we do not take care of the soil that we are using for growing our fruits and vegetables, then there might be a day when we will have no soil to grow fruits and vegetables.  

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.

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