Living on the principle of “Atmanirbharta”, Ambrose Kooliyath, an organic farmer from Kerala has realised the importance of being self-sufficient. Ambrose Kooliyath belongs to a middle-class family in Kerala. Receiving formal education only till 12th grade, he then started working as a technician to earn a livelihood. This was the period of his life when he started learning the important lessons of life. He believes that he has learnt more from his work and environment than he did from school. Apart from his occupation, he was also an active part of several labour unions for many years.

Knowledge about farming and agriculture is bestowed upon him just like it has been to everyone in his family by tradition. Whilst in Kochi, I was cogitating over my options for my education and employment when I understood the significance of being self-sufficient. He observed that he had to rely on markets to buy even the smallest thing such as a knife that we use in our kitchens daily; on the other hand, the labourers who are skilled in such trade and sculpture are unemployed. 

Ambrose Kooliyath decided to set up ‘Kisan Share’, where children would be taught activities like weaving Khadi clothes, farming, pottery, and such-like activities. However, setting up a place to carry out these activities appeared to be a difficult task because of the unavailability of land. “I contacted a friend regarding the same and he leased me 10 acres of his farmland near Thrissur. I took the lease for 20 years and turned the piece of land into a workspace in less than 3 years” he said.

“Every week, students from nearby schools and colleges are brought here to gain practical training. I always advise the teachers and professors to let the students indulge themselves in these activities and get their hands dirty, rather than just observing. This way the students can learn efficiently. “The students will be able to learn the art of behaviour and practical skills this way,” says Kooliyath. 

Ambrose firmly believes that every child is different; it would be unfair to say that one is smarter than the other. He has not sent any of his sons to school. Rather than theoretical knowledge, Kooliyath encourages them to be practically skilled. They design products to be sold in one of his shops in the city. 

Authored by: Pooja Shah

Edited by: Keval Vyas

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