B.M. Vishwanath was an agricultural entomologist who turned his back on fertilisers

Dr. B.N. Vishwanath, 77, a pioneer of organic terrace gardening in the city, passed away on Sunday. He had started Garden City Farmers that has been organising ‘Oota from your Thota’, a quarterly programme of training and seed exchange for organic farmers in urban spaces.

“This was the silver jubilee year of his advocacy for organic terrace farming. The community of terrace farmers in the city was preparing to celebrate at an ‘Oota from your Thota’ programme on August 30. However, he passed away before that. But we shall celebrate his legacy,” said Vani Murthy, a member of the organising committee of Garden City Farmers.

He was suffering from renal issues, sources close to him said. Born in 1943 and hailing from Mylasandra, a village on the outskirts of Bengaluru, he carved out a career as an agricultural entomologist and taught in the Department of Entomology, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, for 16 years.

He quit his job and went to Hollywood to learn videography before shifting to make documentaries. He went on to make several documentaries, mostly on agriculture. His childhood memories of a more pristine environment and the subsequent destruction of nature over the years weighed heavily on him.

“As I thought of those days, the enormity of change and urbanisation dawned upon me. Reading Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, was the turning point. The entomologist who advocated chemical fertilisers gradually began to fade. I decided to practise organic farming, and there was no looking back,” he had told The Hindu in 2014. He ran a bio-fertiliser factory Kadur Agro till the late ’80s.

He later hit upon the idea of encouraging organic terrace farming in Bengaluru and held his first workshop in 1995. He was instrumental in forming the Association for Promotion of Organic Farming (APOF). He organised the first national and international congress on terrace farming in Bengaluru.

“He was a pioneer and inspired legions of citizens, including me, to take up organic terrace farming. Today, if Bengaluru leads the country in this aspect, it is thanks to him,” said Ms. Murthy, a terrace gardener and trainer herself. “His motto was simple: ‘Grow what you eat and eat what you grow’. It has had a huge impact on lives,” she added.

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