Mr. Shubhendu Sharma is an award-winning entrepreneur and founder of Afforest- a profit social enterprise that provides services for creating natural, wild, and maintenance free, native forests. Although an Industrial Engineer, he prides himself in being an expert in the unique Miyawaki methodology which creates biodiversity-rich forests that once covered most of the world, but have been denuded due to human greed and growing population.
Afforest has built 118 forests in 40 cities across nine different countries. Winning global acclaim for his work, he is also an INK fellow, TED fellow and Ashoka fellow. Mr Sharma shares his inspiring story on “How to create a forest at the price of an iPhone” during Youth Ki Awaaz summit in 2018. The idea of the Bangalore-based entrepreneur is to bring back the native forests that are self-sustainable and maintenance-free.
Sharing his journey, Mr. Sharma spoke about the meeting that changed his life and an idea that led to the establishment of Afforest. “I am an engineer and years back I used to work for Toyota. In my workplace, I met a Japanese scientist Dr. Akira Miyawaki, who was working on a project to make the Toyota’s factory pollution free and wanted to grow a forest. We together planted 30,000 forests on 2500 acres of land. I felt that the idea should not be confined to our factory and decided to replicate the idea in India. I left my job and began my journey of creating forests” said Shubhendu Sharma insisting that creating community is a very smooth process.
Highlighting the uniqueness of these forests which has 30 times more trees than any other forest on the same area, Sharma said, “In 10 years, these forests grow like they are 100 years old.” Sharma’s forests are leading to rich biodiversity without any wastage of land. His team works on creating a multi-layer forest by having a full-fledged survey of the trees and then classifying these trees according to their species. A firm believer of optimal utilization of resources, he transformed this fascinating idea into an efficient model, with a proper cost-benefit analysis. “In a parking space of six cars, 350 trees can be grown at the cost of an IPhone,” he claimed.
He explicitly explained the process of providing the best manure to a barren land by adding three specific ingredients that are- sugarcane, paddy husk and cow dung, mixing them and tweaking it by adding a layer of Subhash Palekar’s Jeevamruta, which helps nutrients-providing micro-organisms to thrive. The mud created, absorbed water and the dense network of roots that is outgrown in this soil hold the soil together. The reach of Afforestt is widespread. Their rosters of clients are spread across 38 cities in nine countries like Pakistan, Iran, USA and most of Europe. Their commendable work has covered the impenetrable forests of whole India. Sharma has encouraged the individuals to take up this green community building project. “Whenever you see a barren land, remember that you can build a forest there.”