Rich Land, Rich Crops,
Rich Hands

Farmers in India, who feed the whole country, don't have much for themselves.

India is losing more than 2,000 farmers every single day, as villagers migrate to cities in search of better jobs. Nearly a quarter of a million debt-ridden farmers have resorted to suicide since 1995. Poor yield due to inadequate irrigation and lack of fertile soil have had an adverse effect on their income, leaving them incapable of repaying their loans.

The Art of Living has been working in the field of organic farming since 2008. It has trained more than 2 million farmers and unemployed youth in this sustainable and profitable method of farming.

Sri Sri Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Trust (SSIAST) has brought a wave of change in the life of these farmers.

Zero Budget Farming

44-year-old Rajiv Kumar from Sheikhpur district of Bihar had 4 acres of land that was lying barren and earning him no income. With only a dry riverbed near-by, water shortage was scarce in the region. He was thus unable to utilise this land for cultivation.

In 2009, Rajiv was unemployed with seven family members to feed. In an attempt to salvage the land, he attended a Zero Budget workshop conducted by Mr. Balakrishan of the Art of Living.
He learnt water conservation and methods to replace nutrients in the soil. Different crops were grown at the same time and cow dung and cow urine were used as fertilizers. This kept the cost of farming at a minimum with the farmer only investing in water and seeds.

Rajiv implemented the techniques he had learnt in the workshop by growing flowers on his land.

From fallow to fertile

Rajiv dug pits every 30 feet, filled it with water, and sowed different types of flowers and fruits around it. This helped increase the ground water flow. As plants need moisture, and not water, cultivating near a pit of water provided better irrigation and prevented water wastage.

With water supply now available 24x7, Rajiv has created a thriving nursery of flowers of excellent quality. Along with flowers, he now grows Rosewood, Mango, Teak, Lemon, Pomegranate, Papaya, and Lakshmi Taru. Instead of using chemical pesticides, he sows a Neem plant every 30 feet and sprinkles ash from the agnihotra puja he performs. This effectively keeps his nursery healthy.

Rajiv was unemployed before the training, but now he is ready to train others in this method of farming. On an average, around 500 people from across the land visit his nursery and marvel at the flowers. Today, he sells his flowers and fruits to numerous customers including the Forest Department of Bihar. While the average per capita income of Bihar is Rs. 28,000, Rajiv is earning more than Rs. 400,000 per annum.

His nursery shows that a lot can be done with very little. His family has also joined him and now work with him at the nursery.

Reported by Ramasheesh