Sheikhpur, Bihar: Indian farmers feed the whole country, but don’t have enough to meet their own needs. The country is losing more than 2,000 farmers a day as villagers are constantly migrating to cities in search of jobs. Nearly a quarter of a million debt-ridden farmers have resorted to committing 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 doing remarkable work in encouraging organic farming since 2008. It has trained more than two 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 about a commendable change in the lives of these farmers.
Rajiv Kumar, a 44-year-oldfarmer from Sheikhpur district of Bihar, had four acres of land that was lying barren. With only a dry riverbed nearby, there was acute water shortage in the region and he could not earn any income from it.
In 2009, Rajiv was unemployed with seven family members to feed. To salvage his land and start cultivation, he attended a Zero Budget workshop conducted by Mr. Balakrishan from the Art of Living. He learnt about water conservation, and became aware of the methods used to replace nutrients in the soil.
He realized that different crops could be grown at the same time and cow dung and cow urine could be used as fertilizers, bringing the total investment to a bare minimum. The farmer needed to invest only in water and seeds. Rajiv implemented the techniques discussed during the workshop and decided to grow flowering plants and fruit trees on his land.
From fallow to fertile
Rajiv dug pits at every 30 feet, filled them with water, and sowed different types of seeds that yielded flowers and fruits. 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. He also grows saplings of Rosewood, Mango, Teak, Lemon, Pomegranate, Papaya, and Lakshmi Taru. Instead of using pesticides, he grows a neem sapling every 30 feet and sprinkles ash collected from the agnihotra puja he performs. This keeps his nursery healthy.
Rajiv is now 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 flowers and fruits to numerous customers, including the Forest Department of Bihar.
While the average per capita income of Bihar is Rs. 28,000 per annum, Rajiv is earning more than Rs. 400,000 per annum. His nursery is a living example of the fact that a lot can be done with very little. Now, his family members have also pitched in to help him at the nursery.
Project coordinator Rajiv Kumar can be reached on (+91) 9955406062