Thursday, October 13

'My Land is Healthier'

No pesticide, no chemical fertiliser, no crop losses. Amrita writes about a farmer from Chottiyan village in Sangrur district, who has'nt heard of the term 'organic farming'.

"Meri mitti sab nallon takatwar hai (My land is healthier than all other lands)," Jeeva Singh announces proudly as he plays with a handful of earth.
The source of his confidence lies in knowing what has fed his farm for the past 30 years-or, rather, what hasn't. No chemical fertilisers, no pesticides, no weed-killers. And before you think 'organic farming', no, he hasn't heard of that label either.
Elsewhere, Jeeva Singh would be an oddity. In Punjab, amidst the pesticide-doused fields, crop failures and farmer suicides of the cotton belt, he is a miracle.
It was at the onset of so called green revolution when Jeeva Singh recalls people suddenly started using chemicals for more yield and better pest-resistance "I don't know what it was, but something inside me reacted violently to the idea of poisoning our Mother Earth" he says remembering "The people around me, including my sons, thought I was mad."
Jeeva Singh has never seen anybody showing so much interest in the way he does his agriculture. This is a way of life for him and what he believes in, he explains. He simply depends on conventional farming methods and lets nature guide his crops. His wife and daughter pitch in by deweeding land the old-fashioned way, with their hands.
Even to the casual observer, Jeeva Singh's fields look different from the neat, manicured lands of his neighbours. It's hard to discern much order in the medley of cotton, tinda and maize that grow on his land, but it becomes clear on talking to the farmer that he has a bigger picture in mind.
The basic idea is to keep our own needs in check. He has not joined the blind race for commercialisation and mechanization. He prefers to use a bicycle and tackle various jobs around the farm with his own hands instead of hiring labour, so he prefers to grow what he can look after himself.
And it's not much, he is the first to acknowledge. "I may get slightly lesser yield than my neighbours but because I don't use hired labour or chemicals, my input costs are much lower than theirs" is his common-sensical explanation. Interestingly while the land-holdings of other farmers around have been dropping every year, he has actually been able to add two acres to his original three acres of land.
And as for the feeling of satisfaction that comes from coaxing life out of earth the way nature meant it, it's priceless.

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