Aaji is a 70-year-old small-scale woman farmer with 8 acres of land. Her cozy lovely home is a large hut made with handmade mud bricks and a tin roof. They have a typical rural way of life and their land, several acres of it, has the richest soil in Niphad. Their farm has probably never seen any urea, chemical pesticides or fertilizers. They have a sturdy Indian indigenous cow ‘Gir’, a good Indian breed. The milk of Gir cow is absolutely delicious. It is also the same milk rich in A2 Vitamin.
Each time I go for field work, I have the privilege of learning through the age-old wisdom of farmers practicing natural farming. Apparently, Jeevamruth, indigenous cow dung, urine, mixed with jaggery and besan 100 liters of water as Jeevamruth is enough for 1 acre every week. Basically, one indigenous Indian cow can sustain 20 acres of rural land for natural farming! This was a revelation!
At Aaji’s farm, they prepare ‘Jeevamrut’ and use it as a natural fertilizer. Dashparini is used as a natural pesticide. All leaves that are not eaten can be used to prepare this. Aaji’s farm did not have some of the wild habitat trees required e.g Nirgundi. So they usually visit a neighboring farm to pluck the leaves. Aaji has drip irrigation and a natural borewell and they have earmarked half of a field to build a natural reservoir for the approaching monsoon.
After a course meal in Aaji’s hut-she called for organic grapes black and green from an organic farmer attached with ‘Art of living Kisan manch’ and Lemon water prepared from their lemons, followed by raw groundnuts (delicious!) from their organic fields. The actual lunch came after 2 hours of work.
I was impressed with the observation they maintained as a natural course of meals since they took it for granted that there has to be a gap between the fruit and nut starter and grains. The normal gap could be 30–45 mins between each course meal. Lunch was homemade and homegrown. Wheat and Bajra bhakri from their own organic harvest, Baingan (Brinjal) bhaji, spring onion leave cooked in a coconut gravy, lemon pickle. Red chilly and coconut are the main spice due to being homegrown but even though filtered or cold pressed edible oils are available in that region they were using a cheap form of refined oil. We discussed how to make filtered edible oil available to them at affordable prices. Unfortunately, even farmers who grow their own oilseeds of that region e.g mustard, groundnuts (they didn’t produce enough to extract oil but they had enough mustard and we advised them to get oil from their own mustard) do not use filtered or cold pressed oil for their own cooking. This awareness will have to be created. They buy chemical free ‘Gud’(Jaggery) from a nearby farmer and this was the dessert, rolled in a piece of Chapati.
Farmer story has been written by Dr Punam Jain