The Trendsetter: Cure for Sure
RSS swayamsevaks in Manpura, Rajasthan, show how to fight against the killer cocktail of pesticides
Intro: Majority of us know that the ‘fresh’ vegetables or fruits that we buy from the market are infected with dangerous pesticides blindly used in the farms. The farmers too are aware that the cocktail of pesticides which they use is detrimental not only to human beings but also to the biodiversity. Even then they do not want to abandon it, as they feel it may decrease their yields. But people of Manpura village under Jhalawar district of Rajasthan have proved all the notions wrong. Majority of the farmers here opted for organic farming registering encouraging hike in the production. The demand for their produces is so high that orders are placed even before the crops are harvested, writes Pramod Kumar.
A recent study conducted by Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition found that the most vegetables we buy for our kitchen have residues of 18 pesticides and 5 of them are present in almost all the vegetables. Banned pesticides like aldicarb and highly toxic ones like monocrotophos were also found in the samples. Findings of this study are similar to the studies conducted in previous or later years by NGOs or the government agencies. A study by Union Agriculture Ministry also found residues of many pesticides like Cypermethrin in ladys finger and cabbage, Chlorpyriphos in cauliflower and Chlorpyriphos in cabbage. The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in 2003 found that all the samples they took from the markets were contaminated. A 2010 study by the same institute reconfirmed that the banned pesticides were still present in the samples. Another study in Delhi claimed that 35 verities of vegetables and fruits picked from Delhi markets had high doses of banned pesticides.
Hukum Chand Patidar
Studies have revealed that hardly 1 per cent of the pesticide actually acts on the pest and the rest goes into our system through food, water or the environment. That is why even the mother’s milk has been found infected. Research carried out by one Dr Rashmi Sanghi at IIT Kanpur recently found 800 per cent more than the permissible limits of pesticides in the samples of mothers’ milk. Those pesticides entered the mothers’ milk through air, water and the food they consumed. Even a very harmful pesticide, Endosulfan, was found in those samples. Endosulfan is said to have claimed the lives of over 5000 people and crippled countless in Kasargod area of Kerala. Worried over these findings the UPA government in 2012 formed an expert committee under the Chairpersonship of Dr. Sandhya Kulshrestha, Additional Deputy Director General of Ministry of Health & family Welfare to frame a policy for periodic checks to detect pesticide residues in vegetables and fruits. The Committee in its report submitted in March 2013 suggested to promote the use of environment-friendly bio-pesticides.
Who is responsible for this disastrous situation and who will promote the use of ‘environment friendly bio pesticides’ is the million dollor question? Fact is that none (neither the farmers nor governments) wants to take a firm decision about rejecting chemical pesticides and adopting nature-friendly farming.
Manpura village in Rajasthan, about 27 km from Jhalawar district headquarters under Asnawar tehsil, has taken a big leap on this front. The village with just 355 people strictly rejected chemical pesticides and majority of the farmers have turned to organic farming. Contrary to perception that yield in organic farming is lower than the chemical farming, the villagers here have proved that the yield is basically higher and profitable in organic farming. The man behind this change in Manpura is Hukum Chand Patidar, who in 2003 took the initiative and transformed the lives of not only the people in his village but also the entire biodiversity in the area. “I was a conventional farmer till 2003. That year something dramatic happened in my farm. Many peacocks and animals at the farm started dying. I realised it was the pesticide that may have poisoned them. I was myself using a lot of monocrotophos, which is very toxic for birds, and Endosulfan. I felt very guilty and the event completely changed the course of my work, recollects Shri Patidar.
The experiment started in 2003 has now been emulated by all the farmers who now cultivate organic produces at over 200 acre lands. Apart from gram, wheat, pulses, vegetables and fruits like papaya, oranges, and spices like coriander, garlic, maithi, are very popular. These products have demand even in Germany, Japan, Australia and Korea. “It is the popularity of our produces that a group of some farm researchers from Japan is scheduled to visit here from July 19-20 to study our methods of growing these spices and other organic produces,” points out Shri Patidar while talking to Organiser.
Apart from Jaipur, Udaipur, Kota, Jhalawar in Rajasthan, the produces of this village are in great demand in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal also. “Now the demand is so high that orders are placed even before the crops are harvested,” added Shri Patidar, who was invited by film star Amir Khan in his show, Satyameva Jayate last year, to share his experience with the entire country. Shri Patidar rejects all claims that production decreases in organic farming. “From 2003 to 2006 the production was a little low but later it increased substantially.” Now to promote organic farming in neighbouring areas, the villagers of Manpura have formed Akshya Jaivik Krishi Sansthan. “Presently, 120 farmers are associated with it and we want to spread the activities all over Rajasthan. Activities have already begun in Barmer, Bikaner and seven other districts,” Patidar added.
Very few people know that the prime inspiration behind this change in Manpura is Rashtriya Swayamsevaks Sangh workers. “This project was basically conceived with the inspiration of senior Sangh leader Shri Hastimal, who is now Akhil Bharatiya Sampark Pramukh. He inspired us to make Manpura a model village for organic farming. Since beginning we used only cow-based or nature-friendly pesticides and manure and strictly said no to chemical pesticides. Many senior Sangh leaders including RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi, Akhil Bharatiya Gram Vikas Pramukh Dr Dineshji, Akhil Bharatiya Gou Sewa Pramukh Shri Shankarlal have visited the village.
For most people the cow and her progenies are now useless animals. But in this village, the cow and her progenies proved to be the backbone of this transformation. Every house has desi cow. “It has scientifically been proved that the Indian bread of cow has the capacity to make India disease-free, loan-free, pollution-free, crime-free, unemployment-free, hunger-free and malnutrition-free. But the problem is despite knowing all facts, nobody wants to move forward. The swayamsevaks in Manpura have taken an initiative, which can be emulated by the entire country,” said Shri Shankarlal while talking to Organiser.
Though many successful experiments of organic farming are taking place in southern and north-eastern parts of the country, the successful experiment of Manpura exhorts the people of north India to move forward before it is too late.