Every other day we get to hear the plight of Indian farmers despite the fact that they slog all over the year to feed us and give us that essential energy called “Prana”.
I relocated to Uttarakhand Himalayas a few years back and we work closely with farmers here in the hills. They remind me of the old Hindi film “Mother India’, honestly not much has changed between that era of black and white cinema and now. The farmer was poor then and remains poor now.
Yes, there are a few exceptions like Punjab and Haryana which have evolved with the times in terms of the Green revolution and all but on second thoughts, we also hear about a “cancer express” train running daily between Punjab and bordering areas of Rajasthan specifically for cancer treatments.
I don’t want to harp on what went wrong as all of us know about genetically modified crops, abuse of pesticides, and the so-called ‘green revolution. Looking at the Maharasthra region where thousands of farmers have committed suicide for the simple reason that all of them have switched over to BT cotton which requires lots and lots of water for cultivation and water is becoming scarce.
Now, I am not an authority on the subject of agriculture but yes I traditionally belong to a farmer family of Haryana. I tried probing and found some simple solutions to the complex problem.
As a kid I remember, we had a small piece of land, a barren piece of land full of stones and thorny bushes adjacent to our regular fields which were sown for regular crops, etc.
This small piece of land was actually abandoned and was used by kids to play. I remember meeting this old man, a friend of my grandfather who decided to experiment and he manipulated me and a couple of cousins into his experiment.
He made us clear and dig this piece of land every day for few hours. This digging process revealed a wriggling earthworm, that actually transformed the look and feels of that piece of land finally. As per this old man, the secret of better farming and better yield is this earthworm. He explained how he gathered the earthworms by the wall every few days and used them to enrich the soil in which he grew his choicest flowers and vegetables.
He simply taught us to put these earthworms to work turning our barren field into a fertile field.
Earthworms, by their ceaseless boring, keep the earth’s crust rotating; they transform vegetables and animal waste into rich manure, humus. They change the earth’s chemicals into soluble plant food, the countless tiny tunnels enable rainwater and air to penetrate the soil. So we learned to harvest the earthworms and leave the magic to them, perhaps they can help solve mankind’s acute food problems. I remember that once barren land became more and more lush and fertile. If you are unhappy with the growth of any specific tree or shrub, simply dig a hole near the root and shove few earthworms there and see the magic.
An earthworm, working the surface at night and boring into the earth by day, release his waste which is near his weight in the fresh soil every 24 hours. This excretion is exceptional plant food. Imagine, any bull or even a tractor can plow for few hours a day but here the earthworms are working round the clock. Instead of damaging the roots, the earthworms open holes for them in the compact subsoil.
As a matter of fact, we don’t need more land to produce more crops, all we want is more topsoil. The trouble with people’s thinking is that they need more acres when what we need is more topsoil.
This would also help us in solving our problem of waste management in cities and suburbs as every city could maintain a farm where the waste food of the community would be used to feed earthworms instead of going to waste.
The issue is we have been abusing our mother earth with unnecessary chemical pesticides which have resulted in a death hole for these earthworms as well.
Mother earth needs our help so that it can nurture mankind.
Dheere dhree re mana dheere sab kuch hoye,Maali seenche sau ghada ritu aye phal hoye..
Meaning: Slowly slowly stay in my mind, slowly everything happens. Gardner may water garden a hundred times but you get fruit only when the right season comes.