From a small village in south-eastern Rajasthan to international markets, Hukumchand Patidar has made a name for himself in promoting organic farming. The 62-year-old farmer has made his village, Manpura, in Jhalawar district, famous in Japan, Switzerland and Germany, the three countries that import organic farm produce from the village.
Patidar got Padma Shri in 2018 for his contribution to organic farming. President Ramnath Kovind conferred the civilian award to the Jhalawar farmer on March 16. In 2012, he featured in television talk show, Satyamev Jayate, which was hosted by actor and filmmaker Aamir Khan. The show was about highlighting people’s achievements in fighting social issues.
Patidar who studied till class X, took to organic farming in 2003. His decision was prompted by the death of several village animals including peacocks and stray dogs allegedly after consuming pesticide contaminated soya bean crop. In response, Patidar developed two organic fertilizers – one using earthworms to produce compost and the second using cow dung, cow urine, cow milk, cow ghee, cow yoghurt, gram flour, turmeric powder and leaves.
“I consulted Shantilal Mehta, who was the vice chancellor of Udaipur-based Maharana Pratap Agriculture University, to know more about organic fertilizers. I learnt that carbon source in the soil can be increased by using compost and other organic material,” Patidar says.
The fertilizer made with cow products is called instant compost, he says. Wood scrapings, gram flour, turmeric powder, fallen leaves, jaggery, soil from under a banyan tree are poured in pits along with the cow products to make this instant compost.
Patidar produces around 25 tonnes of vermicompost and around 600 tonnes of instant compost every year at his farm house in Manpura village.
Over the last 16 years, he has motivated 120 farmers in the village to engage in organic farming and develop Manpura as a hub of chemical-free agriculture. They have set up a processing and grading unit in the village, and export coriander powder, garlic paste, fennel seeds and fenugreek to European countries and Japan, and supply oranges, pulses and onion to domestic markets.
Every year, farmers from Manpura export around 100 tonnes of coriander powder to Japan, around 2,200 kg of garlic paste to Switzerland, around 50 tonnes of fenugreek and 100 quintals of fennel seed to Germany, Patidar said.
“I do organic farming on 40 acres. The total acreage under organic farming in Manpura is 365 hectares,” says Patidar, who lives in a joint family of 17 members. His wife, Ramjanki, is no more. He has two sons, Vijay, 29, and Vikas, 25, who assist him in farming despite having master’s in computer applications and technology, respectively.
Patidar begins his day at 4am and reaches his farm at 8am. In between this, he does yoga for about half-an-hour and drinks a glass of amaltaas juice with honey. Amaltaas, an Indian tropical tree, has long, grape-bunches like yellow gold flowers. He says this juice prevents acidity.
He eats dinner at 7.30pm after an hour of yoga from 6pm to 7pm. Patidar says he likes to read for an hour or so before sleeping at 10pm.
Patidar says his organic farming model was included in the Central government’s plan for improvement of traditional farming in 2016 by forming clusters of 22 villages. “Around 4,000 farmers from Jhalawar district are a part of the programme,” he adds.
Agriculture experts from 28 countries have visited Manpura for understanding the model.
“I am doing organic farming because of Patidar saab. He has trained many farmers like me,” says 35-year-old Rajendra Singh Chaudhary of Manpura.
Kota division’s agriculture joint director Ramavatar Sharma lauds Patidar’s efforts in promoting organic farming. “The best thing is that he has even developed a market for organic farm produce. Farmers get a higher price for these produce compared to the ones produced using chemical fertilizers,” Sharma added.