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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bhaskar Save – a legend!

He is 89 and still active. One of the oldest (organic) farmers in India, most revered and a fountainhead of knowledge. He has been practising organic farming since 1956. He is a must see for any one taking to farming and his farm kalpavruksha should be visited- likened to pilgrimage.
Another person influenced by Gandhiji! This list of people across many fields influenced by Gandhiji amazes me.

Saveji was an exemplary chemical farmer in the early 1950s. When there were not many who took to chemical farming in those days, his farm was a ‘sample farm’ the fertilizer industry would bring people to. He was a ‘progressive farmer then:-0 but the point is he was always outstanding.
Suddenly he happened to read some points of gandhiji and the turn around (as well as reasoning) happened. From then till date kalpavruksha is an amazing natural farm. From water conservation to mulching to using weeds to the unique way of using crotons to identify the water needs of plants around to intelligent pest management thru mixed cropping – it’s a delight. A farm even the great Fukuoka said was better than his own, when he visited Kalpavruksha!
Saveji has numerous suggestions to make from his vast experience. He backs them all with heavy interesting statistics that one cant ignore what he says. One can fill this whole space with so much of info.
So here I go, only with some of the fabulous quotes of his.
- gandhijis 4 diktats about non violence, no right to kill other creatures, respect to mother earth, adopting traditional practices was the reason for his turn around.
- prakruti hi parameshwar
- When there is lack of knowledge, ignorance masquerades as ‘science’
- Weeding, Chemicals, cultivation expenses like tractor, etc and pesticides constitute 20% of the expenses each.
- Trees/plants donot take anything from the soil unlike the general wisdom. He went on to prove this by taking a pot with 9kg of soil and grew water melon. This grew and gave 2 fruits – 3& 5 kg (8 kg totally). Then he took the full plant and weighed it, which was 600gms. The soil after drying weighed 9kg again!
- Evaporation of water is like distillation and it leaves behind concentrated salt on the soil which was the main factor for loss of soil fertility.
- During and just after the I world war, British (and the farming community) didn’t bother about agriculture and so there was a sudden dip in production. This gave way to Chemical fever.
- Fruits and seeds comprise only 10-15% the rest is all designed to be given back to mother earth!
- vikas nahi vinash! (It aint development but destruction! While talking on the supposed development)
- if farmer becomes bikari the nation wud become bikari too
- we have no right to tamper with nature, it will take care of itself well if we don’t mess
- sarvodaya Vs Sarvanash
- With all this abundant use of pesticide have the pests vanished? Why isn’t any one asking??
- Soil took lakhs of years to form and how can we have short term plans for it?
- Except Humans all live their life, don’t disturb nor affect themselves or other creatures. and they don’t trade either.
- Earth worm is a great being, that works 24X 7. In a day it comes up to the surface 10-12 times to get O2 and to excrete.While it eats on the soil and all wastes that we put, it nourishes the soil so well. There can be up to 4 lakhs earthworm per acre. Each time it comes out it digs 2 holes (tilling any body?) so 2holes x 10 times x 4 lakhs!! 72 crores holes in a crop cycle on average per acre.
- Earthworms during their action do not disturb any of the fibrous roots but tilling would.
- BTW compost is NOT food for forest. Its food for the micro organisms of the soil.
- Trees need moisture not water! More water actually arrests aeration.
- Just like us, the roots also need to breathe and so excess water is unproductive. Prolonged flooding lets the roots to rot and it takes so much time to recoup even after the water drains or dries. Rice being the only exception.
- The water used to irrigate one acre of chemically grown sugarcane can provide the needs of atleast 25 acres of jowar, bajra or maize. Add to this the consumption at the sugar factories. 1 kg of refined sugar would need 3 tons of water. With this water 250 kg of millets can be grown.
- bcos of dams, theertha shetras became Naraga shetras.
- 40% of microbes and earthworms die in the 1st year of chemical farming. Due to this inadvertent introduction of organic (dead) matter on to the soil, the yield increases, in the 1st year. 3rd to 4th year on it reduces. So the introduction of ‘fiddled ‘ seeds, more chemicals, more water, more of everything and so more debts too!
- Of all the creatures 99% are non-vegetarians and the rest 1% is vegetarian. To avoid this 1% we spray so much of harmful chemicals where as the 99% wud have had enough predators to finish them off naturally.
- Instead we killed these helpful non-veg insects and so the vegetarians are freaking out on our crops.
- Chikkoo (sapota) lives for 3000-4000 years! One such 4000 years tree planted by the portugese is seen at silvassa!
- A very insightful, practical and amazing plan to reap the best out of mixed cropping by him is to mix the alpa jeevi (short duration crops, 2-6 months), Madhyama jeevi (medium duration, 2-12 years) and deerga jeevi (long term, 50-1000years) in such a way that the long term are on the outer periphery and as u go inside towards the centre u have the madhya and alpa jeevis.
Something important: When he shifted from chemical to organic way back in 1956, he had 50% yield only but expenses was a meager 10% of the prev year’s. In 5th year he had achieved 100% and from then it only increased.
His recipe for a sujalam suphalam India is to throw 3 things away; namely Agri university, Agri ministry and cricket.

Savejis open letter to M.S.Swaminathan, the great architect of “green revolution” is very [popular and is floating around all over the internet.
For the 1st letter to MSSwaminathan, see here:
Ofcourse he got a typical bureaucratic, diplomatic (read silly) reply from MSS!
For the 3rd letter see here:

Note: I do have lotsa photos including the great Fukuoka's pictorial comments in his visitor's book. But it can only happen later when I reach home.

Note2: for a cute write up and some photos on the same, check out here. Its with Sriram and Karpagam that i visited this farm and Ahmedabad.

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