Ananthoo's updates

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

Friday, July 23, 2010

Extraordinary couple!

How would u like it if some one or other comes
-to charge a battery
-to get some medical attention (one days medicine and attending cost is Rs2/- yes, two rupees!)
-Asking for some local/nattu medication for some ailment
-to take some traditional farm equipments on rent (ofcourse nominal rent)
-to get some seeds
-to get some advise on value additions or to plan next crop etc
-to get some electrical or electronic repairs
-to get some minimal lathe work (like welding or minor repairs) done for free or low cost
-to ‘buy’ some value added products like bringraj thel, tooth powder, herbal golis, etc
-some kids come regularly asking for the free notebook, pens, pencils?

Reading all this what do u make of this place?
By any chance an organic farm??

That’s Dhirendra Soneji’s and Smita Soneji’s fabulous farm!
This is one extraordinary couple who were professors in an Engineering college at Ahmedabad. When they were in their early 30s (25 years back) they asked themselves this great question ‘whats important for/in life?’.
They quickly arrived at ‘health’ and so the question of ‘what are we doing here in a city then’ came up.
They decided there was no sense in making money as that could’nt get them the required health nor satisfaction. The city or the urban life style will not help it too. So they decided to take it in to their hands, literally.
So they decide to buy a piece of land in some rural corner and practice agriculture and to take care of their health. So all in one shot. Health, simple living, controlling own destiny, healthy n tasty food, happy living.
Man! They are having all that now and its only increasing:-)
This 2.5 acre land that they bought from their total savings (actually they had to postpone their decision of moving by an year to save that much funds) was near Rajpipla, a quaint village called Saakwa with some 100 households (total population 500 in this predominantly adi vaasis village). From there on their journey is so interesting. They build their house with minimal stuff but beautifully, use Humanure and Gobar for cooking and lighting,
Some solar was added later and in the recent past one point electricity connection is taken to support the sons’ computer requirements. Their acumen and learning help them plan everything they wud need for their food and so make a great sustainable plan. All the prudent multi and mixed cropping and half acre of fruit trees is only for self consumption. They don’t even sell milk.
Many organic farms are sustainable and out of the grid, but this one has stretched that beyond all imagination. They even grew cotton and hand weaved and made their own clothes too. That’s why they are rated so high. They reached 60% self sufficiency in the 1st year and now they are at 90%. In a place with 14 inch rainfall they harvest 8 grains, 8 pulses, 25 types of veg n fruits, 5 tubers and spices (like turmeric, Dhaniya, methi, ajwain). 200 flora species in all that invite some 70 brid species. All this in a 2.5 acre farm!
But Wait! There are more facets that make them soar even higher.

The fact that such a decision was taken when they were just 30 years old is incredible.
They also decided not to send their kids to school but educated them, themselves. Every thing that the kids wanted was given. Plus these 2 were always there to teach them farming, other basics and languages. The kids are now grown in to well groomed adults who not only have mastered farming but are also well equipped in to many facets like computers (ofcourse social networking too), alternate energy and lots of other skills. I could meet only Vishven who in my opinion is gearing for future articles to be written on him!
Dhirendraji, as I told earlier, is a maverick who is muliti talented. He not only learnt agriculture but also was a king of many other skills like lathe, machining, design, all round knowledge. Smita ben would not only freak out with her cooking but in many other areas lke traditional medicine, preparation of many new/traditional stuff, preserving seeds and ofcourse participates in farming activities too. So between them they cater to a village! Talk of being self sufficient, within a family!
Dhirenji would also make lotsa implements, tools useful for farming and hence many farmers who cant afford buying or making, rent it from them. Yes, they do plough their land bcos there is more Calcium in the soil and hence hardens and doesn’t allow water to seep in. the roots do not get to grow well, he said and hence they need to plough. So more areas for him to innovate and design tools and implements!
While there are many things he has designed and made (manufactured) himself, the unbeatable stuff IMO is his handy oil mill!
It’s an amazing machine which has an efficiency of 35% for the seeds like Till, Groundnut etc (meaning if u mill 1kg, u get 350ml of oil where as the industry norm will be 400-450ml!). so whats amazing, eh? The normal output apart from oil is the oil cake (punnakku in tamil) but in his case u get the seed -a bit crushed- but can be used as a grain (for cooking ofcourse not as seed!). I was lucky to try 1 kg of till (sesame) and we got 350ml with our hand power and the till that was got after the process was very much in shape and Smitaben stored it. (will be used for chutney powder and in some dishes!)

Dhirendra soneji and Smita ben are so cool about all this and only think any one who admires them only has to try it and thnk it’s the right way ahead.
Dhirenji infact asked me in all seriousness “ if u think so high of what we do and of organic farming, why are u going around and not doing it yourself? Don’t u think the farmers will feel, why this fella who is not practising it himself is telling us? Don’t u think there are enough NGOs to spread this awareness”. Right! That’s the best thing to do and that’s where W & me wud head finally..but for now, I wish to use my networking skill and energy to popularize it and spread the awareness. Like how I changed for good and realized the benefits of organic/natural farming, health aspects, traditional practises, etc I wish I can help some more convert.

some fotos here!

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  • At July 25, 2010 2:58 AM, Blogger csm said…

    you may consider that the energy will be most needed and useful in the farm itself when you get there..

  • At July 25, 2010 7:21 AM, Blogger Karpagam said…

    boss, look at it this way... if one city dweller converts it benefits his family (and some small trickle through friends if any), but if one farmer converts seeing your actions in the farm then soil and therefore mankind benefits (mruda ka asthitv = manavta ka asthitv :-) )(rings a bell?). I know we are pushing it ;-)

  • At July 25, 2010 8:59 AM, Blogger csm said…

    ore netthi, pala adi...

  • At July 25, 2010 10:08 AM, Blogger Ananthoo said…

    enna pa orey wrong number;-)
    hmm getting the a bit slow in all took me 35 years to go eco friendly:-)

  • At July 28, 2010 12:14 AM, Anonymous Raj said…

    That sounds great. Looks like phenomenal people they are. Good you could see them and let us know by blogging.

  • At July 28, 2010 5:14 AM, Blogger Erik said…

    with interest did I read your artikle "Sortenvielfalt speichern" in the German periodical KULTURAUSTAUSCH. I am well aware what Monsanto is trying to do,is doing in India by forcing farmers to use their modified grains, bankrupting them in the process. Monsanto is doing this, with the support of the US government, in many countries. Their methods including chemical fertilizers is a great threat to nature. A Swiss research company has proven Monsanto wrong by trying their natural method successfully in Kenya. The Indian government must stop Monsanto. In Europe modified grains are outlawed! I would like to help, please let me know how I can be be of assistance.

  • At July 28, 2010 5:26 AM, Blogger Erik said…

    The human race has to remember that it is part of nature, not above nature. It must find its way back to natural living, giving back to nature rather than just taking from it, in restoring what has been damaged. Bring back the forests. Forests sustain nature the most. For example, make North Africa green again. There is enough water under the surface. Use wind and solar power to generate electricity with which to pump the water to the surface, pump the water through 'drip irrigation pipes' in order to water trees, bushes, plants of all kinds. Generate enough electricity to be used by the natives for cooking, washing, refrigerators, etc. Then the natives do not have to cut any more trees to be used as fire wood. The can cook on electric stoves! India is also a place to use wind and solar generators for electricity, for cooking on electric stoves, to pump water for homes and fields, to plant trees, bushes, plants, vegetables, fruit, grains.

  • At July 28, 2010 5:51 AM, Blogger Ananthoo said…

    Thanks Erik! for your kind words and the offer to help! Yes, Monsanto is a monster to be stopped else they can steam roll governments and bankrupt culture and population across the globe. Do send me any information esp reg that Swiss firms role in Kenya to ananthoo(at)hotmail{dot}com. All that you have said on alternate energy is true. I will have more to write on alternate energy in coming days. thanks again.

  • At July 28, 2010 5:52 AM, Blogger Ananthoo said…

    thanks Raj! yes it was like a pilgrimage for me- Bhaskar save, jayesh Bhai and Dhirenjaji! Gujarat trip was great.

  • At July 28, 2010 5:56 PM, Blogger it6 said…

    Using the oilseed after extracting oil is a new concept gives a new perspective to sustainability and the concept of zero waste. Though a lot is to be done on the macro front (read industries), there will be a time when all such micro-level efforts will snowball and force industries to follow eco-friendly methods or altogether shut down operations.

  • At July 29, 2010 1:04 AM, Blogger Arun said…

    Your blog gives an entirely different perspective of Gujarat!! Offlate, Gujarat has been in news for all wrong reasons. It is an eye opener what a few committed individuals can do. What you have uncovered might just be a tip of the iceberg. Very refreshing. Hopefully the rolling stone gathers enough moss to bring about a significant change in our lifetime.

  • At August 01, 2010 9:20 PM, Blogger Ananthoo said…

    @it6 - er Balaji! thats hope..ya, lets hope such efforts have bigger impact.

    @Arun- oh yes! even i was stunned at the diff Guj that I saw..prolly impact of the man- Gandhi is strong over there!

  • At August 02, 2010 6:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I came across this blog of late. Very impressive. Can I get contact information of Dhirendra Soneji. It will be nice to meet such marvelous people.
    At the same time a short note on Gujarat. If you decide the picture of Gujarat based on media then it's wrong. Reason is : Media is in the business of making money not serving people. Gandhi was for serving not for making money. For me Ananthoo's blog will be good media (till he serves with good intention), not what Times of India writes. Media writes about how better our GDP is and how booming economy is. We all know the reality (if you visit the village and see how family happiness destroyed).
    So if you want to know the reality just visit rather than reading media (with commercial interest). Wasn't that the reason why India became occupied by others....(because of wrong information).


  • At August 04, 2010 11:54 PM, Blogger Ananthoo said…

    Hi Vijay! Yes, we shud visit such inspiring persons. atleast that can be a motivation. here is Dhirendra's res no. 02640291173. for any further info kindly send a mail to ananthoo{at}hotmaildotcom. as for ur comments on media, blogs and other tools are a great move towards free media. But we shud know to pick, choose and analyse.

  • At August 05, 2010 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks a lot for information.


  • At August 14, 2010 4:22 AM, Blogger Erik said…

    Sorry for the late reply regarding the destructive agricultural methods of Monsanto.
    There are two Swiss organizations that have developed natural methods to increase crop yield and for improving the soil quality. It is being applied successfully, among others, in Kenia:
    Swiss Forum for International Agricultural Research,
    Swiss Federal Research Station for Agriculture,

    Erik Wassenich

  • At August 16, 2012 8:08 AM, Blogger shweta said…

    Stayed with them for a month and it changed my life

    Shweta kikla samag

  • At February 17, 2013 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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