Person of the Week: Chandrashekhar Bhadsavle

Dear Readers,

In this interview series where we ask few questions to people who are making a difference, it can be big, it can be small it doesn’t matter what matters is their contribution to our society. It can be anyone from any walks of life and from any country. Please, do send us suggestions of people whom you think we should interview for this series.

 Chandrashekhar Hari Bhadsavle is a successful farmer living in Raigarh in the state of Maharashtra in India. He successfully implemented agricultural innovations like Agro Tourism and Zero Till Farming through Saguna Rice Technique (SRT). He has given lectures and discourses on these innovations in farming all over the world and has won many accolades for his work. Following are his responses on some of our questions.

 1. Tell us something about yourself?
Son of a Gandhian Freedom Fighter, late Shri. Harikaka Bhadsavle, born & raised on farm near Neral, Dist. Raigad of Maharashtra. As my father decided to spend his life time energy for upliftment of adivasi (aboriginals) children, I  grew up with them. I benefited by understanding nature with the aboriginal culture around me. I finished my under graduate in agriculture (1970) & proceeded for post-graduation in Food Technology at university of California, Davis (M.S. 1972)  and worked in various food companies in California between 1972-75 & returned for good in the beginning of 1976 due to motivation of my Father. Upon arrival to our family farm in the village, my father ask me to
do such work in agriculture which will be useful to other farmers & they can use the same for their betterment. Thus since 1976 I have been personally following the goal , “To find sustainable, worthwhile livelihood through Farming profession.”
2. Can you describe Agro-tourism for our readers, what goal did you sought to achieve through this?
I was trying many different ways to make good money through agriculture activities, to name a few dairy, horticulture, agro forestry, field crops, fishery/aquaculture & so on. But found out that there is no dignity for farming profession. After twilling for 10 years my wife Anuradha, a Cancer Immunologist finally had to accept a job in local high school for effective survival. I found out the hard way that dignity is fourth necessity of human survival before food, clothing & shelter. Dignity can only come to farmer by sharing his knowledge of food production. Agro Tourism can be a precise activity where a Farmer can achieve this goal. Thus I have defined Agro Tourism as, ‘An activity organised by farmer himself on his active farm where leisure learning & fun is combined together.
3. Why should farmers consider zero till farming?
We all are standing at an edge of a complex & dreaded situation of Food shortage & Global Warming. While only green plants can arrest escaped atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2); at the same time farming practices are causing emission of Greenhouse gases such as methane (CH4). This is especially true with the crop like rice which is steeple food for more than 50% people of the world. Microorganisms are the most important players in providing ability to the plant for food production. Whether they are aerobic or anaerobic determines their impact; in case of aerobic it causes Carbon fixation on the other hand in case anaerobic they cause methane generation. They are absolutely necessity for plant survival & performance. According to environmental soil microbiologists ploughing soil once is equivalent to one wildfire, one flood, one tornado, one tsunami & one earthquake putting all together, the same effect for the soil microbes of that soil.
4. How should a country like India balance the food demand and environmental impact of farming?
Team SRT at Saguna Baug has evolved rice based no till farming system. This is the complete solution for rice growing countries like India for overcoming catastrophic problems of Food Shortage and Global Warming. This is the technique of growing rotation crops without ploughing, puddling, transplanting and hoeing. SRT saves a lot of
treacherous labour, reduces cost of production and increases productivity. SRT assures Carbon Fixation in the soil, immensely improving soil fertility. Above all SRT gives happiness to the participating farmer. Thus SRT can assure quick improvements in higher food production and green cover on the soil.
5. Is there a viable and cost effective alternative of chemicals and fertilizers used in farms?
Trying to look for alternative method of crop production where chemicals and fertilizers are completely avoided has seized soon after the objectives such as feeding ever increasing population, making agriculture a economically viable & attractive proposal, mitigating climate change and so have popped up. On the contrary use of chemicals & fertilizers should be done carefully, effectively & with proper scientific knowledge. The scientific fact is that Organic Carbon of the soil must go above 1% up to 2.5 – 3%. Today’s average Organic Carbon of India is less than 0.5%. When Motherly Earth is about to commit suicide or die due to chronic illness the immediate attention must be taken for increasing Organic Carbon as soon as possible. Use of Gobar manure & vermicompost is recommended by today’s system which is neither practical nor effective. Ploughing, which is the first step following in all so called modern
agriculture is the most detrimental thing we are doing to our soil, water conservation, carbon sequestration & to sustainable productivity of our soil. In today’s situation especially in rice growing areas SRT is the only way where I see Earthworms, Butterflies, Birds, Reptiles, Frogs & productivity are quickly returning. SRT is using just enough chemicals & fertilizers to support the effects mentioned here. There is also sure hope & scientific proof that the use of chemicals will reduce automatically as percentage of Organic Carbon goes up in the soil. Use of chemicals is not the first choice of any farmer.
6. Farmers in India face a lot of challenges such as price fluctuation, debt, lack of infrastructure, weather and the list goes on, what’s the solution to some, if not all of these problems in your opinion?
Farmers of India are facing multi-dimensional problems. I’m trying to address just few from the perspective of use of SRT method

a. Price Fluctuation – SRT is mainly aimed at short duration food crops such as grains, pulses and oil seeds. Also because there is no tillage operation in between two crops, quick change over of type of crop is possible. Such a situation also arises at the time of natural calamities such as hail storms. Thus bad effects of monitory gains can be bypassed easily.
b. Debt- The basic investment and cost of production is so very low that farmer doesn’t have to depend on financial assistance all the time.
c. Lack of infrastructure- There is least jugglery of machinery and equipments in SRT method makes farmer independent on infrastructure such as road, diesel, tractor, etc.
d. Weather- SRT is a ‘Climate-smart’ method, proved to be easily adaptable & having ability to mitigate climate change.
7. Why should youngsters consider farming as a career option?
Quote by Warren Buffet, “Farmers will drive Ferrari & IT experts will drive their tractors” about which I have no doubts. Food shortage is inevitable & hence able youth must lay their hands at the product which will be short supply & which is absolutely necessity. Of course this whole thing is fairly slow process of adaptation. Hence youth must stop where they are & put their hands in soil.
8. Your message for our readers?
I’m very sure that in coming year’s food will be so short that it will not be available easily by exchange of paper money. To get food for survive in future you must Find a Farmer Friend.

 

6 Comments

  1. tons and tons and tons of food is rotted every year because there is no provision to store them properly . when wheat and other products are collected from the farmers it lies in open covered at times but seldom with tarpaulin then when it rains it rots , there are no proper godowns where it can be stored or else rodents feed on them
    true there may come a future when farmers may give up farming considering the many suicides committed by them because of loan repayments and loss because of natural disasters like too much rain, scarcity of rain or hail

  2. Great interview. Revesling inputs from the horses mouth.Thanks to Shri Chandrshekhar and Indian Periodicsl.

  3. Chandrashekhar says:

    My response to Madam Shobha :

    I agree that my language may not be appealing, but please read the article carefully and feel the contents from your heart from ‘farmer’s dignity’ point of it and not ‘farmer’s suicide’ point. Also rather than thinking ‘how government machinery is wrong, think how can each one of us give courage to a farmer who in turn will save you during expected food shortage in future.’ Do not think that you will ‘ adapt a farmer’, its very insulting thought to us farmers.

  4. V. Balasubramanian. says:

    Dear Shekhar,

    Great interview and very useful message to all. You are right, a time will come when food will be so scarce that people will fight for survival with whatever food they can get hold of. Our politicians will never understand this, so they will pay the price heavily. But who cares?

    Please focus more on pulses to get more income for farmers.

    God bless you with your good service to the community.

    Bala.

  5. Very logical and practical analysis for survival and prosperity of farmers. Thus ensuring abundant food for coming generations of human beings. We salute you Shekhar Dada.

  6. Ritam Vachmi, Satyam Vachmi.

    Those who believe in science of Jyotish, should follow this man.
    Those who DO NOT believe in science of Jyotish, should also, follow this man.

    Because there is no science greater than knowing the factual truth of “natural design”; and this man lives it knowingly + spreads it feelingly.

    I would personally seek transformation in my life at the lotus feet of this man and his team, if he allows like-minded people like some of us who intend to leave cities and go back to roots….

    – Swanand.

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