An extraordinary feat of a humble farmer
ByRajiv Mani, TNN | Feb 28, 2013, 04.08 AM IST
ALLAHABAD: This farmer has not passed even class X but his work baffles the best of agricultural scientists of the country. Meet Jai Prakash Singh, a poor peasant from a rural pocket of Varanasi, whose work on high yielding indigenous seeds, has been honoured by two former Presidents and has developed a treasure of 460 varieties of paddy, 120 of wheat, 30 of pulses (arhar) and four of mustard, which have been approved and are to be registered by the state government.
Striving towards the aim of providing cheap yet high yielding variety of indigenous seeds, those developed by Singh are being used by farmers not only in UP but in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Bihar and West Bengal too besides being the subject of research for various agricultural scientists of different universities of the country. His work, which started way back in 1990, won him honours twice, first in 2002 by former President APJ Abdul Kalam Azad and again in the year 2009 by Pratibha Devi Singh Patil. It is the credentials of his work for which he is invited to meetings of several core research groups that deal with finding out ways of increasing agricultural produce. Wheat seeds, HJPW 151 and HJPW8661, developed by him have been aproved by the UP government to get registered.
While one of the wheat seeds developed by him yields 79 quintals per hectare of land, while the paddy seed (HJPW157) he has developed looks like cumin seeds and come in a combo pack, getting ready in just 130 days using far less quantum of water, said Singh, on a visit of Maha Kumbh to spread awareness among more and more farmers about his work.
“After failing the class X exam, I had nothing to do but to roam idle in the fields and that is when I noticed a particular wheat germ, among the countless grown in the field, which was far more healthy and contained more grains. I plucked some of those plants and sowed the seeds in the next Rabi season and got favourable result,” said Singh. After the modest beginning, I realised the goal of my life and started collecting these high yielding indigenous seeds, which had always been there, to the aid of poor farmers but got forgotten when hybrid seeds were available in the market, he added.
“The GM (genetically modified) seeds available in the market are ruining poor farmers who have stopped conserving old seeds which were originally used for sowing, earlier,” said this pioneering ‘desi’ scientist who is spreading his ‘zero-budget’ technique of farming with the help of his army of around 80 peasants belonging to nine villages neighbouring his native village Tadiyan of Rajatalab, Varanasi. We use a mixture of cow-dung, cow-urine and gud (jaggery), flour (of gram or arhar) and water and put in the fields and needless to say, we do not use need fertilizer or chemicals, yet the yield is far better than with hybrid seeds. “Moreover, by saving a portion of the harvest, the farmer retains his seeds and need not purchase costly hybrid seeds”, he said.
“It pains to see that although government is propagating the idea of organic farming, it does not talk of conserving our indigenous seeds which is the only way to protect our farmers,” said Singh, who experiments in 3 acres of land in his native village which is visited by VIPs to get a glimpse of the miracle this poor peasant has done. “I have sold my seeds at the rate of Rs 20 per kg and take a signed undertaking from the poor farmers that they would sell it further at the same rate after getting a good harvest. This is how a poor farmer can help his fellow farmers,” said Singh.