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Monday, Nov 29, 2021
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Once Upon A Time In A Desert

He's ensured sufficient water, organic manure and even a social transformation of the village

Once Upon A Time In A Desert
Once Upon A Time In A Desert
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Meet the man who made it happen: Laxman Singh, a simple farmer with a simple dream. "I visualised a village at harmony with nature, self-reliant and prosperous," says this farmer-turned-green activist. "I knew the kind of farming we were doing was wrong. We were interfering with nature, subverting natural processes. No good would come of this." Large flats of wasteland bordered the village and water was hard to come by, he recalls. This was in the mid-1980s, when ‘sustainable agriculture’ was not yet part of the policymaker’s vocabulary.

Singh mooted a unique watershed management scheme, dove-tailed with animal husbandry and organic farming. It was low-cost and community-driven. The village elders were convinced. The watershed management project was executed by the village itself. Says he, "We evolved what we now call the chauka system. A series of bunds, channels and pits were dug over a 5-km stretch, in a checker board-like pattern, following the natural slope of the land." Water is thus channelled into the ponds and wells, which are desilted annually in a shram daan programme involving every woman, man and child. Gradually, the wastelands were transformed into rich pastures.

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