25 year old Arvind Nigam, a colleague and a former student in a 11-month course conducted at People’s Science Institute has changed the way hill-folks in the remote Revati Valley of Bageshwar District, farm today.
When many talk about migration from the hills to the plains, here is a endearing story of Arvind Nigam, a young post-graduate from Sidhi District in Madhya Pradesh who left his roots to set up home in the mountains of Uttarakhand. He has done wonders when it comes to traditional farming.
Over the phone, Arvind tells us, “I choose the hills as I love being amongst the hills and its folks. Farming here is an uphill task and I was inspired to use my BSc. education as well as PSI training in bringing about a positive change in the lives of the hill-folks.”
For the two years now, the young boy has worked hard to convince the folks here to adapt his idea of alternate farming i.e. sowing wheat, vegetables, corn, paddy saplings in a straight line, at regular intervals to increase production. An idea, that two monsoons later has begun to bear fruit. Today, this model has been replicated in the eight villages of Badeth, Shama, Shelisama, Seeri, Ulanidhar, Kaflani, Leeti and Badi Paniyal hamlets, which are home to some six hundred families.
Initially, 28-year-old Bimla Devi of Burmola in Badeth was apprehensive about Arvind’s techniques. She says: “We weren’t really convinced about his new techniques of farming. Arvind bhaiya tried hard to convince us to try planting saplings in a row, on a small patch of land. Result? We have increased our produce by 5-7 kg without recourse to urea.”
Today, Arvind thanks Khashti Koranga of the Women Help Group and Bhagwat Singh Koranga, President of Revati Valley Mahasangh who welcomed him and his unique idea with open-arms which has led to a revolution in farming in the area.
“Not only do they produce enough to eat well, 90% of the extra produce is sent to the main market in Bageshwar where this organic food is mopped up in a few hours. This makes women financially independent,” Arvind adds.
Talking about his prodigy, Ravi Chopra of People’s Science Institute speaks with pride, “Arvind’s work on mobilizing local villages for Gram Swaraj and promoting low external input, is truly inspiring.”
It is hoped that many more ‘Arvinds’ will find their true calling in the hills of Uttarakhand to bring their skill and expertise. This is, at present, the only way forward in striking a body blow to the ugly monster of migration.