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Shailesh Gor, city farmer, Gujarat

Shailesh Gor, a builder and civil contractor who lives in Bhuj, Kutch  wanted fresh cow’s milk -herefore he bought 2.25 acres of land near Bhuj so that he could keep his own cows. This was in 1995. The land is six kilometers from Shailesh’s residence in Bhuj, at Madhapar, and cost him five lakh rupees per acre.  Although Bhuj has a local vegetable market, the vegetables sold there are trucked in from long distances and become droopy by the time they reach the consumer. So Shailesh decided to grow his own vegetables as well.

As this is a semi-desert area, Shailesh installed drip irrigation with a govt. subsidy. He has his own borewell on the farm, so irrigation is a breeze for him.  He now has four Gir cows and one bull. Shailesh manages to get three litres of milk per day on an average from his cows. He plants seasonal vegetables like ladies finger, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, spinach, coriander , fenugreek  and gavar etc. Bajra, wheat and jowar are also planted during the winter months. He has planted papaya, banana, chikoo, mango, coconut, amla and lemon trees.  The cowdung is converted into manure and used on the farm. Shailesh saves his own seeds so his expenditure on seeds and manure is very little. He does keep a watchman cum farmhand called Lakho   who is paid a monthly salary of Rs. 5000.  The farm is run on a no profit no loss basis. The farm output covers the major heads of expenditure.

But the salary given to the farmhand is more than offset by the fresh farm produce and fresh milk which Shailesh gets in return. If he has any surplus vegetables, he sells them to his neighbours and any surplus milk from his cows is also sold to people who live in his locality. He only buys staples like potatoes and onions from the Bhuj market and occasionally some vegetables like green capsicum which do not grow locally. Otherwise Shailesh’s family  consumes vegetables grown on the farm.

Lakho the farmhand, feeds the cows, milks them, operates the drip system and does the major work involved in planting, weeding and harvesting. Some casual labour is hired for harvesting the wheat, bajra and jowar. At 50, Shailesh is sprightly and active  and visits his farm 3-4 times a week. Along with Lakho he manages the major operations on the farm. Shailesh’s family visits rarely.

By mulching the growing beds, having drip irrigation and practicing no-till farming, Shailesh has cut down on his farm’s water consumption and labour requirements. A net house has also been constructed for growing some delicate vegetables.

Pottering on his farm on the weekends keeps him busy and happy. The fresh organic produce in the semi-desert region of Kutch, keeps his family healthy. The fresh produce and the satisfaction of doing eco-friendly organic farming are the greatest rewards  of owning and running this small farm.

Email: ashutosh.gor@gmail.com