Natural Farmers chill out with traditional health drinks
‘No Pesticides No Coke’ seems to be the catchphrase among 80 plus villagers – 40 women and 40 natural farmers. They all pledged it while attending a natural farming workshop at village Bhotna. Both men and women attended the workshop with an urge to learn and understand the basic concepts of natural farming and plan for their crop mix for the Kharif season.
The meeting/workshop was almost like a mini festival where some participants where serving tea and water to the participants. People were heartily involved to make it successful. The scorching heat doesn’t stop them from assembling in the local Gurdwara and thanks to a few Gurdwaras in villages where we still see a bunch of trees intact and we can still enjoy the bounties of nature.
Banner after banner shows the way forward. Although the women’s meeting was supposedly conducted to understand the preparation and importance of traditional drinks, they fully enjoyed the training workshop with the farmers.
After a long session on practicalities of natural farming, natural ways of pest management by way of understanding the life cycle of pests. People realized that pest management is possible without using pesticides. No Pesticides No Pest is a practical thing. It came out clear from the response of the participants that 40 plus farmers will grow the crops and vegetables by natural methods. After that the KVM team discussed the nutritional benefits of millets.
The comparison between Bajra, Rice and Wheat surprised everybody as the former scores more in terms of Iron/Minerals/Beta Carotene/ Vitamins and Calcium on the nutritional chart. Whereas many women have already increased their intake of bajra, some newcomers recalled that their parents and grandparents used Bajra as their essential component of their diets and are healthier than them.
The total cropped area under Bajra cultivation in Punjab in 1960-61 was 123,000 hectares which has reduced to meager 5,000 hectare in the year 2005-06. The difference is visible not only in the number of hectares but also in the public health. There have been some folk orations which reflect a strong association between Bajra and strength of teeth and bones.
Benefits of Bajra are not only confined to human health only, it works well to create biodiversity in the fields. It was a wonderful experience that more than fifteen couple, both husband and wives present in the meeting decided to grow millets at a small scale and they also motivate others to try millet cultivation.
A group of women of landless families mostly dalit and farm labourers also joined the meeting to get seeds to grow vegetables in their courtyards. The kitchen gardening and the self reliance in vegetables is catching the insights of more and more women. Really, Natural farming also brings equality, equity and social justice in society without any political jingle.
In the end everybody was served with seven kinds of traditional drinks made from fruits like mango and Bel, Jaggery etc. Farmers in the 50 plus category said that they are tasting the traditional drink prepared from Barley and Jaggery after 30 years. The rounds of sharbats were an interesting scene and almost everybody pledged for a ‘SAY NO TO COKE’. When asked who will shun the use of COKE, everybody raised hands in response and will only serve traditional drinks in their homes. Women decided to learn the recipes to prepare traditional drinks and will involve more women in the process of learning. The meeting was attended by a host of children from the village who got double servings of all the drinks as they were shifting bases while the drinks were being served.
Meeting ended in a festivity mood and a strong will to go natural and make their field Pesticide free and make their homes Pesticide - Coke Free. Thanks to time-honored drinks.
Village Bhotna, district Barnala
May 13, 2009