Outstanding in his Field

As an agriculturist who promotes natural farming, Sanjay Patil, who was recently awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India, is on a mission to plant smiles and harvest love while doing his bit for the environment

Sanjay Patil, an innovative farmer hailing from Savoi-Verem has been conferred with the coveted Padma Shri 2024 by the Government of India for his remarkable contributions to natural farming and zero-energy micro-irrigation system. Patil is a green revolutionary, known to many as the ‘one-man-army’ as he single-handedly transformed an arid plot of land measuring ten acres, into a lush green natural farm (kulaghar) with technical guidance from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) – Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute (CCARI), Goa.
Born and brought up in Savoi-Verem, he did his schooling in the village school till the eighth standard and then went to his uncle’s home at Shiroda to complete his education.
Patil’s family were into agriculture and he grew up surrounded by lush fields fed by natural water bodies surrounding his house; which contributed to his love for farming right up from a young age. He would help his family in the fields usually after school and during vacations; and there was no doubt in his mind that he would like to continue in the footsteps of his ancestors by taking up the noble profession of farming.
Having observed his father and uncle toiling away in the fields, Patil decided to transform a 10 acre piece of land into a ‘kulaghar’ or a plantation. After receiving technical guidance from the Agriculture Department and the ICAR-CCARI, Goa when it came to important aspects like pest management with regards to crops, health and disease management of cattle, the ‘kulaghar’ today has various cash crops like arecanut, black pepper, cashew, pineapple and coconuts growing there. As a firm believer in natural farming practices, Patil has been using ‘jeevamrut’ produced from cow dung for the past several years at the ‘kulaghar.’ The main issue at the plantation was that of water. In the months of April and May, these villages in the interiors would face acute water shortage; so Patil had the bright idea of building a tunnel to facilitate the supply of water to the plantation as well as engaged in drip irrigation for water conservation. The organic waste produced at the plantation is then used as in mulching, which eliminates the need for depending on external sources for disposal of waste.
Patil received the coveted Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)-Innovative Farmer Award 2023, for his excellence in natural farming and zero-energy micro-irrigation system.
Patil says that in this day and age, natural farming practices is hugely advantageous as the cost of production is lower, which benefits the farmer in the long run. “Mechanised farming requires large investments and while it is faster, one does not need to depend on machines. One is self-sufficient and less investments means more profit for the farmers.”
Further, he also mentions that there are plenty of government schemes if one wants to take up agriculture as a profession. “There are schemes available from the primary level; but people have to take an interest in finding out information about these schemes. I feel that the government should start educating children from the primary level about the importance of agriculture and natural farming.
As of now, we usually have one chapter on agriculture in books which is not enough. It should be a whole separate subject, at each grade which will make children as well as our youth understand about the benefits of farming and growing your own crops.”
Patil encourages people to visit his ‘kulaghar’ so that people can understand and learn from him, while one day having their own plantations which will go a long way in making one self-sufficient.
His biggest source of support is his family, consisting of his mother, wife and two children; who are instrumental in helping him on the plantation as well as motivating him.
Patil has a message for the people of Goa, especially the youth, “If one has a piece of land, its best to take up agriculture instead of idling one’s time away. Growing your own crops means it is free of preservatives and chemicals which make it healthy. This way one can be self-sufficient, while also providing jobs to people who are interested in farming. Farming is not a trend; it is a commitment to our local community as well as the environment”

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