Many of us are aware of the benefits of organic food and its generous produce. But occasionally, the extraordinary efforts of organic farmers make even those of us who regularly cover such news take notice. Rajasthan’s Moti Singh Rawat, an Army man turned organic farmer, has done just that, thanks to his foot-long green chillies!
“I was declared specially challenged after suffering an injury during a night route patrol in 1992. I recovered from my injuries and retired from the services in 1995 as a Jawan. I decided to take up farming in my native village Selma of Rajasthan,” said 51-year-old Moti Singh.
The shift from using toxic chemicals to organic mixtures
Investing a sum of Rs 1.20 Lakh he received during his retirement, the ex-army man decided to grow tomatoes in less than an acre of land.
“I earned Rs 80,000 from the first harvest and started taking farming on additional land which I took up as lease,” he added.
Moti Singh said like many traditional farmers, he initially started using hybrid farming techniques with the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers. “Over the next few years, I realised the soil was not holding water due to the continuous use of fertilisers. The fertility had also deteriorated greatly,” he added.
The army man said he could only take one harvest in a year, making it difficult to farm. “In 2008, I decided to shift to organic farming methods and started seeing the difference,” he added.
Moti Singh said he also created a poly house in half an acre of land to grow capsicum, chillies, tomatoes and cucumber. The remaining land grows wheat, corn and other vegetables.
“I learned that the capsicum is sold at Rs 100 a kg. Different varieties sell for Rs 200 a kg as well. This helped me earn Rs 30,000 a month from half an acre of land alone,” he added.
Protecting plants from harsh weather
Moti Singh said that he returned the soil to fertility by adding organic nutrition like cow dung, cow urine and other natural mixtures to make vermicompost.
“In 2019, I was surprised to see a green chilly of the Indian variety growing 1.2 feet long. It was astounding. The chilly was into its third year of harvest with the grafting method and the seeds had been evolved over the past five years, from previous harvests,” the farmer said.
Moti Singh said that he took a lot of care to get the success he achieved. “I used a fogger and water spraying techniques in the poly house during peak summer days. The temperatures in Rajasthan scale to about 40-50 degrees Celsius,” he said.
The farmer said that fogging and spraying of water helped to reduce temperatures inside the facility. “Besides I stored buttermilk for six months before adding it to the plants. I used juices from tamarind leaves to replace Boron, sprayed extraction of tobacco, neem and custard apple leaves to prevent any infection during the growth of the plants,” he added.
Moti Singh also said he experimented successfully with corn and bajra leaves extract to prevent infection at the root of the plants, due to Nematodes.
Chandan Gaikwad, a Pune based farmer practising toxin-free farming says the feat is achievable. “It depends on the variety of chilly. If the chilly has the genes to be longer, organic methods often help the seeds achieve full growth,” he adds.
Chandan said that such miraculous examples are also seen in sugarcane growing. “I know about sugarcane shooting up to 20 feet during organic methods,” he added.
Aim for Guinness World Record
Moti Singh says that a lot of time and effort was invested in achieving success. “I aim to achieve a Guinness world record for longest chilly,” he adds.
Moti Singh says he wants to send a message to the youngsters. “The younger generation feels that farming is difficult and non-profitable. The reason for me to set up the poly house is to present an example of profitable and successful farming,” he adds.
Apart from various awards received from the government for innovative farming, ministers and government officials often pay a visit to the farm. “Many farmers and neighbouring villagers take inspiration and guidance for better farming results. I wish to inspire as many youngsters possible,” Moti Singh said.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)