Interviewed and written by Cameron Hawkins
How long have you been working at CRHP?
I have been working at CRHP for 18 years.
How and why did you end up working at CRHP?
I used to work as a contract laborer for the Government, and one of my contracts was to dig pits for drumstick trees at CRHP. I really liked CRHP, so slowly I started to work more with them. Dr. Raj Arole was very impressed with my work ethic, so he appointed me to continue working at CRHP.
What did you learn from Dr. Raj Arole, and what are some of your memories of him?
I learned how to grow pomegranates, how to use drip irrigation systems, and new techniques for growing vegetables. I was excited to learn these new techniques and was easily able to adopt them and implement them at the farm. I also helped milk the cows and learned how to identify signs and symptoms of health problems. Dr. Raj always asked to make sure I was doing well. When I was doing contract work for the Government, I was not earning sufficient funds to support my family because every penny I made I gave to my brother. So, once Dr. Raj offered me to stay and work at CRHP, I separated from my brother. Ever since then, I have been able to support my wife and kids and marry off my children. I was also able to buy some goats from CRHP, which my wife is breeding. Now we both have incomes, mine from CRHP and hers from the goats. Dr. Arole used to ask me about my whole family and if they were doing well or not, which I really appreciated. He offered a job to my wife, provided free medication for my family, and supported my family to live on the farm. He was very generous. Once Dr. Raj gave my family an entire crop of millet.
In general, what have you learned from working at CRHP?
I have learned about goat rearing, how to manage a dairy, and sustainable farming techniques. I am now fit to do and manage anything related to farming. If anyone tells me to do something with the farm, I can do it easily.
Do you share what you have learned here with others in your community? If so, how?
I share my knowledge with many farmers from my village. For example, if someone is having a problem with water scarcity, I usually suggest to him or her to use drip irrigation. Now, up to 10 of my friends are using drip irrigation by taking advantage of government subsidies. I also share the uses of drumstick and tamarind trees with my friends.
What is your favorite part about working at the farm?
My favorite part is working with the sorghum.
Where did you get your motivation?
I am naturally a hard worker. When I used to work as a contract laborer with the Government, the good feedback I got from the workers encouraged me. Once an officer said that I was so hard working I should be getting paid more money than him. Since I have been working at CRHP, Dr. Raj and Jayesh, CRHP’s Training Manager, now motivate me.
What changes have you seen in the farm?
There have been a lot of changes, but specifically the cropping pattern has changed. In the beginning, we had crops that needed a lot of water, but now because of the drought, we are farming with less water. For livestock, the situation is about the same. Now, the farm is much more sustainable, and we are depending less on the outside market. Before I joined, we had to buy sorghum for animal fodder, but now we are growing our own sorghum, grains, and vegetables.
What was the drought situation like 18 years ago when you came to CRHP?
We had water 18 years ago. Then after 4-5 years, there started to be scarcity with water, so we had to change the cropping pattern. To accommodate, we started using drought resistant crops.
Is there anything that you would like to learn about farming in the future?
I am excited to learn more about the honeybees and how they can be useful to farmers.
When did you learn how to hoola-hoop?
From you last night!