Master Madan Lal, Bhulhowal, Hoshiarpur - A Mentor of Soil and Soul
Teachers are rightly called nation builders. They not only give the right tools to students for them to be thinking individuals, but also serve as examples of hard work, upright character and futuristic thinking. Master Madan Lal personifies these traits to perfection.
A retired mathematics teacher, he practises natural farming on 3 acre of his fields and sells natural medicines and other products on his shop at Bulhowal village near Hoshiarpur. From somebody who did not know anything about farming till seven years back, the man knows by heart the growth patterns and nutritional requirements of all crops he is cultivating today.
This turnaround came about because of his deep concerns about nature and human lives. “Earlier, I used to give the farmland on contract since I had never done farming. But attending a natural farming workshop at a farm of Pingalwara Society near Amritsar made me realise that producing healthy food is the utmost service one can do,” the 69-year-old explains with a charming smile. The declining number of birds and increasing intensity of diseases, like cancer and genetic disorders, started making sense as he realised that chemical farming is taking toll of nature. “If we keep going at this rate, these poisons will eliminate humanity. We have polluted our air by burning stubble and polluted soil and water through chemicals. Now, most people are forced to use costly water filters as pollution in underground water has reached non-permissible limits. Why can’t we just stop using chemicals in fields and save our future generations,” he asks.
An active member of Punjab Rationalist Society, Farms Produce Promotion Society (FAPRO) and village cooperative society, Master Madan Lal helped various organisations conduct natural farming workshops in his area and it was because of his efforts that nine other farmers stopped using chemicals. He also takes care of biodiversity when it comes to selection of crops. One can see gram and sugarcane growing alongside wheat while around 45 fruit plants occupy a 1300 square foot plot. In addition, a kitchen garden on his animal farm has multiple fruit and herb plants. Love for natural farming also led him to acquire the indigenous Sahewal cow. “The manure made from dung and urine of indigenous cows works best for natural farming. One cow can give enough manure to cultivate 30 acres of land,” he claims.
Mention organic farming and he is quick to restrain you. “Organic is a term given by corporates and government. First they fleeced us through chemical farming by promising big things and now as people are moving towards nature, they have brought in organic brand name. The small farmer, who has been doing natural farming for long, would lose again as the corporates will take over the whole market. And who knows they start selling chemical-laced food in garb of organic,” he sounds cautious.
The tone gets optimistic as he starts talking about new developments in the field of natural farming. “Right now, we spend more money on labour but as this concept is gaining more ground, new implements are being developed which will make it easy for farmers to shift to chemical-free cultivation.” Master Madan Lal says this with experience of a teacher who has spent his life making men out of boys. Now he is showing the world how to live in harmony with nature.
By Manu Moudgil