Written by Simar Sangla, a grade 10 student
Mr. Mahadev Gomare, commonly known as the Waterman of Maharashtra’s Latur district. is a farmer who has worked to bring about change in a drought-infected area – which now is home to many rivers.
Where’s Latur? And what happened there?
Latur is the 16th largest district in the state of Maharashtra and is primarily agricultural.
It went through a dangerous drought in the year 2016. The situation got so bad that water tankers had to be sent in trains to provide water for the people. The shortage led to fear of water riots, and the government had to impose section 144, which has been used in the past to impose restrictions as a way to prevent protests that can lead to unrest or riots.
The effects of drought are still around – its people started facing an economic crisis and have become prone to many natural diseases. The agricultural produce fell as there was a water shortage and buying chemical pesticides/fertilizers was not financially suitable.
This is when a person called Mahadev Gomare started to think about natural solutions for this problem.
Who is Mahadev Gomare and what did he do?
Mahadev Gomare is a farmer and a teacher at Art of Living teacher and also an OVBI’s (overseas volunteers for a better India) Water Project Lead.
He is an expert in natural farming and is also a key coordinator of the river rejuvenation projects in Maharashtra. He has urged farmers to leave all the man-made chemicals used for farming and look for better natural formulas.
He used the concept of making Sanjeevani ras/eco enzyme or bio enzyme. It can be made using little jaggery, around 3 cups of any fruit waste, and not more than 10 drops of water. When it is kept away for three months after being mixed, it gains a purple or a dark red colour which has millions of good bacteria in it and gives a better product compared to chemical fertilizers.
He called this movement Jal Jagruti Abhyaan.
“It was not easy in the beginning. The people of the first three or four villages we approached initially were not ready to cooperate with us to undertake the initiative. They would complain saying it was not their job to take such a huge responsibility on their shoulders, it was the government’s job. It took me some time to convince them that this would not be so difficult if all of us are in this together. The droughts made our lives so difficult that it was important that we did our part to make things easier for all of us,” Mahadev Gomare said in a conversation with The Logical Indian .
But, he, later on, went to gain the farmers’ trust and came out to be successful as all his methods worked and farmers started to gain benefits from them.
Many awareness campaigns and community empowerment workshops have been held by Gomare and his team to make people realize how crucial it is to harvest and save water. Many people supported his movement and contributed almost 15 crores to it.
He also moved from single crop production to multiple cropping where different crops can be grown on the same piece of land in different seasons. It increased the agricultural output and farmers majorly benefitted by adopting these techniques. One of the benefits of natural farming was that social forestry started and biodiversity flourished as more than 70 varieties of trees ranging from medicinal plants to horticulture (garden crops) began to grow.
Currently, Mahadev Gomare is working to teach techniques of sustainable agriculture to the farmers of Maharashtra and spreading his ideas around India.
He works for free because he has earned the trust and respect of thousands of farmers. He is also spreading river rejenuvation programmes which have direct benefits on farming. According to him, farming is the world’s best and most gratifying profession if one can do it really well.