Bhaskar Save, Indian farmer and activist, Died at 93

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Bhaskar Hiraji Save was born on January 27, 1922, and died on October 24, 2015.

Known in India as the “Gandhi of natural farming”, was an educator, entrepreneur, farmer, and activist.

Hiraji was born in the coastal village of Dehri, India, on the Arabian Sea into a family belonging to the Wadval community of farm tenders.

His early years were spent in Dehri, at that time a small city in Valsad District in the state of Gujurat, where modern conveniences, like electricity, did not yet exist.

Farming was a natural, integral part of life, changing according to the season, but regulated by the monsoon, which signaled the beginning of a new production season.

As a child, Hiraji Save learned the value of cooperation. Like most other local farmers, Save’s family grew mainly rice, pulses, and some vegetables.

People often worked together in each other’s field when extra hands were needed to transplant or harvest a paddy field.

Often, he accompanied his father on bullock cart trips through forests to neighbouring areas.

After encountering the Warli tribe, Hiraji was fascinated by their way of life and culture, and particularly awed by their belief that God lived in green trees.

Among the Warli, trees were never cut down till they dried and shed all trace of green from their body.

It was an idea that struck a chord and was to be applied in his own farming career, since the planting of tree crops was not a part of his family’s traditional agricultural practices.

His formal education included “Standard 7” of the old system (equivalent to “class 10” today), followed by two years of work towards the Primary Training Certificate.

This qualified him to teach in a secondary school in a neighbouring village, which he did for 10 years.

On 2 February 1951, Hiraji married Maltiben, who has since been his companion.

The same year, the Save family began digging their well. By 1952, the well was completed and a water wheel was constructed.

After harvesting their monsoon rice, the family grew irrigated winter vegetables.

And for the first time in his life, Hiraji used chemical fertilizer, together with dung manure – for his vegetable plants. And, in 1953, he used chemicals for his rain-fed rice paddy as well.

Hiraji passed away at age 93 in October 2015.

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