Kamaljit Singh Hayer – lawyer turned farmer
Leaves behind thriving legal practice to become farmer for flourishing agriculture in Punjab
“Crop diversity and crop residue are the two prime keys for transforming agriculture. More the multiplicity of plants and trees in the farm more it becomes independent and prosperous. Secondly after harvesting the crop the residue needs to be given back to the soil through mulching thereby the farm attains endurance,” says Mr. Kamaljit Singh Hayer, successful lawyer turned farmer.
Mr. Kamaljit’s farm spreads in 50 acres but presently only 20 acres is under cultivation. It is a model farm to showcase farmers of Punjab that it is possible to do farming and earn substantially without using any chemicals. Located at Sohangarh Rattewala village, Ferozepur district, Punjab, the farm is unique in more than one ways as it has 1500 trees of 120 species, annually 60 crops are cultivated and harvested, rears three livestock variants and 100% rainwater harvesting. He developed the model farm under the guidance and mentorship of Late Dr. O.P. Rupela, pioneer in organic and natural farming.
Farmers must always mulch the crop residue back in the soil instead of discarding by putting into trash or burning. Alternatively it should be turned into compost along with the livestock excreta. “In my dairy unit I also rear buffaloes along with the cows because former are native of Punjab. In addition I have desi breeds of goats and poultry birds. I prepare the compost culture from all the livestock waste and feed in the soil to replenish it with vital nutrients and retain fertility,” shares Mr. Kamaljit.
Having a good blend of trees and pants is referred as crop diversity. “Dr. Rupela always recommended growing minimum 50 trees in one acre in north and south direction in line system in order to achieve the sustainability in the farm. As per his design I have 1500 trees in 20 acres but only 3 acres is the shade area rest of the farmland is used for growing 60 different crops,” he highlights. 120 species in the farm are mix of fruits, medicinal, forest and nitrogen fixing trees.
“In my farm there are two main nitrogen fixing tress namely Moringa (Moringa Oleifera) and Rajasthan native tree Khejri (Prosopis Cineraria). I have more than 200 moringa trees. Dry leaves, stems and the roots of these trees when comes in contact with the soil it converts the atmospheric gas into usable compounds namely nitrogen. These must be grown near to any fruit tree and then the fruits produced will be best in quality and quantity,” he asserts.
Similarly growing medicinal trees are also important in every farm for crop protection. Mr. Kamaljit has Neem, Calotropis (called aak in hindi) and Vitex Negundo/five-leaved Chastetree (called nirgudi in hindi) trees in his farm. Leaves of these trees are soaked in cow urine or boiled in water and sprayed on the crops leaves. “Using a sprayer mist the concoction on the leaves of the crop. Subsequently the plants will get a protective shield from pests and diseases,” he adds.
60 crops cultivated in the farm are grown as intercrops such as green gram-sesame, Bengal gram-mustard, sesame-guargum etc. “Two crops to be grown as intercrops are decided based on its height, water requirements and nutrient required from the soil,” he shares. All the seeds used for growing these crops are native varieties. “We must stand against hybrid and GM seeds as it will collapse our entire ecosystem,” he insists. All the farm produce is sold locally.
Speaking of quitting legal practice in 2015 that gave the earning of Rs. 1.5 lakh a month, Mr. Kamaljit says, “What is the point of earning if there is no life? Punjab had the worst effect of green revolutions putting livelihood of farmers and life of Punjabis on stake! My grandfather passed away at the age of 101 years, father at 53 years and younger brother at 10 years. The life span is getting shorter because we are eating poisonous food. Farmers of my Punjab are in extremely troubled condition. To revive my Motherland and secure the life of my near and dear ones, I had to grow food without any chemicals. I wanted to showcase to the farmers of Punjab that without chemicals you can grow food and feed the population thus I turned into full time farmer from a lawyer.”
Today a committed farmer, Mr. Kamaljit is determined to activate the movement of organic farming practices in entire Punjab, the dream of his mentor Dr. O.P.Rupela. “Unfortunately Dr. Rupela passed away in 2016! To realize his dream I need to create awareness on chemical-free farming amongst the farmers as well as consumers. Therefore, I am setting up the agri tourism center for urban consumer to make them realize the importance of farming and training center to conduct five-day residential training for farmers on organic farming practices. These two new ventures together shall bring dream of my mentor into reality,” he states with immense hope.
Mr. Kamaljit concludes, “Urban consumer needs to contribute in bringing up the farmers by buying his value added products over the corporate products. It is vital that farmers continue with farming then the food will be affordable and if it gets completely lost to the corporate then food will become very expensive. Also our food diversity will be lost! Therefore, consumers must not get carried away by product packing done by corporate instead focus on nutrients in the food grown by the farmers. If the farmers prosper then only our country will prosper!!”
Mr. Kamaljit Singh Hayer
VPO Sohangarh, Tehsil Guruharsahai, Ferozepur district, Punjab.