This septuagenarian 'Green-Revolutionary' leads way with sustainable model farming

Anusha N Bhat | coastaldigest.com
February 2, 2019

At 73-years of age, Mahalinga Naik breaks into a smile, when residents of Amai village at Bantwal taluk point towards him as the local 'Green-Revolutionary'. For a man who never received formal education, Naik has been solely credited for creating a sustainable eco-friendly farmland, which once was barren land and could not even bear a sapling.

At a hillock farmland in Adyanadka, approximately 52 kilometre from the Mangalore city, a two-acre land boasts of 200 banana trees, 300 areca nut trees, 75 coconut palm trees, along with different types of cocoa, pepper vines. The layout of the farmland is not only systematic but does not leave any loose end for wastage. "From mini-irrigational system, conservation of water, to harvesting organic manure, the farmland is equipped to look into each aspect of traditional farm land," says famed Editor of Adike Patrike Shree Padre.

While today the agricultural revolution at Adyanadka has awed several agriculturists, in fact it has even fetched Mahalinga Naik with awards including ‘Krushi Panditha’ conferred by the Karnataka government in 2010. Recently, he was honoured with ‘Mangalore Press Club Award 2018’. Shree Padre has also released a small booklet on Naik by the title ‘Guddada Melina Ekvyakti Sainya’.

It was about forty years ago, when Naik was just another sharecropper at a land owned by one Mahabala Bhat. Earning a daily wage between Rs 1.50 to Rs 5, Naik managed his household. However, pleased with his dedication for the farmland, in 1979, Bhat gave Naik a two-acre land from his property.

“I was overjoyed with emotions, and swiftly was able to build a humble hut for my family. But the land had no water source for cultivation, we had to walk for about a kilometre for it and the effort was futile. I realised that to take care of my farmland and feed my family, I had to do something,” he says.

For the need of drawing water, Naik eventually decided to carve a ‘Suranga’ (tunnel) to naturally draw water for his cultivation. However, given his financial condition, Naik says he was unable to hire labourers, therefore he decided to use his part time from agriculture to dig the Suranga.

Each day, Naik would return from cultivation and then religiously start digging ‘Suranga’ to find the source of water. “My search for water was more instinctive than scientific. I started digging at places approximately about 100 feet each, where I thought I could find water, but was repeatedly disappointed,” he says.

In the pursuit for water, Naik says he has been mocked and even called names by locals for wasting his time. “I didn’t mind being called names, but I continued my effort for about 6-7 hours, day or night. At times I had to either crawl or squeeze myself between tiny spaces to get through these tunnels and excavate soil. My wife would not be happy, when she would come searching late at night,” he says.

For close to five-years, Naik failed in his endeavour. “Except rainy season, I never gave up on the excavation work. But by then, I had dug about four tunnels and not coming face to face with water was a bit unsettling,” he says.

It was only when Naik struck the sixth Suranga, in a bit further location that Naik felt some wetness in soil, which was an indication for the presence of water in the area.

With the new found development, Naik’s optimism had no bounds, he immediately went further to a higher topography and aggressively dug to find water and he did.  “It made me confident to probe further and I dug another one for domestic consumption,” he says.

To boost the texture and moisture of the soil, Naik also created small ponds across several places in the farmland which would capture rainwater, which Naik had learnt in an agriculture workshop. Naik even placed close to over 5,000 laterite stones to build retaining walls and prevent soil erosion.

Slowly the efforts paid-off, the same land which earlier harboured fragmented grass patches, eventually saw the growth of banana, cocoa, pepper vines, coconuts and areca-nuts. Besides, the farmland also hosts eight to ten honeycombs, alongside a vegetable garden where he grows ladies finger, cucumber, brinjal and so on.

Naik’s farm has become a must see model-farmland and has over 500 visitors a year. “When people visit, I feel very happy,” says Naik.

Sticking to his principle of Hasige Iddastu Kaalu Chachu (Being content with what one has), Naik says he would use only one acre of land for cultivation. “In another, I have built a house and want the same land to grow as natural forest so that future generation can benefit from it. If my experience can help others learn to make profit out of farming, then that would make me content,” he says.

Comments

Ann Pinto
 - 
Thursday, 9 May 2019

Wonderful....for sharing your story on how it’s possible to revive water and increase the water table and make a living too..

SD
 - 
Monday, 4 Feb 2019

Well done, Mr. Naik! Very happy that all your hard work paid off.

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News Network
June 16,2021

Bengaluru, Jun 16: Karnataka reported 7,545 fresh cases of COVID-19, lowest since two months, on Wednesday, taking the total number of people infected to 27,84,355.

According to official sources, while as many as 148 fresh deaths due to the COVID-19 disease were reported in the last 24-hours, as many as 17,913 COVID-19 patients had recovered across the state.

The total number of fatalities due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the state had surged to 33,296.

The sources said that the Bengaluru Urban district had reported 1611 fresh cases in the last 24-hours followed by 841 in Mysuru, 347 from Tumakuru, 239 from Uttara Kannada, 531 from Hassana, 790 from Dakshina Kannada, 262 from Shivamogga and 275 from Bengaluru Urban districts.

While as many as 1,68,712 people had undergone for the COVID-19 tests, the case positivity rate stood at 4.35 per cent and the case fatality rate accounted for 2.01 per cent.

While Dakshina Kannada recorded 790 cases and 10 deaths, Udupi recorded 159 cases and 2 deaths.

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News Network
June 15,2021

Bengaluru, June 15: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Tuesday indicated that there will be further relaxation in lockdown restrictions in the state after June 21, when the current Covid-19 guidelines come to an end.

"After analysing the situation today and tomorrow, we will look into what is to be done, with the situation improving, and what all to be relaxed further and we will do it," Yediyurappa said in response to a question about the next phase of unlocking in the state.

According to official sources, the chief minister is likely to take a decision in this regard, after taking into account advice by the state's Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), consisting of experts, and after consulting senior ministers and officials of his government, before the end of this week.

The government had last week issued fresh guidelines that extended the Covid-19-induced lockdown measures in 11 districts, which have a high positivity rate, till June 21, while some relaxations were announced in the rest of the state from June 14. It had also said that the Covid-19 curfew (daily) will be imposed from 7 pm to 5 am and the weekend curfew will be imposed from 7 pm on Friday to 5 am on Monday, after June 14.

The eleven districts where strict lockdown measures have continued are Chikmagalur, Shivamogga, Davangere, Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada, Bengaluru Rural, Mandya, Belagavi and Kodagu.

Among the relaxations announced by the government in the remaining 19 districts of the state include the opening of parks and industrial units with riders, extending the duration of shops selling essential goods, permission for autos and taxis to ply with a maximum of two passengers, among others. The relaxation in lockdown measures is in place from 6 am on June 14 to 6 am on June 21.

The Karnataka government had initially announced 14 days 'close-down' from April 27 but subsequently imposed a complete lockdown from May 10 to May 24 as the Covid-19 cases continued to spike. Citing lockdown yielding results and experts' advice, it was further extended till June 7 and then again till June 14.

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News Network
June 14,2021

As covid-19 cases see a decline, Karnataka has eased restrictions in some parts of the state while retaining the strict lockdown in other districts till the positivity rate falls.

The Covid-19 lockdown will continue in 11 districts in Karnataka, which have a high positivity rate, till June 21. However, some relaxations have been allowed in the rest of the 19 districts including Bengaluru Urban and Udupi from today (June 14).

Among the relaxations included are extended operational hours for essential shops (vegetables, groceries, milk, meat, etc). Industrial units can operate at 50% of the capacity but all other businesses will remain shut. 

Cloth and footwear merchants, jewellers, sweet vendors, et al cannot resume business as yet. These businesses have remained shut for almost two months now. 

The weekend curfew will kick in from 7 pm on Friday till 5 am on Monday. On all weekdays, night curfew will be in force from 7 pm to 5 am. 

During these hours, movement of people is strictly prohibited. But patients and their attendants requiring emergency need, eligible people intending to take vaccination shall be allowed movement with minimal proof, the order said. 

Here is what is allowed and not allowed from June 14 to June 21:

* All industries will be allowed to open with 50 per cent staff, however, garment industries will function with 30 per cent employees. The establishments are ordered to strictly adher to Covid-19 restrictions. 

* Shops related to food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, dairy and milk booths, and animal fodder shall be allowed to function from 6 am to 2 pm. The same rules apply to PDS shops. 

* Standalone liquor shops will be also allowed from 6 am to 2 pm.

* Parks will be allowed to open from 5 am to 10 am for walking and jogging but group activities are prohibited and Covid-appropriate behavior is mandated. 

* Street vendors can do business from 6 am to 2 pm. 

* Skill training activities related to health sector are allowed. 

* Optical shops are also allowed to function from 6 am to 2 pm. 

* Auto rickshaws and cabs will be allowed to operate with maximum of two passengers only.

* In addition to the already operating government offices, these offices are permitted with 50 per cent staff: Agriculture and allied offices, PWD, Housing, RTOs, Cooperation, NABARD and offices of Department of Revenue, Government of India. 

* Daily night curfew from 7 pm till 5 am will be in place. All movement of public is prohibited except for essential services and health emergencies. Movement of transport goods and vehicles is allowed. Travel for boarding train, plane or bus is allowed. Ecommerce activities are also allowed during the night curfew. 

* There will be no prohibition on inter-district travel

* All construction activities and shops related to construction activities, particularly cement and steel, are permitted to function outside containment zones.

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