Gafarbhai Qureshi has collected over 5200 types of plants in his nursery and gives free information and training to farmers and students about these plants, herbs and trees.
His father, a small farmer from Ramdechi of Junagarh district of Gujarat, had four acres of land, a well and 50 plants.
He was a traditional farmer until he met Prof. Anil Gupta from IIM-A. The duo decided to start a journey – a ‘Shodh Yatra’ – from Gafarbhai’s farm and walk through various farms and forests across the country. The plan was to save lost varieties of plants and herbs of India and to spread awareness among the farmers about them.
In the 90s, chemical farming was also ruining fertile soil and the future of farmers, so they decided to encourage organic farming through their yatra as well. The aim of the Shodh yatra was to learn about the experiences of the farmers engaged in organic farming and inform other farmers about the same.
The team wanted to encourage the curiosity of children about varieties in organic farming.
During the Shodh Yatra, while travelling from one village to another, the team met villagers, farmers and learnt new methods of crop protection, cattle rearing and improved implements which were developed by them.
So far Gafarbhai has trained nearly 10,000 farmers and more than 20,000 students who visit his nursery every day. “See once I die, my knowledge will also die with me. But if I spread my knowledge, it will remain immortal. Like you are writing about me…this will remain forever even after we isn’t it? So I make sure I give out my knowledge to the next generation, and their learning is my fees,” he says humbly.
Through the journeys he has gathered 5200 varieties of plants, trees and herbs and planted them in his nursery – Qureshi Baug and Nursery. Qureshi farm and Nursery has annual sales of Rs. 2 million.
“The world market has enough production. What they are looking for is quality and not quantity. Our farmers have to understand this key and start farming organically and supply the best quality products. I am happy that the change has begun and I will continue doing my Shodh Yatras until every farmer of our country understands this,” concludes Gafarbhai.