17 April, 2021

Once Upon A Time In A Desert

He's ensured sufficient water, organic manure and even a social transformation of the village

Once Upon A Time In A Desert
The wells of Laporia never run dry. In an arid village, in an arid corner of the country’s most arid state, that’s little short of a miracle. Seven consecutive years of poor rainfall in the Dudu subdivision of Jaipur district, Rajasthan, has decimated villages, forcing large-scale migration. But Laporia soldiers on, its perennial wells and ponds never failing to slake their thirst.

Meet the man who made it happen: Laxman Singh, a simple farmer with a simple dream. "I visualised a village at harmony with nature, self-reliant and prosperous," says this farmer-turned-green activist. "I knew the kind of farming we were doing was wrong. We were interfering with nature, subverting natural processes. No good would come of this." Large flats of wasteland bordered the village and water was hard to come by, he recalls. This was in the mid-1980s, when ‘sustainable agriculture’ was not yet part of the policymaker’s vocabulary.

Singh mooted a unique watershed management scheme, dove-tailed with animal husbandry and organic farming. It was low-cost and community-driven. The...

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