Crop Connect Chronicles

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Meet the man behind 850 varieties of Rice and 120 varieties of Mango!

Syed Ghani Khan might be a name not known to many, but in the farmer world, he can definitely be touted as a well-known celebrity. Ghani is a farmer from Kirugavalu village in Malavalli taluk of Karnataka’s Mandya district. He is famous for his conservation initiative of preserving rare varieties of mango and paddy.  The eight-hectare farm that he owns is locally popular as ‘Bada Bagh’ and hosts some 116 rare mango trees which Ghani says belong to the era of Tipu Sultan. He has inherited the farm from his forefathers.

Syed Ghani Khan

Khan has completed his graduation in archaeology and museology and has turned into the curator of the living museum that his farm is. The ‘museum’ exhibits 850 different varieties of rice, 120 varieties of Mangoes and several other fruits, medicinal plants, crops, and hosts 60 – 70 species of birds. Not only from India, these varieties are from Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan and various other parts of the world.

cultivating Rice diversity 1

His passion for collecting native varieties of paddy and growing them in order to preserve the rare varieties was honoured with the ‘Plant Genome Saviour Farmer Recognition’ award by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority in 2012. He also received the ‘Krishi Pandit’ award in 2008, and the Government of Karnataka ‘Krishi Jeeva Viavidya’ honour in 2010.

He once fell unconscious on his farm, apparently due to the fumes of the pesticides and other chemicals. Since then, Syed Ghani Khan had converted his farm to organic. Ghani takes care to use minimum water just to maintain moisture. He uses a concoction of selected medicinal leaves to check pests and diseases and grows green manure and mulches about 10 types of legumes to ensure good quality.

Ghani has been working with Sahaja Samruddha, a local farmer producer company for a long time. He has also initiated training farmers and students about local varieties of crops and organic, traditional cultivation, and supplies organic seeds, free of cost, to over 7000 farmers.

Ghani’s concern for conservation of biodiversity has in fact got many farmers interested in traditional varieties. Besides the locals, he has visitors to his unique farm from many countries like France, Brazil, Africa, USA, and Japan.


Syed Ghani Khan is an inspiration to many and has encouraged many youngsters to take up agriculture instead of migrating to urban areas. Grain by grain, Ghani has brought about a transformation and continues to do so.

We, at Original Indian Table, are proud to source products from him!

Information and Image Courtesy: Sahaja

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Changing cropping and food consumption patterns and their impact on communities – an insight into Jhajjar, Haryana


We conducted a field visit and survey of the farmers of Jhajjar, Haryana to study the changes in agriculture and cropping pattern and assess the food habits of people over a period of 50 years, in association with Tejaswini Foundation – NRS.

The study gave us useful insights on the cropping pattern and food habits over the years and also taught us how the traditional cropping and food consumption patterns along with traditional recipes were beneficial for our health, but have gone into oblivion and abandoned by us in the present times.

Target Group and Methodology

A total of 106 farmers were interviewed, out of which 50 were women and 56 were men. Interviews were conducted in groups and individually.

The questionnaire for women farmers’ individual survey focused on gaining knowledge about the seasonal local produce and its health benefits. The local food recipes these people consumed in the past years before/after pregnancy, on special occasions and festivals, and for elders or infants were of immense benefit to their health.

The male farmers were enquired about their famous/native crops over the period of 50 years. The current state of agriculture and the challenges faced were discussed and they were encouraged to share anything they liked to about prevalent farming practices.

The Results

Changing agriculture and cropping practices: The results that we obtained from this study were interesting.  There has been a lot of change in their social behaviour as well, in reference to their attitude towards agriculture, as under:

  • People have shifted to cash crops like paddy and wheat over Bajra (Pearl Millet), Jowar (Sorghum) because it brings in more income
  • Use of fertilizers and pesticides has increased to increase the produce artificially in order to make more money
  • Younger generation is moving towards services and does not prefer to work on farms; younger women don’t like working in the fields because they are educated

The changes in the cropping pattern can be summarized in the table below. 1The Reasons: The farmers shared with us the reasons why the production of the crops has undergone a change.

  • The increase in salty water level has led to less Chana (chickpea) production.
  • Since they have Neher (canal) water and from borewells, there is less dependency on rains. Thus the ease of irrigation has facilitated increased rice production.
  • The shift from sugarcane has happened because of it being an annual crop and also due to the low prices they were getting for it.
  • Social and community pressure to earn higher income

The consequences – changes in cropping patterns: The consequences of the changes in cropping pattern are more towards the negative side:

  • Productivity has gone up. Water usage has increased. However, soil fertility has gone down.
  • Desi Bajra was delicious before but now even though the Bajra production has increased, the taste has deteriorated. The farmers have shifted to hybrids for increased yields.
  • There has been the increase in water and air pollution which has affected the crops.
  • More water-borne and mosquitoes’ diseases have increased because of paddy cultivation as water is stagnated for longer durations.

The consequences – changes in food consumption patterns: The food habits of the people of Jhajjar has altered and the traditional recipes have become forgotten in most of the households.

  • People eat more wheat than bajra now as compared to old times
  • Chana recipes use to be popular earlier now people rarely eat chana
  • Earlier people ate gud (jaggery) at home but now people consume sugar

The repercussions of the current food habits are that people now have health issues like joint pain, obesity, low haemoglobin, sugar/ cholesterol problems and blood pressure woes.