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.
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.
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!