Ramesh Ganeriwal and his organic farm have transformed the way a tiny village in Himachal Pradesh looks at itself and the world, since the 64-year-old NRI returned to India five years ago and made the state his home.
Ganeriwal, an energy engineer who spent 36 years in California, grows a wide range of vegetables, produces kaluna (a dark-brown local rice variety), and has set up an ayurvedic garden at his organic farm in Kotla village.
“Every bit of my farm is connected to nature,” he says. “I want others to follow it (organic farming) as a way of life.” He has employed five villagers permanently on his farm, and hires more than 15 in the sowing and harvesting season every year.
“He works with us in the field,” says Madan (42), a villager and an admirer. “Whether it’s mixing cow dung for manure, milching livestock, or sowing, weeding and harvesting, he puts in an equal effort.”
Ganeriwal, who updates himself about farming through discussions with villagers, interaction with international farm scientists and by surfing the Internet, guides villagers when they face problems in their farms.
An Argentine couple is currently staying on his farm to learn rainwater harvesting techniques.
“I don’t have commercial interests,” Ganeriwal says. “I am developing it as a self sustainable eco-demonstration farm for others to follow.”