It’s been one hell of a month……. “naa khushi, naa dukh” (neither happy, nor sad!)

Harvesting rice, threshing it & finally the milling….. phew, finally its all over & done with.

Firstly, there is a bit of joy in bringing home a sack(s) full of rice. Secondly, the learning from mistakes (about seeds, about tilling, about transplanting etc) has been immense & that’s giving me some confidence to unlock a few more codes in my attempt to embrace this land…

Immediately after the harvest we prepared the fields for Wheat, Channa (chick peas) & Mustard. Simultaneously the fence had to be reinforced & we had to check the water in the river. We needed to organise irrigation for the wheat crop too!

I also remembered the pathetic wheat seeds that i had got last year, some friends who are  experts in the field of local seed varieties had told me to hunt for Khapli wheat & had warned me not to buy wheat seeds from the market. I went asking to all the limited contacts that i have for wheat, all to no avail. Finally i went to a seed shop where the owner is a friendly sort and asked him … look sir… i am interested in Khapli wheat so can you get me 20 kgs  from a farmer ? He said he will try & asked me to call him back after 2 hours. I promptly called him after a couple of hours & he said a farmer from Sangli has sent it by ST parcel service & he will collect & keep it for me !!

So yes, its something really positive to look forward to & here are some details of this variety :

1. Emmer wheat, commonly known as Samba wheat or “Khapli,”  (Triticum dicoccum) is found to have curative properties for treating diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Its capacity to lower blood glucose and lipid levels and high temperature stress tolerance compared to other cultivated species makes it therapeutic.

2. It is believed to be developed from T. diccoides Koru (a wild form). It is grown in southern India, i.e., Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka. It is also grown in Spain, Italy, Germany and Russia.

3. Its only 2% of the total wheat grown in India.

4. Supposedly has more fibre content than normal wheat & organic shops which sell this wheat has price tags of Rs 100/- per kg !

5. Emmer wheat, due to hard and vitreous nature of its grains, milling quality is very superior especially for semolina preparation. Semolina of this wheat needs less cooking time and has more cooking tolerance.

Among all the above…. the fact that its grown only by 2% of the farmers  sparked off something which i’ve wanting to do for a while i.e to have a seed collective in our farm. There are so many varieties of rice, wheat, pulses & vegetables which are systematically gunned down by the seed companies. There has been enough written, talked & debated about it so here on the farm we are dedicating a plot of land to be a seed bank. Already about 8 varieties of rice have come in & would you believe it we are growing rice again this winter to reproduce these seeds !

My hands are itching with hope & excitement because we will be doing direct planting of rice, plus it also be our first venture into clonal propagation, something which one has heard so much from Dr Richharia, so its going to be a complete dress rehearsal & learning for us now, before we plant rice again next monsoon. Just as Prof Dabholkar always used to exhort us…. plant, uproot, replant, measure, observe, take notes, become the master…..

peace, love & more dress rehearsals !!