Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cherkady Ramachandra Rao is No More

Cherkady Ramachandra Rao Passes Away

Eminent Gandhian and progressive farmer who blend the Gandhian way with principles of Masanobu Fukuoka in natural farming, Cherkady Ramachandra Rao (91) passed away at his residence in Cherkady village at Udupi after a brief illness on Sunday 21 February 2010.

He survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

Cherkadi Ramachandra Rao was born in Kodagu in 1917. He was two when his father and mother died mysteriously within a day of each other. Then he moved to his older sister's house in Dharmasthala and later to Cherkady where another sister had been living.

Mr. Rao's life was shaped at Cherkady where he grew up grazing brother-in-law's cows and helping in his fields. He was sent to a school at the age of ten for two years.

This formative years in school introduced Gandhi to Rao. His teacher Ramachandra Patil had only one subject, Gandhi. He always spoke of his life thoughts and also kept a charkha in the school.Young Rao learnt to spin, there.

Thus in his spare time Rao started spinning the charkha at home. In late teens, he came to Brahmavar to learn weaving and earned his first income at the age 22. Soon he became an accomplished weaver and was also asked to look after the Khadi Board, Moodbidri.

Pursuing the Cherkady way, a blend of Gandhian and Fukuokan principles of Masanobu Fukuoka, the architect of natural farming, Ramachandra Rao was instrumental in finding answers to many of the modern agricultural problems.

He was the recipient of many awards including “Krishi Pandit” given by the State Government in 2002-03.

Having studied onlyup to standard III, though Cherkady did not read much about Gandhi, but understood deeply Mahatma's vision about life. Everyday until his death he worked and lived in simple imbibing Gandhian thoughts.

In his two-and-a-half acre land given by his brother-in-law,the man has experimented with every possible crop from coconut trees, cashew nut, mango trees, ginger, papaya and vegetables.

The call given by Gandhiji to people to produce rice for themselves in 1948-49 when grain production dropped inspired Rao to resign from Khadi Board, Moodbidri and come to Cherkady with a mission to practise Gandhian ideology. Achrya Vinoba Bhave too had a great influence on Rao.

His farming experiment made him discover that the plant grown out of natural nutrients yielded more than the usual variety. He began growing paddy without tilling the land or using other common farming practices without any irrigation. The method named "Sarvodaya paddy cultivation" became popular in the area as the "Cherkady crop". The method is still considered suitable for hilly and dry areas. He also guided Namma Bhoomi, a charitable institution in Kundapur in experimenting with this method.

However, he was also of the opinion that natural farming doesn't mean turning our backs on the scientific and modern world. He understood that natural farming can find its true purpose only when it is backed scientifically.

ALTERNATIVE joins with the family members, his friends and followers in this time of sorrow and prays the God to rest his soul in peace. Let his experiments of simple life and natural farming methods show the way to our farmers in shaping their life and future farming methods.

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