Farmers of Kamshet
Kamshet is located in Pune district in the state of Maharashtra, India, 110 km from Mumbai City, and 45 km from Pune in Pune district. It is 16 km from the twin hill stations of Khandala and Lonavala and is accessible by road and rail from Mumbai and Pune. Kamshet is home to small villages that are built in the traditional style- with mud, thatch and reeds.
Living in this area is Dinesh Balsaver, a former resident of Mumbai who has done amazing work in inspiring a small community of farmers to adopt organic farming. He started his activities in Kamshet in 1958 because Mr. Sardesai, a friend of his was good enough to give him a piece of land. It was a barren piece of land with just some wild cacti growing. He had to convert that wild piece of land into a farm. He could not be a 100% farmer in the beginning since he had family responsibilities. He was working for Burmah Shell at that time and he had to maintain his family and look after their education. Because of that he could not devote much of time.
Click to watch a video about his life, activities and learnings.
The Indrayani river originates in Kurvande village near Lonavla, a hill station in the Sahyadri mountains of Maharashtra.] Fed by rain, it flows east from there to meet the Bhima river, through the Hindu pilgrimage centers of Dehu and Alandi. It follows a course mostly north of the city of Pune. It is one of the tributaries of Bhima River, which in turn is a major tributary of the Krishna River system. It is revered as a holy river and is associated with such great religious figures such as Sant Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar.
In his own words, Dinesh Balsaver shares his views as to how growing rice helps foster a greater sense of community:
“I would like to tell you something about the community work. Rice is a crop that a single farmer cannot do all the work by himself. Because it is a very labour intensive job. You can grow rice seedlings but when it comes to transplanting the seedlings into the fields, the amount of labour required is too much. There it is a crop that is adaptive to community activities. All the villagers from one village come together and do transplanting of rice for the neighbours field. Rice demands this type of community spirit. Wheat can be sown easily and will grow but rice has to be grown, the seedlings have to be raised, they have to be transplanted. All this requires community effort and not just individual activity.“
The rice we possess has medium size grain size. Indrayani is a variety of rice especially grown in Maval region of Pune District. This rice has a typical pleasing aroma that doesn't exist in any of other variety of rice. The hybrid called Indrayani with ambemohar parentage was released in 1987. It was developed by Rice Research Centre near Lonavala. Today, Indrayani has replaced Ambemohar in in almost all paddy fields in the area. Speciality about this rice is that it has been collected from farmers directly and the farmer gets his best share for his efforts. Moreover this rice is produced with no use of chemicals.
Organically grown food is richer in minerals and antioxidants. However, since the mineral content is higher in organic food, including rice, it requires longer cooking time. This is a small price to pay for the benefit of a product that helps to build immunity and disease resistance. Brown rice, like all grains, should be rinsed thoroughly under running water, and any dirt or debris should be removed. Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice because the fibrous bran layer and nutrient-rich germ layer have been removed. These layers also give brown rice a chewier, nuttier texture than white rice. Pre-soaking the rice for 30 minutes before cooking helps in reducing the cooking time to some extent. After opening the packet, transfer to a tin or refrigerate.