GREAT INDIAN GAFARBHAI QURESHI HAS GATHERED 5200 VARIETIES OF PLANTS
Great Indian Gafarbhai Qureshi has gathered 5200 varieties of plants, trees, and herbs and planted them in his nursery and have studied six crore plants, trees and herbs so far in the last 20 years.
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There is Ramlechi village 4 km far away from Talala taluka headquarters of Gir Somnath district. Qureshi Farm and Nursery is spread out there in 4 acres of land. Gafarbhai Qureshi and Haji Rahimbhai Qureshi have made this nursery chemical-free by acquiring traditional knowledge from their ancestors. They believe that wealth should not be earned out of the natural gift. Soil, tree-wood, and water should not be sold out. Once upon a time there are 25 to 50 trees in their farm.
Gafarbhai Qureshi was just a 14- year old when his father passed away, his father grew vegetables, pumps water from well manually. His father made his both ends meet by selling vegetables and fruits in Talala. The financial condition was not good then but he grew 5200 species of herbs, species of fruits, flowers, trees, ornamental plants, medicinal plants by acquiring traditional knowledge from his ancestors. All these kind of plants are grown here. Nature lover farmers come here with full of enthusiasm and buy plants with proud. 3 million plants are sold till now.
TV channels including BBC channel broadcasted the program of their nursery. Government officers, farmers, children, youths, ministers, dignitaries, Holy saint Shri Pramukh Swami and even Minister for education Anandiben Patel also visited the nursery. More than 28000 visitors visited the nursery till date, which includes more than 8000 students. Trainees studying in agricultural universities situated in various districts stay here for months to get training of direct farming. Gafurbhai says India is a land of deities, gods, saints. All they love trees.
We should get inspiration from them and go a step forward for love of nature, save environment and worship of nature. Our holy ancestors inspired us to safeguard nature but due to our greed for population and wealth we could not save the environment and we became helpless. Gafarbhai Qureshi has collected over 5200 types of plants in his nursery and gives free information and training to farmers and students. He gives much more information about these trees, plants, and herbs. He Awarded the Krishi Samrat Samman in the year 2015.
- He decided to start a journey from Gafarbhai’s farm and walk through various farms and forests across the country. The plan was to save lost varieties of plants and herbs of India and to spread awareness among the farmers about them. In the year 1990s, chemical farming was also ruining fertile soil and the future of farmers, so they decided to encourage organic farming through their yatra (Travel) as well.
- The aim of the Shodh yatra (Travel to search) was to learn about the experiences of the farmers engaged in organic farming and inform other farmers about the same. The team wanted to encourage the curiosity of children about varieties in organic farming. Another aim was to meet the people who solved their problems through the presence of mind and inborn ability, store their knowledge and felicitate them. And the final purpose was to compile the knowledge, which is fast disappearing, and establish a dialogue between the old generation and the future.
- The first Shodh Yatra – which aimed at covering three districts, five talukas(blocks in India) and 47 villages – started from Gafarbhai Qureshi’s orchard on 15th May 1998 and ended on 23rd May 1998 at Shri J.C. Kumarappa Gram Vidyapith at Gadhada of Bhavnagar district.
- During the Shodh Yatra, competitions on bioversities were held at Kalavad, Khijadiya, Prempara, and Vadera. In these competitions, students and other children of the village were asked to identify and stick samples of vegetation found in their village on a cardboard and list down their various uses.
Each student was orally tested regarding the samples they had brought along and the students making the best impact were given certificates to encourage them. Many villagers also joined in the programme.
- While marching ahead during the Shodh Yatra, Gafarbhai and his team came across many villagers with innovative ideas. Also, Gramsabha discussions revealed much information. Such ideas and information were documented by the team.
- Gafarbhai started 2 types of the yatras (Travels), one on foot and the other of the mind. (1) The yatra on foot ends after a certain time, but the yatra (2) of the mind continues forever he stated. During the Shodh Yatra, marchers walked for 16 Kms to 40 Kms per day. In the first Shodh yatra between Gir to Gadhada, we saw a 225-year-old Neem tree at Thordi, near Babapur village in Amreli district. During the Shodh Yatra, while traveling from one village to another, the team met villagers, farmers and learned new methods of crop protection, cattle rearing and improved implements which were developed by them. 12 methods of crop protection, ten methods of cattle rearing, nine technical up gradations and 13 general innovations were discussed and documented.
- Seven farmers were encouraged about organic farming and experiments with them were agreed upon to continue. There were eight-day halts and eight night halts the center of attraction was a small computer. The villagers were very excited when the database information was exhibited to them on a computer. Moreover, some projectors were used to show them various Updated methods and all of these activities were recorded on the video,” Gafarbhai affirmed.
- Maldhari Ismaiyl Miyan Sayeed also showed them a Tamarind tree which was 200 years old. Looking at such trees, Gafarbhai Qureshi felt that he must gather information about the herbs used in the past by the hakims and know more about ancient, endangered species of plants from old gardeners.
- Thus he also started searching for hakims and gardeners above the age of 90 during his Yatras. He made it a point to meet retired agri-scientists of various universities to gain more knowledge.
- At Prempara village in Junagadh district, Gafarbhai met Jivraj Bapa, who was 104-years-old at that time. According to Gafarbhai, Jivraj Bapa could work for 18 hours a day and had a large store of experience.
- So far Gafarbhai has completed 40 such Shodh Yatras and covered 19 states of India.
- Through the yatra, he has gathered 5200 varieties of plants, trees, and herbs and planted them in his nursery – Qureshi Baug and Nursery. He claims to have studied 6 (six)crore plants, trees, and herbs so far in the last 20 years.
- He also grows organic Kesar mangoes on his 10-acre land which has a massive demand in the national and international market.
Apart from this he also keeps researching on herbs which can cure various diseases and spreads his knowledge for free. So far Gafarbhai has trained nearly 10,000 farmers and more than 20,000 students who visit his nursery every day. Qureshi farm and Nursery has a turnover of Rs. 20 lakh per annum. However, Garfarbhai leads a very simple life along with his four brothers in a joint family of 40 members.
- He treats the 25 labors working at his nursery as a family too and takes care of their food, clothing and even education of their children too.
- Gafarbhai, who has been awarded as ‘Ayurved Ratna’ by the government of India for his research on medicinal herbs, urges farmers to preserve their heritage and strive for quality and not quantity.
- He says world market has enough production. What they are looking for is quality and not quantity. Our farmers have to understand this key and start farming organically and supply the best quality products. I am happy that the change has begun and I will continue doing my Shodh Yatras until every farmer of our country should understand this.
- He said that once I die, my knowledge will also die with me. But if I spread my knowledge, it will remain immortal. Like you are writing about me…this will remain forever even after we aren’t it? So I make sure I give out my knowledge to the next generation, and their learning is my fees,” he says humbly. See his website ..https://www.indiamart.com/qureshi-farms/
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