The famous quote of Archimedes, “Give me a place to stand... I will move the world,” could well be a statement made by a small farmer Mr. Dadaji Ramaji Khobragade in Maharashtra who developed a highly successful paddy (HMT) variety.
Some agricultural scientists and commercial seed companies cheated the farmer from commercialising his finding and exploited the variety.
What an irony
The irony is that these seed companies made lakhs’ of rupees as profit without recognising the poor farmer who even today toils in his 3.5 acres for a livelihood.
Most of the farmers in the Vidharbha region, noted for its farmers’ suicides, now cultivate this paddy variety as it fetches them a better price.
The HMT variety yields 4 to 4.5 tonnes from an acre, with short grains, more than 80 per cent rice recovery, better aroma and cooking quality. The most remarkable feature of the variety is its grain thinness.
Five years of labour
Mr. Dadaji selected and bred the HMT rice variety from the conventional ‘Patel 3’, variety. He succeeded after five years of continuous study and research.
“In 1983 I noticed three yellow seeded paddy spikes commonly called as ‘lomb’ in my fields, planted with the Patel 3 variety.
“I stored them in a plastic bag and sowed them separately during the next season in the middle of the field. I harvested nearly 10kgs of husked rice. On cooking the rice, I found them to be tastier than the Patel variety.”
He sowed four kg of seeds in a small area and produced 400 to 450 kg of rice. The next year 100 to 150 kg of paddy seeds were sown from which he obtained about 50 bags of paddy and sold them to several farmers.
“I contacted the paddy research centre regarding this variety, but they refused to recognize my research, as it was not based on scientific research techniques.
“The Sindewahi Rice Station, a part of Punjabrao Krishi Vidyapith approached me and took five kilograms of seeds under the pretext of experimenting.
“I was horrified to learn one day that they had released a new variety named PKV HMT. When I contacted them for an explanation they told me that my variety being ‘impure’ needed purification and they released it with a new name,” he says.
But the farmer emphasises that there is no big difference between his variety and those released by the rice station.
A recent research published by some experts established the truth that there is no difference between PKV-HMT and HMT. Both are one and the same.
“The benefits of my research were usurped by private seed companies who made money allegedly with the help of some scientists working in an agricultural university,” he says with bitterness. He regrets that the local agricultural university took the credit merely for purifying the seeds and denied him the due recognition.
Several seed companies based in Nagpur and Chandrapur minted money from his HMT seed but never considered sharing even a small portion of their profit with him.
Seven more varieties
Mr. Dadaji bred seven more varieties of paddy in the last twenty years. All the varieties yield about 1.5 to 2 tonnes per acre.
His HMT variety is now being marketed in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
But the pain on his face is visible, when he remarks:
“The thatched roofs of all the private company people have transformed into tiled roofs, but who is there to help poor farmers like me?”
Readers can contact Mr. Dadaji Ramaji Khobragade at At. & Po., Nanded Village, Teh.- Nagbhid, Chandrapur 441221, Maharashtra, phone: 07179-253093, 07179-202636.