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Dave Chhoker is a customer of ours who blows our mind with the humanitarian work he does! He's quietly doing so much good - we thought everyone should know about it! So we asked our Leslie 2 to interview Dave and write us a quick article about what he does and why he does it. We hope that this will bring some interesting farming alternatives to your attention, and that you'll be inspired by a single person making a world of difference in many people's lives. Way to go Dave!

Dave Chhoker uses new/ancient farming techniques to improve farming in India

“It’s called Rishi Krishi,” Surrey’s Dave Chhoker says of an irrigation system that originated in ancient India from one of the four parts of the Veda—ancient scripture that deals with agriculture—once farmed by sages and saints. According to Chhoker, farmers would scrape the soil from under a Banyan tree—an extremely large and holy tree. “There are these hanging roots ,” Chhoker says, describing how they drip hormones and enzymes into the soil creating a substance known as Angara or holy ash. It takes 15 kilograms of Angara to be sprinkled upon one acre of field, which is then flooded with water to irrigate it. “It works like a yogurt culture,” Chhoker explains, “starting the growth of micro-organisms in the soil. The healthier the micro-organisms, the healthier the crop.” Chhoker himself has six acres in India and uses his farm as a tool to teach other farmers how to go back to the ancient and self-sustaining methods of farming, using his own successes as an example. Rishi Krishi is just one of them. Another is what is known as the Sulab system which takes human waste and through the use of two separate pits (customized to fit the size of the farm and family) allows one pit to fill with excreta and other human waste while the other filled pit is sealed with cement slabs and allowed to compost or “percolate” for two full years. The pathogens are eaten up by bacteria in the soil, leaving behind “a nice smelling manure.” A manure loaded with natural nutrients. “It is very successful, very cheap, very practical.” A nectar comprised of honey, ghee, cow dung and water is used while the crops are growing which enhances the growth of micro-organisms in the soil. Whatever is put in the ground provides the activation. It is, Chhokar states, a self-sustaining system. “You are not dependent on anyone.” Chhokar describes modern India as having turned away from these ancient forms of farming in favour of chemicals and genetically modified seeds (GMO). He laments the plight of modern farmers who have been “victimized” by the lure of an easy crop with little to no weeding, only to lose everything to drought. The farmers—now in debt to the chemical companies—must sell whatever crops survived to the pay the bills. Any GMO crops that are kept to feed their families are engineered to be sterile so the farmers have no choice but to buy more of this seed for next year’s crop. When the farmers can no longer pay the chemical and GMO seed corporations, they lose their farms. “The dependence on chemical agriculture in India is creating a lot of farmers and their families to commit suicide, jumping into their wells,” Chhokar says, adding that most farms have been in the family for generations and it is an “honour” issue, a “losing face,” when the farms are lost. “It is a huge problem in India.” by Leslie MacFarlane Leslie 2 (L2 for short!) is a writer and she also provides exceptional customer care at the back end of the store. Feel free to ask her for help whenever you see her – she’s happy to help you.