The adoption of the World Programme for Action concerning Disabled Persons in 1982 laid the foundation for a new approach to disability, with the goals of full participation and equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities. The World Programme of Action has time and again reinforced the role of persons with disabilities as both agents and beneficiaries of development. The onus is on taking action so that persons with disability do not end up being referred to as a “vulnerable group” but rather, that disability itself will be considered as a cross-cutting theme in any emerging goals on sustainable development. In Madhya Pradesh, India, a unique experiment with organic farming is mainstreaming people with disabilities.
39-year-old Mahadev Charokar is vision impaired but has got amazing hearing, olfactory and tactical senses. He can differentiate between various denominations of currency notes, can walk up to his farms 1.5 km away and even lead a bullock-driven plough on fields.
When Naman Seva Samiti decided to introduce organic farming in Betul, he emerged as one of the most dedicated foot soldiers. In his village, Jwara, around 27 farmers have turned to organic thanks to Charokar’s efforts. He not only makes his own organic manure, but also trains other farmers on biodynamic compost making and natural seed treatment.
Making accurate measurements of various components, assessing quality of cow dung and digging compost pits, the man does not inspire awe anymore. The villagers have got so used to his skills and calibre that they see him more as an efficient farmer than a vision impaired man doing something extraordinary, an indication that Charokar’s mainstreaming is complete.
“For me as well as for others my lack of sight is not an impediment anymore. I can speak well which inspires and instils faith in people,” he asserts.
Charokar is a master trainer on organic manure and composting, a profile which takes him to other villages and gets extra income. Now he is planning to open a small shop from where farmers can easily access organic manure.
Read more on how Rajesh Mahatule’s farming efforts go beyond his wheelchair and how a collective of specially-abled farmers is breathing life into soil through the organic route.