Meet Vitthal Hari Mandole (Vithoba) from Khadki Budruk village of Jalgaon district in Maharashtra, the farmer who tilled his land with a cot because he could not afford a plough and a pair of bulls.
Vitthal Mandole’s family members have been working as farm labourers for many generations. Until about eight years ago, Vitthal (known as Vithoba in his village) was doing the same. But then, he realized things had to change if he was to make life better for his children and their children.
So he stopped working on other people’s farms and took a farm on lease himself.
He had to pay Rs. 25,000 per year for this 3 acre land. But life began to improve.
Vithoba was sending both his sons to school. His wife would work with him on the farm and they were able to live a simple but decent life.
However, the good days didn’t last long. Vithoba’s elder son, Santosh, kept falling sick and left his studies after Class 8. In 2013, Santosh had to go for a major operation as his intestines were infected. The medical expenses were huge and Vithoba had to take a loan of Rs. 2 lakh at a heavy interest rate.
“The banks were not ready to give me a loan as I did not own any land. So I had to take one from a money lender at a high interest rate,” says Vithoba.
This unfortunate incident was followed by a drought, which made things even worse for Vithoba. The interest on the loan was increasing day by day.
But Vithoba was not going to give up. He and his wife worked day and night on the farm. But ultimately a farmer’s hard work can yield results only if the rains support him. And in Vithoba’s case, the rains failed him.
The 3 acre land gave a yield of just 2 quintals of cotton in the year 2015. Vithoba just about managed to pay the lease amount for the farm. His wife too started falling sick because she was overworked, and his younger son Rahul had to stop his education.
The family was devastated! Vithoba, however, was still not going to give up hope.
He decided to take the land on lease again, in spite of the fact that he would have to pay Rs. 25,000 at the end of this year even if the yield was not good.
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But there was another big challenge before him. He did not have bulls and a plough. To hire a bull he would have to pay Rs. 500 per bull per day, and to buy a pair of bulls he would require Rs. 70,000. Both these options were next to impossible for him at the moment.
He would go to the farm, sit on his cot and think about how he could till his fields without a pair of bulls and a plough. And he would come back home without a solution.
June 22, 2016, was just another day when he went to his farm early in the morning and started gazing at his field. All of a sudden, his eyes alighted on a cot that was kept in a corner. He noticed that the foot of the cot looked similar to a plough and, immediately, the idea of using the cot as a plough struck him.
Vithoba placed two heavy stones on one end of the cot and started ploughing the field by holding on to the other end.
“I started at 10 in the morning and did not stop till 8 at night, until I finished ploughing the entire 3 acres. For the next three days I had severe body aches but I was happy that the job was done. And who would have done this if not me? My family relies on me and I have to do everything I can to feed them,” says Vithoba
Vithoba has sown 5 bags of cotton seeds and a little maize this year. He is hoping to get the right amount of rainfall so he can repay his loan, take his elder son and wife to a good doctor, and send his younger son to college. Many villagers have visited him to learn his ‘technique’ of ploughing the field and are motivated by his work.
“Kadhi himmat haraychi naaye (Never lose hope),” concludes Vithoba.
If you wish to help this brave farmer, you can call him at 7798348533.
If you would like to offer financial support, his bank details are:
Vitthal Hari Mandole
A/P -Khadki Bk.Tal- Chalisgaon. Dist-Jalgaon
Central Bank Of India
IFSC Code-CBIN 0284237