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Our Founder

 

 DR. MANIBHAI DESAI (1920-1993)

 

Manibhai Bhimbhai Desai was born in Kosmada village in Surat district of Gujarat on April 27, 1920. As a young student, he joined Mahatma Gandhi during the Quit India Movement. In 1945, he received a letter from Gandhiji to come to Sevagram Ashram in Wardha. In 1946, Gandhiji established the Nature Cure Ashram at Urulikanchan near Pune and entrusted its responsibility to Manibhai.

During a span of 47 years, he not only promoted nature cure but also established BAIF Development Research Foundation (formerly known as the Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation). 

Dedicated Services to Rural Development

Realizing that livestock was a degraded liability and threat to the environment, he developed a programme to promote crossbreeding, using the non-descript cow as a seed bed. He was responsible for introduction of frozen semen technology for providing efficient livestock breeding services in the field. This has helped install feeding of cattle and conservation of forests, while providing gainful employment to rural people. He demonstrated that with three crossbred cows, a poor family can lead a sustainable livelihood. Today frozen technology has been successfully adopted throughout the country, enabling millions of rural poor to ensure their food security.


With a view to address the problem of water shortage in arid and semi-arid regions, he promoted lift irrigation schemes, as a part of the drought relief programme. Lift irrigation is popular in Maharashtra even today As an extension of wastelands, he promoted agri-horti-forestry for rehabilitation of poor families belonging to scheduled tribes. This programme popularly known as wadi, has become a role model, widely recognized in India and abroad. This programme presently benefiting over a million families, has demonstrated the viability to provide sustainable livelihood to small farmers without destroying the green cover.

He emphasized the need for empowering the rural women for ensuring sustainable livelihood and better quality of life. Manibhai promoted the development of People's Organizations at the grass-root level to support their own development programmes in close association with the Gram Panchayats.

 

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