Neeraj Kumar Prajapati -also known as The Bicycle Man of India
Agriculture, with its allied sectors, is the largest source of livelihood in India. 70 % of its rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, with 82% of farmers being small and marginal.
The pressure on land is an outcome of policy, which condemns most people to marginal farming. India needs a different set of solutions for agriculture and for those working the land.
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Failing to do so means not just a failure of human development, but also leads to a huge political and social problem. –under-employed and dissatisfied youth are a national security threat, becoming fodder for radicalization, a life of crime, or worse.
Wrong methods of farming contribute majorly to environmental degradation including deforestation, climate change, global warming, biodiversity loss, dead zones, genetic engineering, irrigation problems, pollutants, soil degradation, and waste.
Leading contributors to low agricultural productivity are – average farm size, poor infrastructure, low use of farm technologies, decrease in soil fertility due to over-fertilization, and sustained pesticide use.
We as citizens need to wake up and accept that very soon, these issues will lead to major food scarcity for a population that is growing year by year.
One awakened young man responded to this urgent need and decided to travel for 1,11,111 km across India on his cycle, trying to solve farmers’ problems and promote organic farming.
Neeraj Kumar Prajapati -also known as The Bicycle Man of India.
Neeraj has already cycled over 45800 km and has met over 90,000 farmers and promoted organic farming and pesticide usage and how it has impacted our farm produce.
Neeraj is not any superhuman. But a human who is super..!!
Just a simple middle-class youth from the small town of Gohana block near Sonipat, Haryana. His father worked with the Border security forces. Hence, there were deep patriotic emotions to serve his country, from childhood. Ja Jawaan -was his motto.
The second major influence was his brother, who worked in science and technology, exporting technologies to other countries like the USA, Germany & Hungary etc. and Jai Vigyyan was his agenda.
So, it was natural that Neeraj walked on similar lines as JAI KISAN as his goal.
He joined engineering at Defense college RJIT Gwalior BSF Academy, Tekanpur and worked on robotics and technology. He entered competitions and explored various innovative ideas. Two years into software etc, he felt, this was not his path in life.
He needed to do something more to feel worthwhile. He followed this calling and changed his goals in life. He gave up his Btech and started working for a local company that made agricultural products. He had to visit various villages to market those products and his connection with local farmers started from there.
He wanted to do more for his fellow citizens. He came to know about a special train which ferried hundreds of cancer patients to Bikaner from Punjab’s Abohar, Bathinda for subsidized and affordable treatment. He was shocked that in today’s times also, there was such a catastrophic impact of cancer-causing chemicals in farmlands.
He gave up his job and started doing major research in areas where there were maximum cancer patients and all roads lead to tremendous use of pesticides in farm produce. He realized that the use of pesticides had to stop. Better farming methods had to be taught to farmers. The new generation of farmers had to be made aware of better farming techniques.
If we as citizens keep waiting for the government alone to bring about this change, then it will get too late. There are millions of educated youth in our country who could support these local farmers but few actually care. They are busy earning their 6-figure salaries while their country ‘s 70 % rural population and the environment is moving towards a disastrous situation.
Immediate action had to be taken in collaboration with the farmers, the agricultural research centers, scientists, and the government. Neeraj decided to take action and start a mission to create awareness about the use of pesticides and their harmful effects.
His mission was to cycle 1,11,111 km, a 6-digit figure, to enter most villages and meet farmers personally, discuss their issues, give them solutions and make their voices heard in the highest offices, where policies are made.
He actually did not know cycling till a few years back. But this was the most convenient mode so he learned to cycle. He actually initiated crowdfunding on social media and bought his first cycle. He first started cycling around the Haryana villages but soon realized that the problem was worse than he expected.
After undertaking a great deal of research, he started meeting various agricultural institutes and research scholars. He realized that it was extremely important to understand the latest farming techniques and hence went into deep studies. After carrying out organic farming and GAP for 3 years, he gained the confidence to train other farmers in the nearby districts of Haryana.
He started his mission from Gohana, his village, and cycled through Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana to educate farmers about the implications of applying pesticides to their crops. He has been raising awareness of how these chemicals are leading to an increase in lung diseases and cancer cases in the country.
It has been 3 years since he started this mission and he doesn’t regret giving up his Btech and serving his country in his own way. Covid did stall his plans but he is back to his mission with greater strength. In 2023, he plans to visit Uttarakhand, Himachal and Jammu Kashmir.
He started training the farmers and in just a short span, has connected with more than 90,000 farmers. It is difficult to ascertain his reach because each gathering, when he addresses the villagers, is packed with hundreds of farmers, who now follow his farming advice. Neeraj taught them the techniques of organic farming and also devised marketing channels and selling points for their produce. Today, all these farmers are not only getting to earn more but are also producing more with limited resources.
He started connecting with scientists and Agricultural research centers like-
ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi
ICAR-Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal
ICAR-National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Microorganisms (NBAIM)
ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Sciences, Bhopal
ICAR-Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi
ICAR- Indian Institute of Farming Systems Research, Modipuram
ICAR- Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research, Karnal
ICAR-National Centre for Integrated Pest Management, New Delhi
etc 106 ICAR Institutions. 76 state agricultural Universities,
11 Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research(CGIAR) Institutions,
731 Krishi Vigyan Kendra.
His mission, purpose and response from farmers and institutes alike, have reached many senior officials working on policy making. He is actually welcomed by local farmers now, with fanfare, when he reaches the village boundaries. They host him and a proper workshop and lectures are organized in advance. This is the advantage of having a good response and feedback system.
Soon, he started getting invites from important institutes and people on high posts as his impact was result oriented. The highlight of his mission till now has been meeting with –
Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare & President of the ICAR Society, Krishi Bhavan, New Delhi.GOI
Padamshri Dr K.L. Chadha, Ex-Horticulture Commissioner GOI. Father of Horticulture.
Louise Luttikholt, Executive Director World Board ,IFOAM Germany.
He has connected with 15+ Padma Shri awardees (farmers & scientists),2500+ International & Indian Agricultural Research scientists, and 5000+ research scholars across the globe.
His future plans are to create one platform globally to connect farmers, scientists & agricultural officials together. Make easy ways to transfer technologies from LAB TO LAND.
The more he traveled and met scientists and innovative farmers during his cycle journey, the more he learnt. He believes in sharing his knowledge so more can benefit. He held workshops and explained all the new techniques of farming which has helped them to multiply their production capacity.
Due to this additional income, thousands of farmer families have been able to come out of poverty and get rid of loans. He also helps in getting them treated organically for long term illnesses.
There are hundreds of positive reviews on social media to support his work.
Talking to Neeraj was motivating due to his high level of enthusiasm. Extremely childlike.
He says, he would like to encourage the youth, “the youth of India is focusing on practical knowledge and work for the sustainable development of the nation.”
Most of the time, people want to contribute to rural development or in some way, work on some social initiatives, but they just don’t want to venture out of their comfort zone or take risks. The fear of failure or what people will say or their standing in social media holds them back.
So, today’s millennials, who are earning huge salary packages, must get inspired by someone like Neeraj, and at least help to support small farmers or people working in remote difficult terrains, by bridging the gap. Neeraj, in his own way, started with a small idea, and took the leap of faith, with no support or financial backup, but he had faith in his dream and project. He had confidence in his research and process. And this trust in your own potential is what differentiates normal citizens and change-makers.
Salute to one inspirational youth icon of India- The Agriculture man- The bicycle man of India.
Neeraj Kumar Prajapati – 918962955685
Email- [email protected]
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