Professor Shripad A. Dabholkar (1924 – May 2001) was an Indian intellectual and activist. He was the founder of a non-structured methodology of grassroot networking for nature-friendly and human-friendly neighbourhood development called the Prayog Pariwar methodology (Experimenting Communities). This approach to farming and living share some common traits with Masanobu Fukuoka "natural farming" and permaculture. He was a recipient of the 1985 Jamnalal Bajaj Award.
Shripad A. Dabholkar was an educationist. He aimed to shape education as a tool for total change in the life situation of an average worker in rural areas. Dabholkar realized the limitation of conventional academic system in which he played a part as a teacher for 25 years. He left it to undertake the task of educating farmers through demystification of science, adopting non-formal methods of knowledge communication.
Dabholkar was a lone campaigner but succeeded in creating mass awareness and interest in farmers, who the formed their own groups even in his absence. His network building resulted in a new sociology of science and education. He started his work in Tasgaon, a village in Sangli district in Maharashtra, among the grape cultivators. Soon the productivity in the district rose to world standards and grape production became a highly productive activity, inducing small farmers to turn to it. Dabholkar then successfully extended the applied research to other crops as well.
Prayog Pariwar methodology
Prayog Pariwar methodology is about networking of self-experiment ventures for nature friendly and human friendly prosperity.
The central thesis is that without depending on foreign aid or imported technology, economic development can be achieved by experimenting farmers and by common individuals in their own neighborhoods. It evolved out from an initiative by S.A. Dabholkar in Maharashtra, India, in the mid-1960s. By then the network was called Swashraya Vikas Mandal, meaning self-help and self-reliance for building new possibilities by working in one's own real-life situation.
Dabholkar described the Prayog Pariwar methodology in the book Plenty for all (Mehta Publishing House, 1998) where he defines and establishes a non structured approach for development in the neighborhood through:
- grassroot networking
- demystification of latest science, knowledge and new thoughts to generate and propagate
- people's own techno-scientific ventures
- full-fledged eco-motive rurban development all over the world.
It has proven successful. In one case in Maharashtra, farmers without formal agricultural education became India's leading grape cultivators with a turnover of over $122 million. A network involving 1,000s of small farmers. Adherents have shown that 1/4 of an acre of land and waste water can produce sufficient food to feed a family of 5 at a "high middle-class" level.
The system is also being called "Natu-eco farming".
- Plenty for All ; Prayog Pariwar Methodology, Shripad A. Dabholkar, Mehta Publishing House, 1998, ISBN 8171617492
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