Subhadra decided to sow this wheat on our farm and so began our search for this variety. A little research, however, revealed that, as usually happens, its popularity and the high price that it commands had led to many spurious varieties were being passed off as Sharbati. Most common among these was Sujatha which too is a variant of Sharbati but not of the same quality as the c 306. So this led us into a search for the true Sharbati variety. As a result we found not only the c 306 but also an extraordinary personality.
We met up with Babulal Dahiya, a farmer in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh. Babulalji is a retired postal official but right from his young age he began helping his father with farming even while studying. He also liked poetry in his native Bagheli dialect and became a well known poet in this dialect reciting his own poetry and the old Bagheli folklore. In the folklore he found mention of various varieties of rice which were not easily available. This intrigued him and he began to search for these varieties and then after getting them he began growing them on 2 acres of his farm. In this way over the years he has collected and conserved more than a hundred traditional varieties of cereals, pulses and vegetables. He has now inspired many farmers around his native village of Pithaurabad to grow these varieties and has single handedly started a mass movement for the conservation of indigenous varieties. Thus whether it is the conservation and promotion of Bagheli folklore or of indigenous seeds, Babulalji has become a crusader par excellence.
He had conserved the c 306 variety also and so I went and met him and procured the seeds from him to sow on our farm. When we began our experiment with sustainable agriculture by starting farming we had never imagined that it would lead to such a rich experience not only in terms of farming but also in meeting such extraordinary personalities.