Young farmers used social media to invite participants to the first event of its kind in this village.
In the thick of a monsoon downpour, 40 farmers, reins in hand, raced with their oxen through slushy fields in the tiny hamlet of Gawlipada in Mucheri village in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district.
The unique ploughing competition had been organised to promote farming in this picturesque region nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghats. Young farmers, aged 18 to 25, used social media to invite participants to the first event of its kind in this village.
Players had to plough a 200-metre circular track without touching the fluttering flags set along its edges, and the first to finish won ₹5,100 and a trophy. The sound of thundering hooves, loud cheers and folk songs brought alive a village that has no more than 120 families.
Dubbed a ‘festival for the farmer, by the farmer’, the competition was organised by Sunil Bhalekar, Pratik Bhojane, Sanket Bhalekar and Sanjay Kamble. It was supported by Mucheri villagers now settled in Mumbai. Bhalekar, overwhelmed by the response, said: “We are always looking for a reason for villagers to return and take up farming again.”
Images by Prashant Nakwe
First published by The Hindu on 4 Aug. 2019