New Delhi: He was amazed to receive the call. The call wasnt any ordinary one, it was a call from the Rashtrapati Bhawan inviting Jagdish Parikh, an organic farmer from Sikar , Rajasthan to come receive the Padma Shri award (India’s fourth highest Civilian award).

He chose not to pause work on his farm and ended with a simple ‘thank you.’

It was only when I flew to Delhi to receive the award did I realise its significance,” says the 72-year-old.

Widely known for highly nutritious vegetables that are nothing like the regular ones, Parikh has been an organic farmer long enough to see six Presidents of India come and go, right from Shankar Dayal Sharma to Ram Nath Kovind.

Not only that, he has even presented his unique vegetable varieties to some of the former Presidents including Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Pratibha Patil, and Pranab Mukherjee.

For instance, the average weight of the cauliflowers and pumpkins that he grows is 15 kgs and 86 kgs, respectively!

Not just that, the ridge gourds on his farm are 7 feet tall (the regular ones are 1.5 feet), the cabbages weigh 8 kgs, and the brinjals he grows are 3 feet tall!

“I use no secret ingredient,” he discloses.

The cauliflower variety made him the recipient of the first National Grassroots Innovation Awards conferred by The National Innovation Foundation. It even got him a patent in 2001, which he has named the after his village Ajitgadh as ‘Ajitgarh variety

“I wanted to put my village on a global map, and hence I named it after my janmabhoomi (birthplace).”

He took up farming 6 decades back in 1957 when he was merely 10. He would accompany his father and uncles to the market early in the morning to sell the vegetables.

“I woke up at 5, sit while my family sold the  farm harvest and then go to school this continued for about 10 tears he said .

After passing Class 12, he joined a college to pursue a BA degree, but could not clear the final year. Even so, he managed to get a job with the ONGC in Assam but returned to his village in the late sixties.

“I was not earning enough, so I returned and joined my maternal uncle on his farm. He is the reason behind all the progress I have made; he taught me the methods to grow veggies sans chemicals and prepare my own fertilisers,” shares Parikh.