C. K. "Bablu" Ganguly

Ashoka Fellow
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Fellow Since 1993


This profile was prepared when C. K. "Bablu" Ganguly was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993.
The New Idea
C.K. Ganguly, also known as Bablu, has successfully rebuilt an agro-forest habitat on a 32-acre piece of land situated in one of the worst drought affected districts in India. It was facing desertification when he took it over in 1991. Beginning with systems to retain rainwater, collect seeds, and police tree cutting in the surrounding forests, Bablu has developed a holistic approach to regeneration which has restored the former ecosystem. Many different species of plants, birds, and animals now flourish in the area. Bablu's rationale in developing the piece of land, which he calls the Timbaktu Collective, was that there was no demonstrated alternative to the Forest Department's highly technical attempts to regenerate degraded land through heavy capital investment in the form of fertilizers and other chemicals. His experiment employed different regeneration systems appropriate to the people of the area, and mixed local knowledge and his own experience, on the one hand, with principles of natural farming and permaculture on the other. (The word "permaculture" was coined in the 1970s by Australian ecologist, Dr. Bill Mollison, as a contraction of permanent and agriculture. Permacultural land use employs the design of beneficial ecological associations that form living systems capable of regenerating and supporting themselves.)
Having achieved success on this first plot, Bablu is now translating his methods into a program that can be used on many other pieces of degraded land. He is spreading his Timbaktu approach to villages in the region through an alliance of voluntary agencies, agricultural unions, and village volunteers. The alliance is initiated by the people, and their commitment to protecting their land and making this approach work is high.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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