“Sangharsh hi sabse badi kaamyaabi hai. Agar badhna hai to peeche mud kar nahi dekhna hai.” (The capacity to struggle itself is a big effort. There is no looking back, if one has to keep on moving forward).
For Dharamveer Kamboj, an innovator who encountered many hurdles on the road to success, these are not pompous words but a truism by which he lives his life. This multifaceted innovator wears many hats. Best known for his multipurpose processing machine that enables farmers to process various farm products on a domestic level, he also sells Aloe vera juice, gel, amla juice and other amla products and a whole range of herbal products. He also grows medicinal plants in his fields in addition to selling safed musli seeds and Aloe vera saplings to other farmers.
Born in 1963, Dharamveer was the youngest amongst five siblings. He used to assist his father in farming and running an aata chakki (flour mill) and gur bhatti (jaggery processing plant). However, it was his mother who played a critical role in inculcating in him a love for nature. He was very close to her and would often help her in plucking and taking care of Kesuda flowers, which she used as colours for playing Holi. Already inquisitive by nature, this laid the foundation for his life-long pursuit of learning more about the plants around him.
About this time, a chance encounter further deepened Dharamveer’s interest in herbs. In 1980, a holy man visited his village and gave him knowledge of different herbs and Ayurvedic medicines. This interaction made him realize the potential of earning a good living through cultivation of herbs. He also came to know a lot about herbs and their uses while working as a rickshaw puller in the old city area of Delhi where he used to ferry passengers dealing in herbs.
An innovator at heart, he was the first farmer in the area to cultivate hybrid tomatoes and maintain a record of his produce. In 1990, he developed a battery operated spraying machine using a tape recorder motor. For catching insects, he tried various things including the use of adhesive tape as an insect trap. To maximize returns from his farm, he practiced intercropping by cultivating coriander, bottle gourd and sugarcane. He also developed a special implement to plough the field without disturbing the sugarcane crop. In 1991, he started growing mushrooms under the guidance of the Department of Horticulture.