In the year 1890 when Baramati was in severe famine people were starving for food and water and started famine riots. To fulfill their hunger, British rulers started building the Nira left Bank Canal, Khadakwasla Canal Pune and Krishna Canal near Karad. In the later time Britishers constructed Loyed Bhatghar Dam on Nira River in 1930. The Nira left bank canal provided water to twenty two villages in Baramati tehsil. As an agrarian economy basically Indian people are at the mercy of the monsoon and agricultural harvest. Baramati region is in the rain shadow and is one of the areas with lowest rain. This situation of Baramati, a rain shadow and lowest rain area somewhat changed in twenty-two villages after the construction of Veer Dam by the British government in 1930 benefitting agriculturists of these villages. The Nira left bank canal divided Baramati tehsil into two parts – 22 villages reaped the bounty of nature while the remaining 43 villages were looking at the sky for a drop of water. People from these villages were poverty stricken and had to move for work to the richer parts of Baramati tehsil. Meantime, two Australian ladies from Church Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), Miss.Hessel Skues and Miss Edna Wazar started humanitarian work in the region by distributing free wheat and oil to the famine stricken people. In 1965, ‘Son of the Soil,’ Mr.Sharad Pawar, a young graduate while working for the people of this region realized the need of water for irrigation to change the drastic situation. He found that due to the geographical condition, it was difficult to irrigate the land from alternate sources. A survey revealed that there were about 200 streams flowing in the region during the rainy season but they would dry up soon. So Mr.Sharad Pawar thought to construct percolation tanks in some of the villages but there was no source of money for this work. In these circumstances, he convinced Miss Skues and Miss Wazar to distribute wheat and oil to the local people under the scheme of ‘Food for Work’. Under this scheme, the first percolation tank was constructed at Tandulwadi near Baramati in the year 1967. Mr.Sharad Pawar did commendable work in the region without the assistance of the government. He helped in the construction of eighty percolation tanks in the villages. Due to these percolation tanks, the free flowing water during the monsoon was stored.
In seventies , whole baramati tract was drought prone and agriculture was totally dependent on the vagaries of Monsoon. To save and utilize every drop of water was only way to save crop and cattle. Water conservation was need of the hour for subsistence and sustenance of livelihood. Training the farmers to adopt scientific package and practices in rainfed agriculture and dry land horticulture was also the imminent need to overcome the natural adversities. Considering all these factors Mr.Sharad Pawar decided to establish Agricultural Development Trust in 1971.
He approached Christian Missionary Lurtheron World relief U.S.A., Christian Aid London and Teredes Home, Germany for financial assistance towards bank guarantee for the farmers. The Central Bank of India issued loans to the farmers for digging wells against the guarantee of the Trust and it increased number of wells in this region. Mr.Sharad Pawar persuaded Kirloskar Oil Engines Company to donate oil engines to the farmers. Kirloskar Oil Company had given sixty engines in the beginning to the farmers at half the price. The work started picking up in the region and the Trust constructed nearly 289 percolation tanks in these forty three villages. The scenario in the villages started changing. Mr.Sharad Pawar got elected as an MLA from Baramati constituency in 1967 for the first time. He became Minister of State for Agriculture and food Supplies in 1972 in the government of Maharashtra.
Due to his busy schedule, Sharadchandraji Pawar asked his elder brother Appasaheb Pawar to come forward and share the responsibility of Trust as a Chairman and look into all activities of the Trust. Appasaheb Pawar started working in the trust from 1976.
The brothers dreamed to bring a change in the region and to bring a smile on the faces of poverty stricken farmers of Baramati tehsil. Appasaheb’s visit to Israel in 1970 proved to be a turning point in the field of agriculture. His firsthand experience of irrigation practices in Israel inspired him to apply the same in Baramati and change the lives of the farmers. The Trust got the barren land of 110 acres near Malegaon (kh) village. The Pawar brothers started work on the farm and within ten years this barren land was converted into a lush green area. They started educating the farmers about various crops, horticulture, irrigation practices, fertigation, organic farming, etc. Farmers from various parts of the state flocked to the demonstration farm for learning. Thousands of farmers took lessons and inspiration from the Trust farm and implemented these experiments on their farms.
The Trust expanded its activities beyond agriculture to Dairy, Poultry, Goatery, Nursery, Agri processing etc. Due to hybrid cows and quality fodder, the production of milk increased and the villagers started supplying milk to the cities like Pune and Mumbai. Ample money flowed in and improved the standard of living of the farmers. They were assured of a square meal and good sleep. Mechanization of agriculture was the next phase. The farmers could purchase tractors, electric pump sets and other modern farm equipment’s for agriculture and this improved agricultural yield. The Trust helped the farmers by supplying quality seeds, seedlings and fertilizers. Mr.Sharad Pawar and Mr. Appasaheb Pawar did not confine their work only to agriculture but they started developing Baramati region. The Trust provided assistance to the people to start entrepreneurship, industries and agri-allied small businesses like poultry, dairy, agri produce processing. This provided a regular source of livelihood to the farmers. There were no dispensaries in the villages at that time. Therefore, the Trust with the help of Teredes Homes, an organization from Germany started a mobile dispensary. In addition, a mobile veterinary dispensary was also started for the villagers. This brought health awareness in the region. Dr. Appasaheb Pawar thought of education of women. Farmers would not send their girls far away for education for the reason of safety and security and this brought the percentage of girl education to meager in the villages. Dr. Appasaheb thought of a residential educational complex for girls near Malegaon. It started with the education college for women in 1989. Along with this he started the primary school, secondary school, Shardabai Pawar College for women, Arts Teacher Diploma College, D.Ed. College, Nursing College and hostels with a capacity of eight hundred girls. The farmers had full trust in Dr. Appasaheb Pawar. They started sending their girls to the school and colleges from remote places. Today, the Shardanagar education complex is one of the ideal women educational complexes in the country. Near about 6000 girls are seeking education in different disciplines.
After sad demise of Dr. Appasaheb Pawar in the year 2000, Mr.Rajendra Pawar and Mrs. Sunanda Pawar took the reins of the Trust. They diversified the activities of the trust in various fields like environment, education, food processing, new experiments in agriculture, Self Help Groups for women, Srujan– the cultural youth festival, Bhimthadi Jatra- a fair for the sale of articles of Self Help Groups and new methods of water conservation. They increased the capacity of the hostels and now two thousand girls are residing there. The Trust also has a competitive examination cell, police recruitment training centre and training for girls for entrepreneurship development. Thousands of girls completed their graduation and are working in different fields. The trust has started Agricultural College with various international degree programme in agriculture and veterinary in collaboration with the Van Hall Larenstein Institute, Netherlands. UC Davis-California, Asian Institute of Technology-Bangkok, Yunan Agri University China etc. The Trust is a torch bearer in all spheres of lives of the people in this region. The Agricultural Development Trust has become a unique conglomerate helping people right from agriculture to education and health to entrepreneurship. The dream seen by the two Visionary Pawar brothers to develop the lives of the people of Baramati is being realized by the next generation and it is striving to make them educated, competent, industrious and prosperous by all aspects.