Food and agriculture today stand at crossroads. Progress has come with huge social and environmental costs impacting the productive potential of our natural resources. It is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food. If done right, agriculture can provide nutritious food for all, generate decent incomes, while supporting people-centred rural development and protecting the planet.
According to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, around 2.78 million hectares of farmland were under organic cultivation as of March 2020. Barely 2% of the 140.1 million hectares of net sown area in the country.
In its 2019-2020 budget, the Government of India allocated Rs 3.25 billion for the promotion of zero-budget natural farming. Of this, Rs 1.2 billion was allotted to the Department of Agriculture Research and Education to conduct experiments to establish the viability of Zero Budget Natural Farming and the remaining budget allocated was to be utilised to adopt villages practicing organic farming. In comparison, subsidies on chemical fertilizers were increased by almost Rs 100 billion to Rs 800 billion
Climate Change: Conventionally, chemical agriculture is based on three fundamental assumptions: stable and predictable weather, unlimited water availability and cheap source of energy. With climate change, the world’s average temperatures are expected to rise further, and rainfall patterns are getting increasingly unpredictable. This directly impacts the existing agriculture model which is climate-change susceptible.
Nutritional Security: Extensive research has already established the impact of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on human health. Both with their direct toxic effect on humans, and in their indirect effects on the soil environment, agro-chemicals result in serious depletion in the nutritional value of agricultural produce.
Livelihoods: Chemical intensive farming has resulted in soil degradation and salinity and increase in toxicity of pesticide residues causing near-stagnant levels of productivity. Farmers are caught in debt traps owing to loans taken to meet escalating costs of farming inputs. In many parts of India, this has led to increasing farmer suicides.
How we work: Over the last 17 years, we have educated over 2.2 million farmers on sustainable natural farming techniques and created awareness on the negative impact of chemical farming. Our priority focus is small and marginal farmers, who own less than 5 acres of land.
Our trainers, our beacons of hope: We have over 2,000 teachers of natural farming teaching in 21 states of India. Our trainers help us inspire and influence the mindsets of our farmer- communities.
Protecting our seeds for our future: Our farmers preserve, propagate, share and exchange their indigenous heirloom seeds thus ensuring that this precious biodiversity does not become extinct like many before them.
Preserving our indigenous cows: Our natural farming technology is based on re-establishing the equilibrium in the soil with microbes that are found in the dung of the indigenous cow, Bos indicus. We conduct genetic backcrossing programs to improve the purity of these indigenous breeds. These superior cows are shared with our farmers across the country to help preserve their biodiversity.
We transform, one acre at a time: We help establish model farms in each of our farmer clusters across the country establishing proof of concept for natural farming techniques.
We find this a powerful driver for accelerated adoption of natural farming techniques. Soils are not only the foundation of agri-food system and where 95% of the foods we eat are produced, but their health and biodiversity are also central to our efforts to end hunger and achieve sustainable agri-food systems.
QU Dongyu, Director-General, FAO
We realized the only way to save our marginal farmers from their spiralling debt trap was to revive Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) that has constituted the fabric of Indian agriculture since ancient times.
TEK depended on the indigenous cow or Bos Indicus symbolized by the Indian Kamadenu, inside whose gut resided billions of beneficial microbes.
MICROBES – Microbes from cow-dung formulations break down complex minerals RELEASING NUTRIENTS.
INDIGENOUS SEEDS – Indigenous varieties PROMOTE BIO-DIVERSITY and provide Climate Change resilience
MIXED CROPPING – Mixed cropping utilizes resources better and MINIMIZES RISK OF FAILURE
MULCHING – Mulching promotes microbes & earthworms and REDUCES WATER FOOTPRINT
EARTHWORMS – Earthworms till the soil continuously CREATING AERATION AND PERCOLATION
ORGANIC CERTIFICATION – Organic Certiﬁcation creates supply chain linkages and ENHANCE FARMER LIVELIHOODS
From 2018-20, through mulching the soil, enhancing porosity of the soil through earthworm intervention and other natural farming techniques, our farmers reduced utilisation of water equivalent to 14,000 rural people having domestic water for a year