Table of Contents
Exam View: Natural farming, Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati Programme (BPKP), Significance of Natural Farming in India, Green Revolution, Issues Associated with Natural Farming in India, Government Initiatives.
In News: To rejuvenate our soil, it is time natural farming is taken up on scale.
- Natural farming is a method of agriculture that seeks to create a balanced and self-sustaining ecosystem in which crops can grow without the use of synthetic chemicals or genetically modified organisms. It is considered as agroecology based diversified farming system which integrates crops, trees, and livestock with functional biodiversity.
- It encourages the breakdown of organic matter by microorganisms and earthworms right on the soil surface, gradually adding nutrients to the soil over time.
- Instead of relying on artificial inputs like synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, natural farmers rely on techniques like crop rotation, intercropping, and composting to enhance soil health and support crop growth.
- The goal of natural farming is to produce healthy, nutritious food in a way that is sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Significance of Natural Farming in India
Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati Programme (BPKP)
- A centrally sponsored scheme under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY).
- Promote traditional indigenous practices which reduce externally purchased inputs.
- It is largely based on on-farm biomass recycling with major stress on biomass mulching, use of on-farm cow dung-urine formulations, periodic soil aeration and exclusion of all synthetic chemical inputs.
- It is considered as a cost- effective farming practice with scope for raising employment and rural development.
Challenges Associated with Natural Farming in India
- Yields drop: India’s first organic state, Sikkim, has started seeing a decline in its yields after a few years.
- Difficulty in controlling pests and diseases: Natural farmers may have more difficulty controlling pests and diseases compared to conventional farmers, who can use synthetic chemicals to treat these problems.
- More vulnerable to climate changes: Natural farming methods may be more vulnerable to weather and climate change, as they do not rely on synthetic inputs to boost crop growth. This can be a challenge for farmers in India, where the climate can be unpredictable.
- Agricultural Practice: In spite of the rapid commercialization of agriculture in India, most farmers assume cereals will always be their main crop (due to skewed Minimum Support Prices in favour of cereals) and ignore crop diversification.
- Limited Resources and Time Constraint: Natural farming often requires more labour and other resources compared to conventional farming methods. For example, natural farmers may need to spend more time and effort on tasks like composting, crop rotation, and intercropping.
- Conviction among Policy Makers: As of now, policymakers fear for the food security of the nation and are non-committal on any major changes in the agriculture sector.
- Holistic approaches: With the increase in the population and food demand a transformational process towards ‘holistic’ approaches such as agroecology, agroforestry, climate-smart agriculture, and conservation agriculture is a necessity.
- Grants and subsidies to farmers who adopt natural farming.
- To provide education and training to farmers on natural farming techniques and the benefits of this approach.
- Encouraging the development of local and sustainable food systems: such as farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture programs could help to promote natural farming in India by creating a demand for naturally grown products.
- Research and Development: Investing in research and development to improve natural farming techniques and to demonstrate their effectiveness could help to increase the adoption of natural farming in India.
There are many successful examples of natural farming around the country where agriculture is practised in conjunction with animal husbandry. Fertiliser subsidy is skyrocketing, and fertiliser use efficiency is decreasing, but we are still dithering. It is time we look at natural farming afresh, validate it scientifically and practice it on the scale. Soil, in our culture, is called ‘mother’. Only when our mother is healthy, we, as her offspring, will be healthy