Natural farming is an environmentally benign ecological farming approach practiced by millions of farmers throughout the world. In this post, we will discuss one of the most well-known and extensively utilized ways in India.
What exactly is Natural Agriculture?
Natural farming is a chemical-free agricultural approach derived from traditional Indian farming practices.
Padma Shri Subhash Palekar, an agriculturist, invented the Natural Farming method detailed in this article, commonly known as the SPNF system, in the mid-1990s.
The SPNF technique was touted as a chemical-free, low-budget agricultural alternative to the Green Revolution farming system, which heavily used chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and intense irrigation.
Subash Palekar's Natural Farming Foundation
The SPNF technique is built on four ancient agricultural methods’ pillars or wheels:
● Beejamrit (Seed Treatment) is a method that involves cow manure and urine, as well as a combination of hydrated lime, water, and soil, to be applied prior to seeding.
● Jeevamrit (Soil Fertility) is a combination of fresh cow dung and old cow urine (both from India’s indigenous cow breed), jaggery, pulse flour (excluding oil-based commodities), water, and soil that can be used to stabilize the soil.
● Aachhadan (Mulching) uses agricultural wastes to protect topsoil during agriculture rather than tilling, which destroys it. This procedure also aids in the prevention of water evaporation and contributes to the creation of soil humus.
● Waapsa (Soil Aeration) is the presence of both air molecules and water molecules in the soil. As a result, watering requirements are reduced.
Natural Farming Advantages
The growing expense of external agricultural inputs and chemicals is the major cause of farmer insolvency and suicide. According to data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), about 70% of agricultural households spend more than they make, and more than half of all farmers are in debt.
Whereas with Natural Farming, there is no need to pay money or borrow money for external inputs, therefore production costs may be minimized and farming can be turned into a “Minimal budget” operation.
At a time when chemical-intensive farming is degrading soil and the ecosystem, a low-cost environmentally friendly agricultural approach is unquestionably a crucial undertaking.
The SPNF approach encourages soil aeration, limited watering, intercropping, bunds, and topsoil mulching while discouraging heavy agriculture and deep plowing. It is appropriate for all crops throughout all modern agricultural zones. Citing the benefits of SPNF, Andhra Pradesh announced an ambitious vision in June 2018 to become India’s first state to embrace 100 percent natural farming by 2024.
The Way Forward
Before attempting to reach the lofty goal of SPNF, a slew of fundamental marketing challenges must be solved.
As an example:
● Infrastructure for agricultural markets is being strengthened.
● Extending the procurement process to all states for all food-grain and non-food grain crops.
● Implementation of a price-deficit payment scheme for certain crops.
● Fixing minimum support prices (MSP) in accordance with agricultural costs.
● Getting rid of the minimal export price for agricultural goods.
● Immediate action is required to enact laws on the “right to sell at MSP.”
● MGNREGS must also be integrated with agricultural work in order to lower the cost of agriculture, which has risen at an alarming rate in recent years.
Unless these challenges are addressed, tripling farmers’ income will remain a pipe dream. Farmer’s ease of business operations and convenience of lifestyle should be considered in this perspective.