Natural Farming is a chemical-free alias traditional farming method. It is considered as agroecology based diversified farming system which integrates crops, trees and livestock with functional biodiversity.
In India, Natural farming is promoted as Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati Programme (BPKP) under centrally sponsored scheme- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY). BPKP is aimed at promoting traditional indigenous practices which reduces 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. According to HLPE Report, natural farming will reduce dependency on purchased inputs and will help to ease smallholder farmers from credits burden.
Reasons for its prominence
- Natural Farming maximises the quantity of ‘crop per drop’ by working with different crops that support each other and cover the soil to reduce excessive water loss via evaporation.
- Natural farming eliminates health risks and dangers since it does not utilise synthetic chemicals. The food has a higher nutritional density and so provides more health advantages.
- The greatest direct influence of Natural Farming is on soil biology—on bacteria and other living creatures like earthworms. The health of the soil is largely dependent on the live creatures that inhabit it.
- It assures enhanced soil biology, increased agrobiodiversity, and more efficient water use with substantially lower carbon and nitrogen footprints.
- It creates jobs through natural agricultural input enterprises, value addition, local marketing, and so on. The profits from natural farming are reinvested in the village. Because it has the potential to provide jobs, it can help to reduce rural youth migration.
- It is seen as a cost-effective agricultural method with the potential to increase employment and rural development.
- The incorporation of livestock into the agricultural system is critical in natural farming and aids in the restoration of the environment. Jivamrit and Beejamrit are eco-friendly bio-inputs made from cow dung and urine, as well as other natural resources.
- Changes in soil structure caused by organic carbon, no/low tillage, and plant variety are promoting plant development even in harsh conditions such as severe droughts and withstanding catastrophic flood and wind damage caused by cyclones. Many farmers benefit from NF because it makes crops more resistant to weather extremes.
How to expand the scope of natural farming
- Scientific study is needed to validate the practise of natural farming. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research is developing a natural farming curriculum for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses, which is a promising beginning step.
- The experience in Andhra Pradesh demonstrates that a transition may be effective if farmers are persuaded and gradually ease into natural farming, which can take three to five years. As a result, the government should provide sufficient time and develop awareness campaigns with realistic examples. Civil Society Organizations can help encourage farmer-to-farmer capacity building for sustainable agriculture.
- While promoting natural farming, a balanced approach should be taken. The example of Sri Lanka, where the government immediately stopped the use and import of artificial fertilisers, must be remembered. This resulted in a major decline in output and a food shortfall.
- Pesticide use in India is several times lower than in nations such as the United States and Japan. Farmers must utilise chemicals wisely in order to reduce pesticide use even further.
National policy should transition from food security to nutrition security, focusing beyond yields. The government may help with the transition while bearing short-term losses. Instead of input-based subsidies for fertiliser and electricity, the emphasis should be on incentivizing outputs such as nutrition output, water conservation, and desertification reversal.
How to structure
- Give an intro about natural farming
- Explain why its getting lots of attention and explain the need
- Mention the challenges faced in its adaptation
- Suggest innovate measures in making natural farming more popular