Skip to main content

Centre-point of learning: Remarkable natural farming entrepreneur of Lidhaura Tal village

By Bharat Dogra* 

While a lot of research has strengthened the case for spreading natural farming, a practical factor which has hindered its spread in India is that several farmers find it difficult to take up production of organic manures and pest-repellants for self-use, even though all the raw materials are available right within their home or close to them. 
In the most commonly used natural farming practices in India, organic soil nutrients (solid and liquid) are made using cow dung and cow urine with some jaggery and gram flour thrown in, these being mixed and stored for a certain number of days while organic soil-repellants are generally prepared in the form of concentrated sprays based on leaves of certain plants which are known to keep away pests. Ideally a natural farmer would be preparing this for self-use, but many find this difficult and so this becomes an inhibiting factor.
One way of overcoming this is for some farmers within the village to assume the role of ‘natural farming entrepreneurs’ by taking up production of organic nutrients and pest-repellants on a scale much higher than their own requirements so that this can be sold to other farmers of this village who need this in ready-made form.
An effort to spread natural farming based in Tikamgarh district (MP) which is fast spreading to several other districts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and some other places as well has placed a lot of faith in several such natural farming entrepreneurs who are known for their deep commitment to natural farming. 
This effort, which involves Self-Reliant Initiatives through Joint Action (SRIJAN) and Bundelkhand Initiative for Water, Agriculture and Livelihoods ( BIWAL), has set up resource centres with the help of such natural farming entrepreneurs (more commonly called Prakriti Shiksha Kendra or natural farming centre by villagers) in several villages.
Recently I visited one such centre in Lidhaura Tal village which is managed by a very remarkable natural farming entrepreneur named Balchand Aharwal. Near the entrance there is a cow shed where the urine flows in such a way that it gets collected in a tank. On the other side there are several farming tools like power tillers and sprayers which can be hired on daily basis. 
Then the various forms of organic nutrients made are displayed along with a rate list. A quick calculation reveals that even after considering that a higher quantity of organic nutrients may be required by a farmer for per acre use compared to chemical fertilizers, the cost of the organic nutrient works out to about one-third. 
In the case of the organic pest-repellant the cost is much, much lesser compared to various chemical pesticides in use. This includes a reasonable return for the entrepreneur. Thus the farmers who opt for organic soil nutrients save a lot of money, get sustainable benefits, protect environment, and what is more, whatever little money they spend on this remains within his village. 
Although this is new work, Balchand has sold Rs 60,000 worth of these organic soil nutrients and organic pest-repellants already. What is more, if the government subsidizes these much more useful organic nutrients to the same or greater extent than chemical fertilizers, then of course both farmers and farming entrepreneurs can benefit significantly from this, and this work can progress even more.
Further ahead traditional seeds of diverse varieties collected from in and around the village are stored. Then there is a newly constructed room for conducting training in natural farming. Beyond this there are fields of natural farming of food grains and legumes, as well as vegetable garden and orchard.
Such a centre can thus become a central point for learning about natural farming as well as for getting the necessary inputs for this. An additional point made by a senior activist was that as the number of abandoned cattle roaming around is very high in Bundelkhand region, it should be easy to get some of them for this purpose of getting soil-nutrients, whether by an individual farmer or a centre, while also taking care of them.
In this entire effort the lead role has been given to women farmers and special attention is given to ensure adequate representation to those from weaker sections. Women farmers have been found to be quite receptive to natural farming as they find these to be a means of reducing costs and increasing self-reliance. At a time when people are emerging from such difficult times as those of COVID and lockdowns, there is likely to be even more inclination for efforts to reduce costs.
These efforts are being strengthened at the level of farmer producer organizations as well as by more articulate rural women like Varsha Patel, who has emerged as the CEO of the Ken-Betwa farmer producer organization. 
She says -- awareness of health related and other benefits of natural farming is increasing and hence there is increased acceptability of natural farming among women. The fact that here the entire effort including FPO and self-help groups is largely a woman-led effort makes it all the more relevant as a significant force of social change as well.
Another factor which makes these efforts more valuable for present times is that these contribute in important ways to climate change adaptation as well as mitigation, apart from contributing to reducing the economic crisis as well as indebtedness of farmers in more obvious ways.
---
*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include ‘India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food', ‘Man over Machine' and ‘Planet in Peril'. This is the third article of the series on sustainable farming

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Union budget 'mum' on relief to marginalised communities facing climate change impact

Counterview Desk  ActionAid, an international advocacy group which claims to work for a world without poverty, patriarchy and injustice, has wondered if the Union budget 2023-24, which is being acclaimed for providing succour to the middle classes, has anything to offer to the India's poor. In a statement, it said, while the budget may have "prioritised inclusive development", the financial outlay for ensuring it "does not show the zeal as hoped." Stating that the Finance Minister said Rs 35,000 crore revenue would have to be "forgone" due to a reduction in personal income taxes, "fiscal prudence is not enough to expand public employment, social security, welfare, education and health expenditures considerably." "The need of the hour is to raise revenues through the reduction of revenues forgone and innovative mechanisms such as wealth tax on super accumulation of wealth", it added. Text: The Union Budget 2023 has given significant

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Lack of welfare schemes, BSF curbs force West Bengal farmers to migrate far away

Counteview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson, a senior West Bengal based activist has complained that villagers living near the border with Bangladesh are forced to migrate to as far away as Mumbai and Kerala because of lack of government sensitivity towards their welfare in original villages. Giving specific instances, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), said, if the Border Security Force (BSF) had not put any restriction on agricultural activities, and if villages had properly implemented welfare schemes, these people would never migrate to other States. Text: I want to attract your immediate attention to the inhumane condition of the migrated workers of Gobra village, Swarupnagar Block in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to seek your urgent intervention to protect the rights of these people. Gobra is a village situated near the Indo-Bangladesh Border where the border fencing is about 500 meters i

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen