For Wellbeing Of All
By Umendra Dutt
05 November, 2007
are not environmentalists, neither economist nor religious preacher
nor trained agriculture expert nor a health professional, but they still
posses and practice wisdom of all these. They practice Guru Nanak's
precept Sarbat da Bhala means well being of all in their farming. They
are natural farmers of Punjab.
There farms are laboratories
of happiness for all and this all encompasses every living creatures
of earth, every life form. It is the Farming with passion for wellbeing
of all; one can call it spiritual farming, natural farming, non-violent
agriculture or simply Nanak Kheti. These farmers are even taking care
of large verity of birds, earthworms, honey bees, butterflies and fireflies.
For them all living creatures are part of a family it is their family.
KVM preaches to adopt famous
verses of Guru Granth Sahib –"Pavnu Guru, Panni Pita Matta
Dharat Mahat" in farming practices. This holy guiding principal
should be part of life, practice and mission of farmers who want to
do natural farming.
There is a silent and constructive
revolution happening in Punjab to save the environment, regenerate ecological
resources to bring back soil productivity and re-establish ecological
balance in the farms. This is the natural farming movement of Kheti
Virasat Mission (KVM), a civil society action group headquartered in
the Jaitu town of Faridkot district. The movement is led by experienced
farmers who believe in principal of Sarbat da bhala (well being of all),"
says Amarjeet Sharma, a farmer from Chaina village, district Faridkot
who heads the village level Vatavaran Panchayat. Vatavaran Panchayats
are local-level community institutions working as decentralized participatory
civil society initiatives.
KVM is farmers based movement
dedicated to natural farming, conservation of natural resources and
traditional wisdom. Most of farmers associated with KVM works through
its Vatavaran Panchayats. KVM farmers are farmer with a mission, vision
and action he take pledges to start natural farming in one go or in
a phased manner. KVM currently has around a 100 formal and 800 informal
Natural farmers of Punjab
say that the land has witnessed the destruction of the environment and
particularly the soil ecology in the last few decades as a consequence
of chemical intensive farming. The soil has lost its nutrient pool.
Burning of paddy straw has further destroyed the soil's health.
But during the last four
to five years, the soil in several parts of Punjab has been regenerated
and rejuvenated; these natural farmers are convinced, so much so that
your feet feel happy and healthy on coming in contact with the soil.
You can see earthworm castings, which had completely disappeared in
the fields, says a visibly happy and proud Hartej Singh of Mehta village
in Bhatinda district. "Our farmers will offer you a handful of
soil which you will find soft and with all the natural aromas that are
associated with the infinite life of our earth. That is the kind of
work we are doing," he adds.
KVM has evolved a distinct
philosophy which defines soil as the 'source of infinite lives'. "Yes,
it is true and we have experienced it," avers KVM chairman and
a farmer from Rai Ke Kalan village of Bathinda, Harjant Singh. If the
soil is rich in microorganisms, its texture is soft, full of natural
essence and ample quantities of moisture are kept intact. Then the soil
gives healthy crops, and there is a lesser need for irrigation.
Harjant Singh further elaborates
on the scientific premises of natural farming. All living organisms
require nutrition and minerals for their growth, and amongst them plants,
being stationary, get their nutrition at that spot. They get carbon
dioxide and water from nature and by the process of photosynthesis,
the required amount of sugars is produced. Similarly nitrogen is available
in the air and the rhyzobia bacteria in the soil can capture it for
the plants. These microorganisms perform different functions for the
plants. "By using the chemical inputs, especially the pesticides,
we have destroyed the delicate microbial equilibrium of soil and tilted
the game in favour of external chemical inputs thus making the situation
even worst," says Singh.
KVM farmers use Jeevaamrita
(a cow urine based microbial preparation) to revive microbial activity
in soil. With the application of Jeevaamrita and Ghan Jeevaamrita (a
solid form of Jeevaamrita), the soil is gradually becoming rich in the
humus, yield has increased and other life forms are coming back in the
fields, says Charanjeet Singh Punni, another KVM farmer from Chaina
village and a natural farming trainer. Punni highlights another aspect
of natural farming. "Although the sunlight of some of its radiation
is essential for the photosynthesis, yet it is a threat to the soil
bacteria. Mulching is the best answer to this."
Mulching is an essential
part of natural farming. Natural farmers aver that when the soil is
covered with various forms of mulching, the results are unimaginable.
Earlier the soil had lost all soil bacteria, microbes and earthworms.
But after adoption of Jeevaamrita and mulching, the farms are again
becoming wealthy in soil health. Krishnan Jakhar of village Dhaba (near
Dabawali), Vinod Jyani of village Katehra, near Fazilka, Swarn Singh
of Karamgarh Shattran, Madan Lal of Bullowal in Hoshiarpur, Jarnail
Singh in Meharu , Nakodar and other natural farmers of the KVM network
are using inter crops, plant residue, fallen leaves, bushes, weeds and
sometimes even the wheat straw or the rice straw cuttings spread in
the fields to cover the naked soil. Besides protecting the bacteria
and retaining the moisture, this also keeps the temperature of the soil
low and it never goes beyond the 40 degrees Celsius, which is the upper
limit for the survival of microbes, tells Ajay Tripathi, associate director
KVM farmers have redefined,
reestablished and regenerated their mother-son relation with the soil.
They feel a spiritual bond, an oneness with the soil. That is why they
are against all forms of agro-chemicals and burning of fields - to them
it is a form of violence against the earth.
There is a common question
usually asked to KVM activists. Does the natural farming economics work?
This spiritual soil science is also more financially beneficial to these
farmers. After adopting natural farming they are spending far less from
earlier chemical farming days. Natural farming is more cost effective
and input efficient says Amarjeet Dhillon a small farmer from Dabrikhana
village, who owns only two acres of land. For example, farmers having
sugarcane and black gram in their farms have to spend virtually nothing
on inputs asserts, Dhillon. He cities several examples where farmer
had spend only Rs.100-200 on inputs for one acre as against Rs.3000
by a chemical farming farmer. "Some of us had stopped cash out
flow to cities any more to purchase Urea, DAP and pesticides and thousands
of others have reduced this out flow of cash in a big way", he
On an average in Malwa's
cotton belt farmers are spending Rs.7000 on chemical inputs per acre
annually in normal conditions. If there are more pest attacks, then
there may be no limit to this amount. There is a rough estimate that
every village is spending a large sum of money -- from Rs.40 lakhs to
Rs.6 crores -- purchasing agro-chemicals, depending upon area of cultivation
and cropping pattern. Natural farmers want to stop the loss of village
wealth by bringing down farmers' spending on agro-chemicals. This is
Kissan version of Swadeshi movement says Chamkour Singh of Dhudhike
village of Moga district. Dhudhike is famous for being birth place of
eminent freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai and other martyrs of Gadar movement.
"Our farmers are no more going to serve MNCs or big agro-chemical
corporations. We are evolving a frame work for agricultural Swadeshi
movement in Punjab. We are going to redefine Boycott and Swadeshi in
present context and scenario that is why KVM has given a slogan to its
farmers – MNCs quit our farms" he adds.
The KVM's natural farming
movement has also brings another significant change in mindset of farmers.
Now they are not looking towards Agriculture University or departmental
experts for expert advice any more. "We feel that every farmer
of ours is a expert in himself , he practice this science of natural
farming, he lives natural farming every day, he is totally engulfed
with the philosophy of natural farming" said Dr Harminder Sidhu
a Homeopath practitioner and a practicing natural farmer from village
Jalaldiwal of Raikot in Ludhiana district. "The modern agriculture
paradigm has limited the all expertise in Agriculture Universities only.
The chemicalised agriculture model has made farmers scientifically illiterate
– who are ignorant to every aspect of science and agri technology.
This is a conspiracy which has made farmers dependent on Universities,
department, companies and even pesticide retailer It is a cruel joke
that those who got a three or five year degree in agriculture with a
alien kind of agriculture knowledge, are known as experts who practice
a agriculture knowledge only 40 years old, where as the farmers who
inherent the agriculture wisdom of at least 5000 years were made commoners.
We are not going to accept this nonsense any more. We are working to
build self confidence of our farmers on their agriculture heritage and
wisdom. " adds Dr Sidhu.
The list of natural farmers
includes names from all corners of the state. The Pingalwara Charitable
Society, Amritsar, a prestigious social service institute in north India,
founded by Bhagat Puran Singh has joined natural farming and is supporting
the movement with its resources. Pingalwara has established the Bhagat
Puran Singh Natural Farming Centre in 37 acres at village Dhirakot near
Jandiala Guru. More significantly, Famous religious leader Sant Balbir
Singh Seenchewal, Sultanpur Lodhi who is more known as spiritual environmentalist,
who had successfully rejuvenated rivulet Kali Bain, has joined natural
farming movement. Now he is promoting natural farming in his spiritual
Similarly many professionals
such as those from the medical field, college and university lecturers
and professors, advocates, journalists, even government officials and
civil servants have joined this movement for rejuvenation of the soil.
They are in contact with the KVM and participate in its activities.
Now KVM is concentrating
few villages for change the entire village in natural farming field.
Two villages in Faridkot district -Chaina and Dabrikhana were chosen
for this initiative.
In the just commenced wheat
season -- from now to mid-April -- KVM activists are planning to reach
out to at least 60 blocks of the state. These activists are farmers
who work in the fields, not experts who come by when they can spare
time to propagate natural farming. They are trainers, scientists and
leaders of this ecological initiative, in the service of Mother Nature.
Author is Executive Director
of Kheti Virasat Mission, Bishnandi Bazar JAITU, 151202, District-Faridkot,
Punjab. Email: email@example.com.
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