By: Ravi Chaithanya M and Srinivas Gopisettii
A glorified past:
Long back, there lived a farmer in a typical Indian village. Those times people used to have a very close association with nature and the profession of agriculture was looked upon with high regard. The proud farmer used to treat the farming land as his mother and interestingly the ‘mother earth’ also communicated with him and used to reveal to him her secrets. The farmer understood the various biological organisms that are prevalent in the field and how they cumulatively help the farm to grow. He even decrypted the nuances (messages) of the surrounding atmosphere – the air, the birds that flock, the sun and the clouds. His farm was his passionate laboratory and he was like an illiterate scientist. He used to store 5-6 variants of the best of the seeds for his upcoming cultivation. The seeds have evolved with time based on the geographical conditions of the place. He understood that ‘fertility’ means being rich with life organisms that facilitate the seed/plant to grow healthily in a very organic sense. Gradually, he developed fertilizers that are rich with positive micro lives using materials ranging from dry leaves to waste from the animals. On the same lines he developed pesticides from natural resources within his reach. Thus he acquired all the inputs for his cultivation from the natural resources independent of the ruling (government) or commercial bodies. So, people called him – ‘Mr. Independent Farmer.’
When Business mixes with Politics:
In the course of time, agriculture scientists in the laboratories hit with some results on new methods of cultivation. The Industrialists evinced interest in the commercial aspects of the results and convinced the governments for subsidies and large-scale propaganda. Government readily propagated this new method without studying the long-term effects of it. The system adopted a single model (same set of chemical inputs) for all geographical conditions unlike the traditional agricultural practice. New hybrid seeds were introduced that were not adoptive to different kinds of agricultural bodies. Further, artificially processed fertilizers and pesticides were also introduced.
Our Mr. Independent Farmer got excited about this new system that boasted of doubling the farm’s productivity. He invested money for hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers n pesticides. Based on the advice of the scientists, he dug a bore-well in his farm and eventually bought a new electric motor to pump in water to the field. With these new adoptions, he almost got double the output from his field. The elated farmer propagated this new practice to his co-farmers and they to adopted this model hurriedly. This continued for a few years. His new model depended on external bodies (government and chemical factories) for cultivation. Thus he no longer bore the title ‘Independent’.
As years passed, the ‘Dependent Farmer’ found that the ground water levels have gone down. So, he invested money to increase the depth of his bore-well. He also found that the yield was not as proportional to the amount of the fertilizers n pesticides as was before. It was decreasing. He increased the amount of chemicals to get the same yield. With these, the output seemed to improve for a while. But it found to be a quick fix. After a while the yield deteriorated. He applied the ‘quick fix’ once again. And this repeated. Even the yield lost its original taste, aroma n minerals. It tasted like a processed chemical. Meanwhile new changes crept in his social life. His food habits were changed mimicking the people in town’s n cities.
After a few more years, there came a situation where the Dependent Farmer’s input cost has grown more than value of the output yield. He ran into debts with a hope of clearing his debts in the coming season. But the next season didn’t show any sign of improvement. His frustrated co-farmers committed suicides. Mr. Dependent was moved very much by this. He started analyzing the cause from the basics. To his shock, he found that his mother earth lost her liveliness. The various living microorganisms that helped the crop were no more. The soil almost resembled like a plastic sheet. He further realized that his co-farmers and the next generation of farmers have forgotten the traditional practice of cultivation, which is sustainable. He relented upon his mistake, decided to revive those traditional practices and wanted the make the other farmers aware of this. Thus he established an NGO for restoring the age-old habits of cultivation. This form of cultivation that employs sustainable methods of cultivation with a scientific approach and without using any artificially processed chemicals is known as organic farming. He started educating the farmers in local areas about the immediate importance of organic farming. As he stood for the cause of protecting sustainable practice of farming and the lives of farmers, the people around called him ‘The Protector’. Mr. Protector now calls for the active involvement of youth, scientists and government to create wide-spread awareness among people and to make people practice organic farming.. so that the farmer gets his proud status once again .. so that the people of India does not depend on other countries for food.