Natural Farming In India — Andhra Experiment Holds Key Answers

Natural farming in India received a major boost, both in terms of yield and cost-effectiveness, following a successful experiment in Andhra Pradesh.

Natural farming in India: An eye-opening experiment

Ratna and Nadim Siraj

January 21, 2024: Natural farming cannot feed the world. Natural farming hampers crop production. Farmers should be encouraged to use chemical fertilisers to increase crop yield. They need to use chemical pesticides. This is the standard narrative routinely dished out about natural farming in India – a country that historically has agriculture in its DNA. A narrative that’s manufactured and manipulated.

The truth is, poisonous pesticides and exorbitant fertilisers were introduced to farmers not as real solutions. They were introduced by foreign and domestic agribusiness companies who had been looking to make money at the cost of disrupting centuries-old agricultural practices. They cunningly sold the idea that farmers and farming cannot survive without chemical fertilisers and pesticides. That going chemical is the only farming solution.

Well, these are fake solutions given to the farmers. People like Bill Gates, who demonise natural farming by misusing their strong media presence, are literally threats to human civilisation. In this report, we bring you a field study from the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

It shows that ditching chemical farming and switching to natural farming in India can push up crop production by 11%. And natural farming – or organic farming, as it is nowadays called globally – can give Indian farmers higher crop yield at surprisingly lower costs.    

The field study from Andhra Pradesh has proved that artificial farming, which relies on chemical inputs and involves hefty profits for their sellers, is only a hype. It’s a hype created by the agribusiness industry through its influence over the media, academia, and other sources of information. It’s a hype that ensures the constant sale of costly fertilisers and pesticides.

Natural farming in India: Andhra shows the way

The study is called Natural Farming Through a Wide-Angle Lens: True Cost Accounting Study of Community Managed Natural Farming. It was done by GIST Impact in collaboration with Global Alliance for the Future of Food. It investigated and found the untold benefits of natural farming in India on the basis of the success story in Andhra Pradesh.

This field study has proved that natural farming in India can help save the struggling farmer; not fancy technology and chemical inputs. Picture this: paddy, maize, and millets dancing to a natural tune, outshining their synthetic counterparts. And your wallet will thank you, too – ensuring a hefty 49% income-boost for farmers who decide to take the natural route.

It sounds incredible; in fact, almost impossible. Well, that’s because agribusiness companies have successfully hyped up the power of chemical farming through catchy and misleading ads.

Basically, compromised politicians planted by agribusiness companies promote chemical farming and run down natural farming in India. The mainstream media, too, has extensively and repeatedly propagated chemical farming while blaming rural economic miseries on natural farming in India. On television, there is no discussion about the benefits of organic farming as a solution to a rising health crisis.

But this real-world experiment in Andhra Pradesh has given the chemical cartel a reality-check. No synthetic fertilisers, no pesticides – just good old handmade manure and a sprinkle of wisdom. Community-based natural farming clearly proves that chemical-free farmland can outshine the chemical circus.

In Andhra Pradesh, the soil spoke louder than words. As part of the two-year study, farmers harvested four crops. They managed a 11% higher production of prime crops, such as rice, maize, millets, finger millets, and red gram.

Thumbs-up for natural farming in India

Here is what the study tells us in the context of natural farming in India. Organic farmers grew more crops – an average of 4.51 compared to 2.16 in low-input tribal farming. Also, they managed to slash input costs by 44%. Say goodbye to expensive fertilisers and pesticides, and say hello to a more diverse and resilient crop family.

Yes, organic farmers saw a 44% reduction in input costs, such as fertilisers and pesticides, compared to high-input farms across three regions of Andhra Pradesh. They also saw an average production increase from 7.8% to 25.9% in some cases. Overall, community-based natural farming adoption boosted gross income per hectare across all three regions.

Andhra Pradesh isn’t just growing crops; it’s nurturing a revolution that paves the way for a return to natural farming in India. Sixty lakh farmers, 60 lakh hectares, and five crore satisfied consumers – that’s the impact of community-based natural farming. It’s not just about the fields; it’s about livelihoods, biodiversity, and the overall health of the community.

The roots of community-managed natural farming in Andhra Pradesh lie in a social movement. It was started by farmers who faced increasing debts after they shifted to high-input chemical farming during the 1960s Green Revolution. Farmers, who were caught in a debt trap, shifted to agroecology-based farming, known as zero-budget natural farming or ZBNF, which promised remarkably lower cost input.

Andhra Pradesh isn’t standing alone in this natural farming revolution. Zoom out and you’ll see this isn’t just an Andhra thing. From Mexico to Brazil, America to New Zealand, natural farming is making waves. It’s not a gamble or an experiment; it’s a sustainable shift towards a healthier food and a healthier planet. It’s a return to our roots. It’s because that’s how human civilisation began in the first place – as an agriculture-focused species.

Escalating farmer suicides

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room – the skyrocketing suicide rates among Indian farmers. The burden of loans resulting from costly chemical farming is the root cause of the unending and underreported epidemic of farmer suicides in the country. It’s time for a reality-check. Fertiliser-use has surged, but so have the challenges.

In 2021 alone, over 11,000 Indian farmers killed themselves. It’s time to rethink this manufactured chemical romance. As we bask in the glow of a natural farming revolution, let’s not forget our responsibility. It’s not just up to the farmers to make the switch; it’s up to the policymakers and the public, too. With over 12,000 farmers taking their own lives annually, it’s not a statistic; it’s a wake-up call.

These days, you hear a lot about chemical fertilisers and pesticides in our vegetables and grains. There is also a constant push for genetically modified (GM) mustard and other food crops. Advertisements about lab meat (read: fake meat) are extensive. Lab food is being endorsed by many Indian celebrities and Bollywood stars.

Agribusiness companies have successfully brainwashed the urban population and changed the meaning of healthy food. Farmers, too, are duped by ads showing chemical fertilisers and toxic pesticides as solutions to farming problems. They’re forgetting the good old saying: Don’t fix what ain’t broken.

So, there you have it – natural farming in India is not an imagined utopia. It’s a practical solution to the current decline of farming culture in India and the world. Higher yields and lower costs are together a lifeline for our struggling farmers. It’s not just a trend against the tide; it’s a food revolution.

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