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4 lakh ha brought under ‘natural farming’ so far; Niti Aayog lay roadmap to scale it up

4 lakh ha brought under 'natural farming' so far; Niti Aayog lay roadmap to scale it up
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4 lakh hectares brought under ‘natural farming’ so far; Niti Aayog lays a roadmap to scale it up

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Monday that as part of a sub-scheme of the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, about 4 lakh hectares have been brought under natural farming so far, and think-tank Niti Aayog will prepare a roadmap to scale this up.

Tomar, speaking at a national workshop on innovative agriculture here, stated farming that works in harmony with nature, reduces production costs, ensures high-quality produce, and profits to farmers is the need of the hour.

Natural farming is gradually being adopted in Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, parts of Haryana, and Gujarat. He believes that as a result of the success stories, more farmers will join.

Also Read | ‘Natural farming is need of the hour,’ as input cost has risen due to pesticides, fertilizers: NITI Aayog.

After deliberation with farmers, scientists, and vice-chancellors of agri-varsities in the workshop, Tomar said Niti Aayog will prepare a roadmap on natural farming, and the ministry will move forward accordingly.

Other states to follow

He speculated that some might have ‘apprehension that switching to natural farming would result in a decrease in output. Following the success stories of natural farming, such people will be able to easily adapt.’ He went on to say that natural farming should be promoted first in areas where there are few or no chemicals used in farming.

Currently, about 38 lakh hectares have been converted to organic farming, according to the minister. As part of a sub-scheme of the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, about 4 lakh hectares of land have been put under natural farming so far.

In Nicobar and Ladakh, a central program is currently underway to certify farm fields where no chemicals are used. According to him, the center is working with states to identify such farm fields for certification.

He added that the government is working on a mission mode to promote natural farming and may even include it as part of a curriculum in agricultural universities.

Need to shift to natural farming

The minister cited reasons for the need to shift to natural farming, saying that while chemical farming, which was introduced during the Green Revolution in the 1950s, helped to turn a food deficit nation into a surplus, it has had an impact on soil fertility, water, and global warming.

‘Chemical farming has aided in increasing production, but it is not without its drawbacks. Farmers may earn profits, but they are stressed due to increased fertilizer use and water consumption’ Tomar remarked.

Chemical farming has such a negative impact on Punjab farmers that they sell their produce to others but never eat it themselves, he said, emphasizing the need to change the cropping pattern to one that is more in tune with nature.

The minister stated that the government is committed to addressing the challenges facing the farm sector and that alternative farming methods, particularly natural farming, are being encouraged because India needs to sustain agriculture because a large portion of the country’s population is still reliant on farming for a living.

Purushottam Rupala, Union Minister for Fisheries, Dairy, and Animal Husbandry, said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new demand for quality produce has emerged, and farmers must take note of this and grow accordingly.

He praised a suggestion to promote natural farming in areas where no or few chemicals are used, and he emphasized the importance of branding natural farming commodities. Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat shared success stories of natural farming and urged farmers not to be ‘disappointed and perplexed by it.

He claims that while production will drop in the first year of natural farming, costs and water consumption will remain low. This will also aid in the production of higher-quality produce with a higher market value.

Devvrat described how a large farmer in Gujarat transitioned from 5 acres to 50 acres of natural farming, with plans to expand to 400 acres. He also described how a horticulture secretary in the Himachal Pradesh government successfully transitioned to natural farming for apple production.

Climate change, lower crop yields, high water use, and imbalanced use of chemicals and fertilizers are all challenges facing the farm sector, according to Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.

Time for a new revolution

‘It’s time for a new revolution. Natural farming is now more important than ever. It’s because, as a result of the Green Revolution, production costs have risen while water use efficiency has remained stagnant’ he stated.

He went on to say that a social movement is needed to promote natural farming in a scientific way among farmers. According to Niti member Ramesh Chand, chemical farming has posed several challenges since the Green Revolution, and as a result, alternative methods are being considered.

Non-chemical or natural farming, zero-budget farming, or organic farming are some of the terms used to describe the various farming methods that have been tried. He believes that these methods should be synthesized and advanced.

Natural farming should be given a chance, according to Chand, because the time is right to try it. ‘Because the country is not in danger of running out of food,’ he said, ‘we can give this farming method a chance.’

Also Read | Switching to green ammonia would help India reduce fertilizer subsidy burden: Report.

Natural farming should be given a chance, according to Chand, because the time is right to try it. ‘Because the country is not in danger of running out of food,’ he said, ‘we can give this farming method a chance.’

About 6% of the country’s land is chemical-free, and this area could be targeted for natural farming promotion. There are also some districts where chemical use is less than 5 kg, which he believes should be promoted. He added that a road map will be created based on the discussion at the national workshop.