Perturbed over high input costs, farmers in Punjab are taking to natural farming methods for better financial returns which promise better yields and minimal costs. Above all, they are getting 70-80% more premium for their produce compared to chemical farming.
Natural farming involves shunning the use of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides from the market. Instead, homemade potions are used which keep the soil pest-free. Also practices like mixed cropping and mulching help maintain its nutrient balance and bring down water consumption by 40%.
It is worth mentioning that Punjab is the biggest user of pesticides and fertilizers in the country. According to agriculture scientist, the excessive use led to ecologically degradation of soil, raising the cost of farming.
Speaking to Business Standard, Angrej Singh, a farmer from Muktsar,” As we know, the excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers has not only affected the health of the citizens but also the soil. Perturbed over the situation took to natural farming in 2006. Initially, there were not many takers but negligible input costs and better returns has prompted many of the farmers not in our district but in the state to take natural farming. Even many of the farmers are diverting from organic farming which is costly proposition to natural farming.”
According to Singh, natural farming has caught fancy of many of the farmers in districts like Muktsar, Faridkot, Bathinda and Ferozepur. Around to insiders, over 1000 farmers in Punjab have already taken to natural farming and many others are getting drawn to it due to its low cost and high returns. With this, farmers not only get a better yield at cheaper rates, they get much higher prices for their crop.
Angrej Singh has joined hands with 35 farmers in his own district and doing natural farming over 70 acres. He has also floated a cooperative called Punjab village Food & Cooperaive Soceity to market the natural products produced by these farmers.Currently these farmers are growing wheat, rice, vegetables, green gram, mustard, basmati rice, pulses, jaggery, Bajra through natural methods and market it to nearby cities. The farm inputs are biogas slurry, farmyard manure, vermi compost, etc.
Jaswinder Singh another farmers from Bathinda said, “The farmers are not only getting better returns but they have also came have come out of debt traps and cut down expenditure by 70-80%. The increased yield and disease resistant crops was attracting others to natural farming.” He added that taking to natural farming has enabled farmers to keep the soil pest-free.
Jaswinder added that the beauty of natural farming is that it does not require certification of the farm and neither buying costly inputs from multinationals. In order to popularize the natural farming in the state, NGO like The Kheti Virasat Mission is also educating the farmers to take to natural farming besides working on modalities to market naturally farmed produce.