Eating Right? Are You Sure?

The farmers in Madhya Pradesh make a switch to make sure that you eat right.

A much-hyped issue in India is revolving around food – the modifications in it, the injecting of the plants, the organic, and the chemically-grown. The perplexing debate around food requires the expansion of your knowledge about the food you feed your family and loved ones.

Three years ago, Swadesh Chowdhary, a BSc graduate and young family-man from the district of Betul in Madhya Pradesh, was an educated but helpless farmer. “I had actually spoiled the land with the use of chemicals! It was in 2010 that I was introduced to natural farming,” he shared, further adding, “Initially, I began with two acres on a bad soil patch, but today my entire 30 acres is under the healthy influence and protection of natural farming.”

Commitment: From Paper to Field!

While undergoing the Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF is a course for farmers on techniques of natural farming that incurs minimal to no expense) course, Swadesh visited multiple model farms of natural farming in Maharashtra. “I was so impressed with the results there. I thought to myself that natural farming is so easy and inexpensive. In the next few days, I visited more model farms in Maharashtra; the farmers there shared really heart-touching success stories of natural farming. The visit left no doubts in my mind,” he says.

Swadesh had made a commitment on a piece of paper to experiment on two acres, but when the fertilizing stage came during the next season, he was reluctant. Later, in a reminder call, he was asked if he wished to keep his commitment. This was a call for him to make a vital switch.

“In the first year, around 12 quintal was the output of wheat. In the second year, the output was increased by two quintals. I consulted with Dr. Keshav Vyas for guidance. I now practice 30 acres of natural farming in my farm; that is, my entire land,” he shares.

Farmers Hail ZBNF

Usually, the chemical companies visit farmers with various products. “Such companies make us experiment different chemicals, leaving us confused and our farms miserable. It broke us apart,” Swadesh states.

Pointing out the difference in ZBNF, Swadesh says that the interactive sessions in the course were really helpful and promising results shared by other farmers were sufficient to strengthen the trust and faith in natural farming.

“When I had sowed soya bean, 6 quintals was the produce; but then I found out that the entire money earned from it would be spent on the chemicals again, unlike in natural farming. The name of the course is absolutely justified—Zero-Budget Farming,” Swadesh shares.

Sugarcane went sour...

Of the wide variety of chemicals used in farming,one is Thyme,which is used in sugarcane. Its usage in Swadesh’s farm would lead to squirrels, snakes, birds,and insects dying. He says this was the compelling factor for him to discard chemical farming. The food that even animals cannot process is unfortunately consumed in our society on a large scale.

The expense for one acre in natural farming is no more than Rs. 300*. Using chemicals, it is Rs. 2000 per acre. Swadesh adds that it is because the manure and the fertilizers are all created by the resources available at home; also, “due to the concept of intercropping*, I gain back twice the investment.”

He Chose His Future...

Swadesh is proud of his land and the soft soil. It can be dug easily with hands and one can even find earthworms, much needed for soil.

“In my experience, it is a big loss to practice chemical farming. Just take oil for that matter. There are two types of oils - refined and filter. Refined is consumed by the majority of Indians and it is made of chemicals! The farmers have to understand the damage that chemicals do to the soil, its active bacteria for nourishment of the crops, health and the environment, and its manifold loss,” shrugs Swadesh.

Can You Switch?

Swadesh attributes his courage to switch, his positivity for the future, and hope to his practice of Sudarshan Kriya. “The enthusiasm is maintained forever in spite of problems,” he says, reminding us once again that naturally grown food and natural farming are both conducive to nurturing humanity in a healthier way!

The chemicals, however, in the times of inflation, even under schemes are expensive. It is unaffordable for the already drowned farmers. “We just require the right guidance. ZBNF is a boon and a good response is expected from the market. The volunteers and teachers of the organization have really been a blessing for me as well the consumers of my produce,” says Swadesh, who sends his grains to many unknown households.

*300 - The cost is minimum to 300 and can go up to 500 only.
*Inter-cropping - In farming, some plants need nitrogen from atmosphere. Whereas, some plants release nitrogen. Farmers grow these combination

Written by Monica Patel
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