An unusual passion for natural farming promises to turn around the lives of farmers

“I wish no Indian household had to eat poison and urea. It is a heinous crime to play with human life,” says Yogita Sharan Singh. She is an MA in Economics, a journalist-turned-editor of a newspaper in Bhopal, India. A young blood from the state of Chattisgarh, Yogita stumbled upon a natural farming booklet. Driven by interest, she did immense research, followed by an experiment in her terrace garden. “The experiment was successful. I felt an intense need to take responsibility. My interest dwells in uplifting the farmers of India,” says Yogita, who belongs to a family of royal lineage.

Yogita found her calling in natural farming. It was 2010 when she came across the Sri Sri Natural Farming program. It is a program for farmers on techniques of natural farming that involve minimal to no expense.

She wanted to offer solace to farmers. “I initiated the inclusion of the life-changing Sudarshan Kriya (a breathing technique taught at The Art of Living programs) in the Sri Sri Natural Farming program. It is important for farmers to reduce their stress and worries and simultaneously gain confidence, strength, and clarity to adopt this new way of living.”

“The farmers have gone through such hardships and had lost hope in farming. The Sudarshan Kriya revived their enthusiasm and zeal towards life, towards farming,” she shares.

What is Natural Farming?

It’s a chemical-free, pesticide-free way of yielding organic crops which involves:

  • Optimization of natural resources to enhance the fertility of the soil, ensure the health of the crops. For instance, ensuring earthworms are present in abundance to enrich the soil.

  • Optimizing water resource through rainwater harvesting.

The more one sources the resources locally , that much more is the benefit as it would maintain a low cost- methodology. 

Why natural farming

The agriculture sector faced immense losses after several farmers committed suicides; even the young generation of the traditional farming families was opting to leave their villages to look for better jobs in big cities. So, initially, it became difficult for the team to gather the momentum.

“Natural farming has minimal expenses. The program itself is convincing for the farmers. Right at the outset, the farmers agreed that they were disinterested in undertaking any sort of chemical farming, and that they were hopeless with no other option,” she says.

The Sri Sri Natural Farming program is designed especially for the farmers to learn new natural farming technology system. All that is required for farming is the land, seeds and natural resources.

Towards healthy living

Our tech savvy NextGen can be put to shame with one look at our healthy grandparents. Neither do we have strong bones anymore nor high tolerance levels for pain. Our bodies have become so dependent on medication that it is easier to believe immunity is a commodity available in the market and not something that can be built up.

This difference is attributed to disowning the natural farming method that was prevalent in ancient India  and consuming chemical-laden food, right from vegetables and fruits to the canned or packaged food or the always ready-to-eat stuff. Not to forget the fast-paced lifestyle we lead.

Yogita hopes to change all this. “My vision is an India where food is reasonably priced and grown without the use of any poison. Also, I want city residents to learn about the most primary of occupations—that which gives us our food—farming. It has to be balanced and the benefits have to be shared equally between both villagers as well as  city residents. Presently, farmers do not get their dues. People in big cities should be aware of these things and they should know what they are eating.”

Yogita thinks that with rising awareness, this transformation will be the next big thing. The aim of propagating this knowledge is not to come out with high-cost food for the masses of the country. She says, “This is an era of ever-rising inflation; we cannot afford to feed rice at unreasonable prices.”

Determination wins  

Yogita spearheads the arrangement of programs for farmers and activities to spread awareness among the masses of cities and villages alike. “They (farmers) have lost their path, but I am here with my team and my inspiration, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, to revive our long-lost golden era of farming. Within two years, my interest has made me a strong volunteer who can deal with any situation. Jitne shabd bolungi, utne pure karungi (I will fulfill all I say),” she signs off.

Growing Numbers

  • Betul, Guna, Devas, Bemetara, Damoh, Indore, Suhagpur, and Bhopal are the seven places they covered. Over 1,000 farmers underwent the program, out of which more than 650 are actively practicing the new technique.

  • In barely a year, 10 Sri Sri Natural Farming programs were conducted in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.


Story Credit: Monica Patel

Published on: September 12, 2013