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Sunday, May 6, 2018

IIT-Madras prof shares his idea of zero investment organic farming in India - INDIA TODAY

COULD THIS HELP PREVENT FARMER SUICIDES IN INDIA??????


Professor Kamakoti Veezhinathan from IIT-Madrass shares his idea of zero investment organic farming in India

In 1960s, during the period of green revolution, farmers in India were exposed to high yield variety of seeds (HYV), pesticides and fertilizers in order to maintain the food security in the country.

Although the rising demand for food was met, soil fertility was degraded to an extent that farmlands turned completely barren.

Despite that, the continuous and large usage of pesticides till date for meeting the high demand for food has led to another practice of spraying vegetables and fruits with chemicals for quick and unnatural growth.

However, people have slowly started to understand the ill effects of such fruits, vegetables and grains on the body. People are turning towards organic products.

Since the organic products market is at a nascent stage right now in India, people have a lot of questions regarding it.
To get answers to many such queries and to know more about organic farming, India Today Education went all the way to IIT-Madras for an exclusive chat with Professor Kamakoti Veezhinathan who is growing 55 variety of traditional rice in his very own organic farm in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu.

THE DAMAGE REGULAR FOOD HAS DONE TO OUR COUNTRY

Prof Kamakoti Veezhinathan, IIT-M, said that people refrain themselves from growing and consuming organic food because it is expensive. "Organic food is 1.5 to 2 times costlier than the regular food, and the price of organic food is high because the yield is low."

Demand for organic food is rising in India (Representational picture)

If we learn about the damage caused by regular food to our intestines, we would stop eating it at all. If you switch to organic, you will consume less quantity of food but you will feel more energetic, claims Prof Veezhinathan.

Prior to the use of fertilisers, Indian soil was an epitome of fertility. However, these hazardous chemicals have done so much damage to the soil that it has lost its nutritional balance as well as the capacity to produce better food. In order to covert a farmland from regular products to organics, one has to wait for at least one or two years for the soil to settle, from the third year you can start the cultivation and reap profits by the fifth year," he says.

At least 99 pesticides should have been banned in India: Supreme Court

Pesticides are not only hazardous to the soil but also heavy on the pockets of the farmers, which apparently became one of the many reasons for suicides in India.

From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the whole country is facing the repercussions pesticides.

Due to the overuse of pesticides in the field, people living close to the farmland are becoming prone to cancer. In a state like Punjab, which is known as the breadbasket of India was recorded with 130 cancer patients per 100,000 people - in line with the national average of 137 as per the survey conducted by the state government in 2010. In fact, a number of cancer patients are rising high, and, now, the state has a separate train for cancer patients who travel to Bikaner for specialist treatment.

"The basic motivation of organic farming came when I had two early deaths in my family. Two of my very close cousins died because of cancer despite the fact that they were completely teetotallers, they had no bad habits. The only thing that we could trace was pesticides, which they could have consumed in their food," says Prof Veezhinathan.

In a world of chemicals, it is a herculean task to bring a pure bowl of rice to your dinner table.

Prof Veezhinathan has created a canal boundary around his farm, disjointing it from the adjacent farms whose soil is filled with chemicals and pesticides.

Moreover, he has also fenced his farm with a layer of trees. "I have planted a couple of trees creating a boundary of two to three feet around my farm with teak trees and other variety of trees so as to avoid the effect of pesticides on my crop," he adds.

START YOUR OWN ORGANIC FARM

The Government of India is supporting organic farming. There are several schemes and subsidies favouring organic farming.
With organic farming, the farmer need not have to bear the burden of expensive chemicals on their pockets.

                           Representational picture

"If you have two cows, you can handle six-10 acres of the farm. If you have one cow, then you can handle five acres of land, no manure is needed. All you need is seeds and if you are healthy enough to do transplantation and harvesting, you can start your farm right away. If you are not physically capable to handle the entire farm yourself, then five or 10 farmers can come together to form a group. This way we can do zero cost farming," he says.

PROF VEEZHINATHAN SHARES HIS INNOVATIVE ZERO INVESTMENT FARMING PLAN

Prof Veezhinathan motivates the entire country to produce chemical-free crop.

Here's how you can start your own organic farm:
The first step is to get a land. So, I took some 6.5 acres of my land and then we fenced it.

Secondly, you need to start using the organic manure. The main ingredients for preparing the manure are cow dung, cow urine, goat dung, and green manure. I used traditional manures in my field 'Panchagavya' constituting cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd, ghee and 'agniastra' which is made by chilli.

Thirdly, put the green manure in your field, which is available at a throwaway price in the market. Then allow four-five goats to roam in your field for two or three days, for their excreta is a good manure.

Fourthly, it is time now for the seedling after which you are free to do the transplantation.

Fifth and the foremost step is water management, you can manage water motors with solar energy. I have a solar cell panel in my field with which I pump water from 90 feet deep bore well. The interesting fact about using solar energy in a farm is that you can avoid salts and other harmful chemicals coming to your field from the adjacent farms because the speed of the water is so low. However, generally, farmers, who use high-speed motors fetch salts along with water.

Also, you are able to maintain the water table, for instance, if your pipe sucks a bucket of water from wells at a very low speed, then the wells will refill the void in the meantime you suck another portion of water.

I have also channelized my field with different pipes. If field 'one' requires water, I open the motor of that particular field instead of letting the water cross through all other fields. In this manner, I conserve water.


                Paddy field (Representational picture)

ORGANIC BOWL OF RICE FROM THANJAVUR

Shunning the myths and false notions regarding the fragility of organic farming, Prof Veezhinathan shares his stories showing the endurance level of an organic crop.


PEST
There was a sudden bust of disease in Thanjavur, fields were full of Brown plant leafhopper (pogayan). While the entire paddy in which fertilizers were used fell off, not even one small infection affected my farm.

RAIN
The second shocking fact I came across regarding the organic farming was that it was able to withstand the rain water for four days in a strech, while the normal harvest in the adjacent farms fell off, despite keeping a cover of chemicals.


BIRDS
Thirdly, since the time I started growing an organic crop in my area birds come often to our fields. I remember, one fine morning, when I was crossing the farm, my field was all green though it was the time for it to turn yellow. When I came closer and clapped, around one thousand parrots flew off and it was a breathtaking scene. While the adjacent farms had not even a single parrot. This shows birds have a taste for organic food and they will only add to your farm.