Restoring Soul of the Soil

We have inherited healthy soil from our ancestors for thousands of years. But the modern farm techniques, borrowed from the West, have turned a major part of our soil infertile. Farmers, agriculture scientists and policymakers came together in Hyderabad to devise a strategy for promoting sustainable farming

 

We in Bharat, since the time immemorial, revere land as mother and serve her as sons of the soil. In return, she fulfills all our basic needs—food, clothing, shelter, etc. In fact, our prosperity in the past was rooted in this holistic approach towards the nature, which is perfectly expressed as Mata Bhumi Putro Aham Pruthivyah. In general, this has been our vision and the prime elements of the Bharatiya economy including farming, animal husbandry and trade developed with the same vision. We believe, and also practically follow, the sustainable agriculture, which involves qualitative and quantitative management of the natural resources—water, soil, animals, microbes, trees, etc. in a way that farm productivity is maintained without harming the resources.

 

 

 

 

But during the last six decades, particularly, after the Green Revolution, we gradually distanced from this holistic approach and our natural sustainable agriculture was replaced with the modern agriculture typically characterised by exploitation of the natural resources. The modern agriculture practices only offered a short term solution. In the longer term, its adverse effects have outweighed its positive effects. Farmers all over India have noticed that continuous application of the modern agricultural practices have given rise to numerous environmental problems like pollution of soil, water and air. At this juncture, it is not sufficient to be aware of the problems of agriculture in general and soil in particular, we need to be determined to find solutions and bring them into reality. Keeping in view the burgeoning challenges before the Indian agriculture sector it is necessary to revisit the age old Bharatiya holistic approach and revitalise those traditional methods.

 

In order to initiate serious efforts in this regard and also to bring the farmers, agriculture scientists, students, researchers, voluntary organisations and the policymakers at one platform, a national conference “Bhoomi Suposhan: Concepts and Practices; Enriching Soils for Sustainable Agriculture” was held at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad from March 24 to 25, 2018 jointly by Eklavya Foundation, Hyderabad, Akshay Krishi Pariwar and CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad. A total of 250 agriculture and farm experts including scientists and policymakers participated in the Conference.

 

The prime objective of the Conference was to understand current status of the soil health and land use pattern in Bharat, sharing experiences related to Bhoomi Suposhan based on Indian thinking, sharing experiences related to soil health management as per the modern agriculture practices and technologies and developing target specific information, education and communication material related to Bhoomi Suposhan for various stakeholders in agriculture. Prior to the organisation of this workshop the Akshay Krishi Pariwar conducted a series of workshops involving farmers at various parts of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Hyderabad and Delhi and documented their successful Bhoomi Suposhan experiments.

 

Addressing the conference at inaugural session on March 24, RSS Sahsarkaryavah Shri V Bhagaiah described the initiative as a significant step towards restoring health of the soil. He said the process of policy formation must be initiated, looked upon, evaluated and restructured by the people and for the people involving all the stakeholders. Union Minister of State for Agriculture Shri Gajendra Shekhawat congratulated the organisers for initiating discussion over the most important resource—the soil, which is backbone of the food security mission. He said the country has glorious history of sustainable agriculture and we must update our farmers with those healthy practices and knowledge sharing mechanism.

 

Some farmers shared the practices being followed by them for Bhoomi Suposhan in their respective areas and also the effects of those steps. They said the direct application of cow dung and urine in the form of biogas slurry is the best nutrition to the soil. To make it further effective they use the dung and urine of indigenous cows along with jaggery, gram flour, lime, farm waste, compost manure, vermi compost, etc. The farmers also mentioned the usefulness of the preparations from desi cow including Jeevamrut, Ghan Jeevamrut, Samadhi Khad, etc. Similarly, they emphasised on mulching, multi cropping, crop rotation and plantation of trees on the farm bunds as vital processes for Bhoomi Suposhan.

 

The farmers also pointed out that the indigenous practices of Bhoomi Suposhan have changed their soil from compact hardy to soft porous and the water holding capacity of the soil has also improved substantially. The soil has also regained its natural colour. They pointed out that initially the yield decreased, but it picked up gradually as the soil health improved. The taste of the produce and its aroma was restored. Another benefit of these practices is that the number of desi cows on the farm has increased and the cow dung and cow urine are in huge demand.

 

Union Minister of Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan at concluding session said the health of human beings is closely associated with the healthy soil that leads to production of healthy food. We inherited the agricultural lands for the last few thousands of years without any degradation of the soil. However, for the last few decades, the soil ‘degradation’ is taking place persistently. If the degradation is not arrested through Bhoomi Suposhan techniques, the present generations would be doing great injustice to the future generations, which is highly immoral and unacceptable. He emphasised that we have to create a mechanism and scientific framework to check and evaluate the experiments carried out at the grass roots level by the farmers for Bhoomi Suposhan.

 

The Conference and the deliberations in various sessions stressed on a nationwide campaign to create awareness on Bhoomi Suposhan and to exhort the people to have pride in our rich agricultural heritage. Documentation of Bhoomi Suposhan experiments and techniques developed by some farmers all over the country should be done. The innovative farmers should be connected with the Krishi Vigyan Kendras of their respective districts. Bhoomi Suposhan is a holistic concept. Hence the health of the soil should be maintained along with the Soil Health Card. A National Mission ‘Feed soil to Feed Nation’ was also required to be launched.