The Journey

Courage, Faith and Organic Farming Maketh a Rich Indian Farmer

courage-faith-and-organic-farming-maketh-a-rich-indian-farmer

‘A Rich Indian farmer’, unfortunately, still seems to be an oxymoron! Over a few interactions with farmers in the country and some exceptional contributors to the practice of organic farming, I have come across inspiring examples who reinforce my own belief—that organic agriculture can lead to a farmer’s prosperity.

I found that courage and faith were the three common virtues among these farmer stories. They have helped farmers in fighting their woes.

Courage

 An ill-perceived high production cost, long transition period and low yield have limited many farmers from adopting organic farming. Any commoner would look for validation before committing to a financial decision that could potentially put your livelihood and family at risk. The aforementioned factors are seemingly not promising for farmers to adopt organic farming as a full-time occupation.

Yet, some farmers have garnered the courage to explore the unknown lands and reaped benefits.

A farmer couple Shankar and Roopa harvested a rich yield of okra crop – all 15 varieties are of Indian origin – on their half acre plot in Hittnehebbagilu village in Periyapatna taluk.

Gurbinder Singh (45) of Sarchur village left his job to pursue the dream of an agriculturist. He began as a marginalized organic farmer and went on to float a farming cooperative group to pass on the knowledge about organic farming that made him successful.

Farmers who want to tread on an unconventional path have some encouraging news from two scientists based in USA. These researchers revealed through their meta analysis across agricultural lands in 14 countries that, consumers are ready to pay 22 to 35% more for organic produce.

Faith

Organic farming is not new. Organic farming uses methodologies which are indigenous. Some farmers use farming tips passed on through generations. Some of the farmers who I came across have portrayed such conviction which reaffirmed my own beliefs about organic.

Giddaiya, a local farmer at Yerrlagunta cultivates tomatoes, red gram and pearl millet using natural farming and has seen a cost reduction of 60% from his last yield.

Pendanath, a Kerala farmer who farms 30 different food and cash crops on 3 acres shared with ET that “When a farmer doesn’t choke the soil, it will give yields like you’ve never seen. And when the consumer pays me the price that can sustain this kind of farming, I can do more of this.”

“I have always been passionate about rural livelihoods,” said Abhhinandan Dhakal, a Sikkim based organic farmer who invested INR 3.4 million ($50,959) for over four years to grow Peruvian ground apple, or yacon, a crisp, sweet-tasting tuber and reaped profits by exporting his yields.

Another Indian farmer who was about to abandon his ancestral land for the promise of few bucks in the city, tried his luck with organic farming. His failure with conventional farming brought him into massive debts. Now, with organic farming he has earned over Rs.1,00,000 over a half acre with just 6% of it spent as expenditure.

Organic farming, a Rich Indian Farmer’s Way

2 million of the world’s 1.5 billion farmers are now producing organically, with nearly 80 percent of them from developing countries. India boasts the most certified organic producers.

APEDA had reported encouraging results about the increase in organic farm produce by 38% in 2016-17. This trend is likely to continue for the upcoming organic farming adopters. The other good news is that the number of organic food categories has grown to more than 200 types, allowing both food and cash crop cultivators to try organic farming.

Farmers who have shown strong commitment in driving the organic way of farming have seen positive results. Hence, organic farming can not just help in solving farmer woes, but also do a lot more!

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Raj Seelam

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