New farming techniques relevant to India
Tradition never dies, it can only get strong with time. For those of you who know me, might find this repetitive, but honestly, that is what I believe in. To encourage organic farming techniques, over the years, we have borrowed some techniques from hinterlands of neighbouring countries while some are from the very own nooks of India.
There is not one, but many innovations taking birth in the agricultural sector and some of them have been milestones in the evolution of organic farming. While some are close to my heart as an organic farming advocate, there are few others that deserve celebration.
Over the years that I have seen, these innovations have enabled agriculture and organic farming techniques on the whole, in India. The ones that I am going to share with you here have created a sustainable framework for farmers to thrive in Indian agriculture and restore the efficacy of organic farming. Some of them have also inspired me personally.
Some new farming techniques that you should know before eating
It was exciting to partner with farmers to implement non-intrusive and non-abrasive farming methods, all through the Sikkim endeavour of turning the state into a GMO-free state and even later.
Spider webs are often emancipated at domestic scenarios, but these creepy nets have actually protected Yavender Singh’s cotton farms from whiteflies. In 2015, many Punjab farmers committed suicide due to loss of crop by whitefly infestation, despite heavy use of pesticides. On the contrary adjacent farms owned by Yavender Singh yielded the cotton crop with the use of spider webs that act as predators of whiteflies. That year, pesticides worth Rs.150 crore failed to save Punjab from the loss of cotton crop worth Rs.4,200 crore, due to whiteflies.
Combined crop cultivation saw a surge of papaya plantation in the Hubli-Dharwad corridor. This was combined with other cash crops like cotton, chilli and maize to add immunity to the crop against the adversities of poor rainfall. Sporadic rainfalls experienced by this area affects the final income earned by the farmer. With papaya cultivation, the farmers earned an extra income, though they faced loss due to the primary crop.
Fly-pest sticky sheet is another very novel instrument that keeps fly pests away from the crop. Fly pests naturally tread towards the crop and cannot be stopped from swarming. But here are bright yellow, and blue sticky sheets that have managed to trap 19 high-risk pests from long distance using the concept of wavelengths. These cards range of wavelengths between 500 nm to 600 nm that attract fly pests before they infest the crop.
Biochar mixed with different organic nutrients forges to become a soil additive that keeps the fertility intact over multiple crops. This not only preserves topsoil strength, but also increases crop productivity.
One of the post-harvest techniques that have always kept the faith in my first statement about traditions strengthening farming is this one. It is about how farmers can still achieve to store their grain yield naturally and guard it against rain, rot and rodents. These natural cribs made of rotten skeleton and clay which are widely used in Africa, Sri Lanka and also the local region of Krishna district.
These techniques are constant improvisations over time and I get to see something new almost every day. It is not just about pest and rainfall management, but also about price and information management that can ease out a farmer’s life and enable him to commit to organic farming methods. India is also seeing technological innovations in areas like machinery, information distribution, knowledge transfer that are enabling farmers to adopt sustainable farming methods.