Nagpur: A few days ago, the Union government formed a committee headed by former Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agrawal that will look into natural farming and crop diversification. Prior to this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had advocated for natural farming when addressing farmers at a conclave in Surat.
As the Center refocuses on the issue, Padma Shri award winner Subhash Palekar, who became synonymous with natural farming three years ago, has warned that India will follow Sri Lanka’s lead if the country relied solely on organic farming.
The Surat model calls for having committees at the village level to promote natural agriculture.
Palekar remains critical of other farming methods that can be described as organic or natural. He says the method derived by him, known as Subhash Palekar Krushi (SPK), cannot be similar to any other natural or organic farming system.
Palekar, who is based in Amravati, made headlines in 2019 when Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman mentioned him in the budget speech as she pushed for budget natural farming. zero.
In the three years, the expert says, only the governments of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have organized its training camps for farmers. He has not been approached by the Center for any kind of assistance in promoting the SPK model.
“When Anil Bonde of Amravati took office as Agriculture Minister of Maharashtra, he tried to arrange a meeting with the state government. The meeting did not take place for certain reasons,” he said.
On the current state of affairs, Palekar says there is total confusion about natural farming. He said there can be no such thing as raising cows. At least he doesn’t promote it in his own method, he says.
“In my method, the cow has a role, but it’s limited. A formulation based on cow dung – Jeevamruta – is used to create humus in the soil. Its role ends there. The soil then absorbs the nutrients from the microbes itself. A completely cow-based agriculture is not possible,” he says.
Palekar also attacked organic farming saying it would bring the country the Sri Lankan way. This is because the inputs used in organic farming are too expensive and the yield does not match the cost. Organic farming results in high emission of greenhouse gases causing global warming, he says.
At the same time, natural farming, which does not require the use of any inputs and leaves it purely to nature, is not feasible either, he says. In SPK, some entries are used which distinguish it from other theories, says Palekar. Inputs are needed to rejuvenate the soil weakened by the green revolution.
VM Bhale, Vice Chancellor of Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyalaya, said Palekar was invited to the university to demonstrate his method but did not show up. On this subject, Palekar says he has not received any official letter.
“Although the university promotes organic farming, it essentially advocates an integrated approach. Organic farming can give optimum yield, but not maximum. For farmers to benefit, there must be a high yield where an integrated approach using a mixture of the two techniques can be helpful,” Bhale said.