On the occasion of 75th year of independence, the country has started working on various such goals, which will become the basis for major changes in the times to come. During the ‘Amritkaal’, the foundation of progress of the country is that spirit of everyone’s effort which is leading our development journey. The leadership of every work that is being done, especially for the poor and the farmers, has also been given to the countrymen and village panchayats. I am closely watching this mission of natural farming in Gujarat. And looking at its progress makes me really happy. Particularly the farmer brothers and sisters have adopted and embraced this idea from the bottom of their hearts. Nothing could be better than this. Gram Samitis, Taluka Samitis and Zilla samitis were formed to select 75 farmers from each village panchayat in Surat. Teams were formed at the village level; team leaders were made and nodal officers were given responsibility at the taluka. I am told that regular training programmes and workshops were also organized during this period. And today, in such a short span of time more than 40,000 farmers from over 550 panchayats have joined natural farming. That is, such a big work has been done in a small area! This is an encouraging start and it instils a sense of confidence in the heart of every farmer. In the coming times, farmers of the whole country will know, understand and learn a lot from your efforts and experiences. This model of natural farming originating from Surat can also become a model for the whole of India.
Brothers & Sisters,
When the countrymen themselves become determined to achieve a goal, then there is neither any hindrance in achieving that goal, nor do we ever feel exhausted. When any big or strenuous work is done with the power of public participation, then its success is ensured by the people of the country themselves. Jal Jeevan Mission is an example of that. The responsibility of such a huge mission of providing clean water to every village is being handled by the people of the villages and water committees formed in the villages of the country. The credit of the success of a massive campaign like Swachh Bharat, which is being praised by all the global organizations today, goes to our villages. Similarly, the phenomenal success of Digital India Mission is also the country’s befitting reply to those who used to say that bringing a change in the village is not easy. Earlier people used to think that the village life would remain the same. They had assumed that there could be no change in the village. Our villages have shown that villages can not only bring about a transformation, but can also be leaders in that process of transformation. This mass movement of the country in terms of natural farming will also be a massive success in the coming years. The sooner the farmers become a part of this change, the higher they will reach in terms of success.
Our agricultural system is the backbone of our life, health, and society. It is said, “Jaisa Ann, Waisa Mann” (What you eat is how you think). India has been an agriculture based country by nature and culture. Therefore, as our farmer progresses, as our agriculture progresses and prospers, so will our country. Through this event, I want to remind the farmers of the country one more thing. Natural farming is not just a means of economic success, but more importantly, a great medium of service to our mother earth. The earth is our mother and we worship her every day. We wake up in the morning and apologize to mother earth. These are our values. When you engage in natural farming, you collect the necessary resources for farming from agriculture and its related products. You prepare ‘Jivamrut’ and ‘Ghan Jeevamrut’ (fertilizers) from cows and livestock. This reduces the cost of farming. At the same time, livestock also opens up additional sources of income. The income from these livestock increases. Similarly, when you engage in natural farming, you are serving Mother Earth, protecting the quality of the soil, the health of the land and its productivity. When you engage in natural farming, you are also serving nature and the environment. You get the opportunity of serving Mother cow and the blessings for serving a living being. I was told that in Surat, 40-45 gaushalas would be entrusted with the responsibility of producing cow ‘Jivamrut’ by entering into a contract with them. Just imagine the number of cows that will be served by this. Besides, the food produced by natural farming, which feeds crores of people, will also protect them from deadly diseases caused by pesticides and chemicals. This is going to benefit crores of people in terms of good health. And here we have accepted the direct relation of health with diet. Your health depends on the type of diet you consume.
A healthy life also gives us countless opportunities to engage in service and virtuous activities. Therefore, natural farming not only opens up the way to individual prosperity, but also embodies this spirit of ‘सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः, सर्वे सन्तु निरामयः’
Today the whole world is talking about ‘Sustainable Lifestyle’ and hygienic food habits. This is a field in which India has thousands of years of knowledge and experience. We have led the world in this direction for centuries. Therefore, today we have an opportunity to lead the campaigns like natural farming and extend the benefits of the work on global possibilities related to agriculture to all. The country has been working seriously in this direction for the last eight years. Today, farmers are being given resources, facilities and support through programmes like ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ and ‘Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati’. Under this scheme, 30,000 clusters have been formed in the country and lakhs of farmers are reaping its benefits. Under the ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’, about 10 lakh hectares of land will be covered in the country. Considering the cultural, social and ecological implications of natural farming, we have also linked it with the Namami Gange project. To promote natural farming in the country, a separate campaign is being run along the banks of the Ganges i.e. a corridor is being built.
There is a different type of demand for the organic products in the market. Its price is also high. When I visited Dahod, I met my tribal sisters in Dahod and they are into natural farming. They told me that their orders are placed a month in advance; the vegetables produced are sold daily and at a higher price. Now, a campaign has been started in which natural farming is being done around the Ganges for a stretch of 5 Km so that the chemicals do not end up in the river and even in drinking water. In the future, we can do all these experiments along the banks of Tapi and Mother Narmada. Therefore, we have also decided to certify the yields of natural farming. It should be identified and farmers should get more money for this. So, we have made arrangements to get it certified. Quality assurance system has also been made to authenticate it. Our farmers are exporting such certified crops at a good price. Today, chemical free products have become the centre of attraction in the world market. We have to take this benefit to more and more farmers of the country.
Along with the efforts of the government, we must also make use of our ancient knowledge in this field. Be it the Vedas, agricultural texts or scholars like Kautilya and Varahamihira, we have a vast reserve of knowledge related to natural farming. Acharya Devvrat ji is amidst us today. He too is very knowledgeable about this subject and has made this his life’s mantra. He has got success by doing a lot of experiments and now he is striving hard to ensure that the farmers of Gujarat also get the benefit of that success. But, friends, I have seen such hidden knowledge is embedded in our folk culture and scriptures. Scholars like Ghagha and Bhaddari have made the mantras of agriculture available to the general public in simple language. There is a saying and every farmer knows this proverb – ‘गोबर, मैला, नीम की खली, या से खेत दूनी फली’. That is, if fertilizer and neem cake are used in the fields, the crop’s yield will be doubled. Similarly, there is another popular saying – ‘छोड़े खाद जोत गहराई, फिर खेती का मजा दिखाई’. That is, if cow dung is used to till the field, then one can feel the true joy and strength of farming. I would like the organizations, NGOs and experts present here to focus on this aspect. Try to analyse these beliefs with an open mind.
I have a special request to the scientists to come forward to see what can come out of these old sayings and experiences. We should conduct new research work. How to empower our farmers with the available resources? How to make our agriculture better? How to keep our mother earth safe? To find answers to these questions, our scientists and educational institutions should come forward. How can all these things reach the farmers in today’s context? How can the scientific work reach the farmers from the laboratory in the language understood by them?
I am sure that the country’s beginnings through natural farming will not only lead to a happy life for the farmers, but will also pave the way for a new India. I am a member of the Lok Sabha from Kashi region. So, whenever I get a chance to meet the farmers of Kashi and talk to them, I feel really elated as the farmers of Kashi keep collecting a lot of information regarding natural farming. They experiment themselves, work hard day and night. And now they have a feeling that their produce is ready to be sold in the world market. That’s why I would like Surat to follow suit. There is not a single village in Surat from where people have not gone abroad. So, Surat has a special identity. Hence, the initiative of Surat will stand out on its own.
Although you have started this campaign of 75 farmers joining natural farming in every village, I am sure that soon 750 farmers will be ready in every village, not just 75. Once the whole district is covered, the buyers from around the world would always come looking for your produce as it will be free of chemicals and pesticides. It is an organic product and people will buy these goods by paying more for their health. In Surat city, all the vegetables are supplied from your place. If Surat city comes to know that your vegetables are produced using natural farming, I firmly believe that the people of Surat will prepare the Undhiyu dish with your organically grown vegetables this time. And then the people of Surat will put up boards titled – ‘Undhiyu made with organic vegetables’. You see, a market is being created in this field. Surat has its own strength. Just like the people of Surat are famous for diamonds, they will make this field popular too. Then everyone will come forward to take advantage of this campaign in Surat. I feel delighted to have got the opportunity to interact with all of you. Such a great campaign has been initiated. And I congratulate all of you once again for this. With that, many thanks to all of you once again!
Categories: POINT IAS