Young World

Go natural

Awarded: Recognition for green farming. Photo: Sandeep Saxena  

In 1972, Subhash Palekar graduated with a degree in B. Sc in Agriculture. He returned home eager to implement all that he had learnt in college. His father, had a farm in Belora, a small village in the Amravati district. He advised his father on modern techniques, and also urged him to use pesticides and chemical fertilizer.

New methods

Following his advice, crop yield increased considerably — for almost a decade. Then, by 1985 there was a drop in yield and with each successive year it only got worse. Palekar began to study the decline. He spent three years of intense research and finally arrived at the conclusion that chemical farming was the reason for the decline.

He found that using chemical fertilizer and pesticides decreased the fertility of the soil. It wrecked havoc with the ecosystem of that area and led to long term health problems for those who ate the fruits, vegetables and grain harvested in these conditions.

Palekar was shocked. He realised he needed a healthier alternative. He studied forest vegetation. He discovered that the natural system at work in the forests allowed the vegetation to grow and take care of itself and at the same time maintaining healthy ecosystems. He decided to mimic the technique in his own farm.

Palekar discovered that plants only receive 1.5 to two per cent of nutrient requirement from the soil. The remaining is absorbed through water and air. This was made obvious by the big trees he saw in the forests, laden with fruit. Obviously, they had not been aided in their growth by pesticides and fertilizer. These trees are proof that plants can and do grow healthily without chemical help. Whereas in a farm, the micro-organisms that convert raw nutrients into easily digestible form have been destroyed by the pesticides and chemical fertilizer.

For six years, he experimented and verified techniques. In the end, he arrived at Zero Budget Natural Farming. This is a method of farming where the cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero. There is no need for pesticides and fertilizer to grow a healthy crop.

Palekar took his findings to farmers across the country. More than 40 lakh farmers have benefited. Today, he spends 25 days a month sharing his knowledge through seminars, lectures, workshops and field visits.

In recognition of his work the Government of India conferred him with a Padmashri Award, thus becoming the first active farmer to receive the award.

Farming communities across the country have bestowed on Subhash Palekar the title Krishi ka Rishi.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 21, 2020 6:21:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/Go-natural/article14412569.ece

Next Story