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Reducing cost and promoting innovations to improve farmer incomes sustainably

A great deal is being talked about so-called zero budget farming these days. In a way, it is good that what our open source database on farmers’ cost-reducing innovations could not achieve during the last thirty years, at a large scale, it is beginning to happen. But less chemical inputs mean, more time and labour by the farmer and his family. Not less. This labour is not free and thus there is nothing which can really be called as Zero Budget farming. The Honey Bee Newsletter has published thousands of natural farming practices developed by the farmers in water conservation, diversified farming, herbal and agronomic ways of pest control, making growth promoters etc.

The entire database was handed over to the ministry of agriculture several years ago with a request to share it widely through kisan call centres to farmers. It is accessible with a link to sristi.org/hbnew at https://farmer.gov.in/innovation/agricultureinnovation.aspx. Unless we share it widely through KVKs, have on-farm trials, invite some of these farmers for discussion with other farmers, how will farmers reduce their cost and improve income. In a large country like ours, we should use pluralistic, multi-pronged approach rather than going by fads of the day. The Vriksh Ayurveda and many other texts are a testimony to the fact that the tradition of experimenting with natural or non-synesthetic chemical farming is thousands of years old. With changes in cropping patterns, climatic condition, land use practices, pest population dynamics, resistance due to excessive chemical input use, excessive water use etc., farmers will have to develop a habit of location-specific experiments to develop, refine and diffuse proven practices.

Anything to the contrary is unlikely to sustain. Nature doesn’t accept uniformity for long. The intercropping trials will need to evolve different ratios of crops in different regions. At some places, the probability of early rain is high while in some other, late rain may be more probable. The ratio of different crops cannot be constant. I am extremely happy that mixed and inter-crop are being revised.

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