In his Independence Day address to the nation in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, “The way we are using chemical fertilisers and pesticides, it is damaging the health of our soil. As a farmer, as a child of this soil, I have no right to damage its health. I have no right to make my mother India sad nor do have I right to make her sick.”
As agriculture supports nearly 47% of Indian population and contributes a significant 18% to the Indian GDP, it is pivotal to transform the sector in ways that invoke sustainability and security. PM Modi’s government has been conscious of the problems long faced by the farming community in India, and hence its measured yet robust push towards natural and organic farming is well intentioned.
Historically, while Rig Veda and Atharva Veda make mentions of green manure, Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita elaborates upon different methods of manuring. Kautilya’s Arthashastra lists out several kinds of manures like excreta of animals and oil cake. And the great Indian epic Mahabharata talks about the celestial cow, Kamdhenu, and the role that it plays in human life and retaining soil fertility.
The Indian traditions thus serve as a reservoir of vital information for revitalising and mainstreaming indigenous practices—capable of restoring the health of the ecosystem and sustaining livelihoods.
With this approach in the main, the Modi government’s emphasis on these farming approaches is rooted in their potential to increase farm productivity, reduce input costs thereby raise farm incomes, improve soil health, and enhance access to niche markets. Hence, this shift not only aligns with global environmental concerns but also holds the promise of ushering in a new era of prosperity for Indian farmers.
The manifestation of this shift assumed form via Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) launched back in 2015-16. An all-inclusive scheme, PKVY is designed to provide end-to-end assistance to farmers in their shift towards organic farming—right from production, processing, certification to marketing and post-harvest management. The ultimate aim of the scheme is to promote creation of organic villages via cluster approach and Participatory Guarantee System certification (PGS) that helps farmers certify their produce plus label and market them domestically. This has led to dissemination of latest technologies in organic farming, quality control of organic inputs, improvement in soil health, and promotion of sustainable farming practices among rural farmers, youth, consumers, and traders alike.
Since its inception, PKVY has brought an area of 11.85 lakh hectare under organic farming. The Modi government aims to add another 6 lakh hectare between 2022-23 and 2025-26.
In addition to enhanced productivity, organic and natural farming hold promise of increasing farm incomes through reduction in input costs. These practices encourage the use of natural inputs such as compost, green manure, and biopesticides, reducing the dependence on expensive chemical fertilisers and pesticides. This not only lowers the financial burden on farmers but also contributes to the overall sustainability of agriculture by minimising the environmental impact associated with synthetic inputs.
The Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Padhati (BKPK), introduced in 2020-21, as a sub-scheme of PKVY, mainly caters to exclusion of all chemical inputs while promoting on-farm biomass recycling with emphasis on biomass mulching, utilising plant-based and cow dung-urine preparations, among other things. The scheme provides financial assistance throughout the process, right from cluster formation, capacity building to certification. Promoting agro-ecological farming system, 4.09 lakh hectare has been sanctioned under BKPK.
Building on this initiative, the government launched the National Mission on Natural Farming in 2023-24 to give a boost to chemical-free agriculture and expand the reach of natural farming. It has been rightfully backed by a funding of Rs. 459 crore.
Such consistent efforts are leading to massive improvements in soil health even as these practices improve water retention and microbial activity through use of organic matter, cover cropping and crop rotation. The long-term benefits of healthier soil include better resilience to climate variability and improved crop yields, ensuring long-term food security and sustainability of agriculture.
Farm incomes are further improved as these initiatives enhance farmers’ access to higher-value markets, not just domestically but also globally. Organic produce often commands premium prices in the market due to its perceived health benefits and environment-friendly production methods. By tapping into the rising demand of organic products, Indian farmers have the opportunity to access larger markets, thereby improving their economic well-being.
Keeping a tab on these benefits, Modi Government’s Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER) has expanded organic farming across 1.73 lakh hectares, benefitting 1.89 lakh farmers. The scheme is credited with the formation of 379 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), establishment of 205 collection, aggregation and grading units, 190 custom hiring centres, 123 processing units and pack houses, and development of 7 brands.
The Jaivik Kheti Portal, a dedicated web portal to promote marketing of organic products, also boasts of over 6.15 lakh farmers registrations.
In addition, the government has strengthened its commitment towards the cause of sustainability in agriculture via intiatives like National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm, Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme, and National Food Security Mission.
This proactive approach backed by ample financial assistance and strategic handholding at each step sets the Modi government apart in its commitment towards Indian agriculture. As the nation embraces a greener revolution, the benefits of natural and organic farming are poised to create a win-win situation for both farmers and the environment.