Governor of Gujarat Shri Acharya Devvrat ji, Home and Cooperation Minister Shri Amit Bhai Shah, Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar ji, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Bhai Patel ji, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ji, all other dignitaries, and thousands of my farmer brothers and sisters from across the country who are part of this program. Today is a very important day for the agriculture sector of the country. I had urged the farmers from all over the country to join the National Conclave of Natural Farming. As informed by Agriculture Minister Tomar ji, about eight crore farmers are connected with us from every corner of the country through technology. I welcome all my farmer brothers and sisters. I also greet Acharya Devvrat ji from the bottom of my heart. I was listening to him very attentively like a student. I am not a farmer myself, but I was able to understand what is needed for natural farming and what should be done. He explained in very simple words. I sat all through to listen to him because I know about his achievements and his successful experiments. The farmers of our country will never underestimate and disregard what he said about their benefits.
This conclave is happening in Gujarat but its scope and impact is for every farmer of India. Issues like different dimensions of agriculture, food processing and natural farming will go a long way in transforming Indian agriculture in the 21st century. Agreements worth thousands of crores of rupees were discussed during this conclave and there has been progress also. The enthusiasm towards ethanol, organic farming and food processing amplifies new possibilities. I am also satisfied that the experiments of synergy between technology and natural farming in Gujarat are showing the direction to the entire country. I once again want to express special gratitude to the Governor of Gujarat, Acharya Devvrat ji, who shared his experiences and explained in great detail to the farmers of the country about natural farming in a very coherent way.
Today is the time to look at the past and learn from the experiences and draw new ways during the ongoing Amrit Mahotsav of Independence. We have seen very closely how the growth and direction of farming took place for several decades after independence. Now our journey till the 100th year of independence, the next 25 years, is to adapt our agriculture according to new requirements and new challenges. In the last 6-7 years, several steps have been taken from seeds to markets to increase the farmers’ income. Measures from soil testing to preparing hundreds of new seeds, from PM Kisan Samman Nidhi to fixing MSP at 1.5 times the cost of production, from a strong network of irrigation to Kisan Rails have been taken. And Tomar ji also mentioned some of these measures in his speech. Along with agriculture, farmers are constantly being connected with many alternative sources of income like animal husbandry, beekeeping, fisheries, solar energy and bio-fuels. A provision of lakhs of crores has been made to strengthen storage, cold chain and food processing in villages. All these efforts are giving resources to the farmers, giving them the option of their choice. But an important question lies before us. What will happen when the soil itself will give in? What will happen when the weather will not support and the water in the womb of Mother Earth will be restricted? Today, agriculture around the world is facing these challenges. It is true that chemicals and fertilizers played an important role in the Green Revolution. But it is equally true that we have to keep working on its alternatives at the same time and pay more attention to it. We have to import large quantities of pesticides and chemical fertilizers used in agriculture. Billions and trillions of rupees have to be spent on its imports. As a result, the cost of farming also increases; the expenditure of the farmer increases and the day-to-day expenses of the poor shoot up. This problem is also related to the health of the farmers and all the countrymen. Therefore, we need to be conscious of it.
There is a proverb in Gujarati, which is spoken in every household, ''पानी आवे ते पहेला पाल बांधे” i.e., abstinence is better than cure. It is the right time to take important steps before the problems related to agriculture become even worse. We have to take our farming out of the lab of chemistry and connect it with the lab of nature. When I talk about nature's laboratory, it is completely science-based. Acharya Devvrat ji has also explained this in detail. We have also seen this in a short documentary. As he said, you can access his speeches in his book or on YouTube. The potential which is in fertilizer, that element is also present in nature. We just have to increase the amount of those bacteria in the soil, which increases its fertile power. Many experts say that indigenous cows also play an important role in this. Experts say that a solution can be prepared with cow dung and cow urine which will also protect the crop and will also increase fertility. Everything from seed to soil can be treated in a natural way. This farming costs neither fertilizer nor pesticide. It also requires less irrigation and is also capable of dealing with floods and droughts. Whether it is less irrigated land or land with extra water, natural farming allows the farmers to sow many crops in a year. Not only this, the stubble from wheat, paddy, pulses etc. is also used properly in this technique. That is, low cost, maximum profit. This is what natural farming is all about.
The more modern the world is becoming, the more it is moving towards 'back to basic'. What is the meaning of this ‘back to basic’? It means connecting with your roots! Who understands this better than farmer friends? The more we water the roots, the more the plant grows. India is an agricultural country. Our society has developed, traditions have been nurtured and festivals have been forged around agriculture. Today farmer friends are connected from every corner of the country. You tell me, is there anything like the food, lifestyle, festivals and traditions of your area, which is not affected by our agriculture or crops? When our civilization has flourished so much with agriculture, then how rich and scientific our knowledge and science must have been regarding agriculture? Therefore, brothers and sisters, when the world talks about organic, it talks about nature. And when there is a mention about back to basics, its roots are seen linked to India.
Many scholars related to agriculture are present here who have done extensive research on this subject. You know extensive research has been carried out on agriculture in our country and it has even found mention in Rigveda and Atharvaveda to our Puranas, to ancient texts like Krishi-Parashara and Kashyapi Krishi Sukta, and from Tamil Nadu's Saint Thiruvalluvar ji in the south to the agricultural poet Ghagh in the north. There is a verse-
गोहितः क्षेत्रगामी च,
वितन्द्रः सर्व शस्याढ्यः,
कृषको न अवसीदति॥
That is, One who cares about the welfare of cattle, livestock, knows about the season and time, knows about the seed, and is not lazy, such a farmer can never be distraught and poor. This one verse is also the formula of natural farming, and also tells the potential of natural farming. All the resources mentioned in this are naturally available. Similarly, many formulas have been given as to how to make the soil fertile, when to apply water in which crop and how to save water. Another very popular verse is-
नैरुत्यार्थं हि धान्यानां जलं भाद्रे विमोचयेत्।
मूल मात्रन्तु संस्थाप्य कारयेज्जज-मोक्षणम्॥
That is, water should be removed in the month of Bhadra (August-September) in order to strengthen and protect the crop from disease. Water should remain in the field only till the roots. Similarly, the poet Ghagh has also written-
गेहूं बाहें, चना दलाये।
धान गाहें, मक्का निराये।
That is, the crop of wheat improves by tillering, gram by rotation, paddy by getting more water, maize by weeding and sowing sugarcane after leaving it in water. You can imagine Saint Thiruvalluvar ji in Tamil Nadu also gave so many sutras related to farming about 2000 years ago. He said -
तोड़ि-पुड़ुडी कछ्चा उणक्किन,
पिड़िथेरुवुम वेंडाद् सालप पडुम
That is, if the land is dried, so as to reduce one ounce of the earth to a quarter, it will grow plentifully even without a handful of manure.
We need not only to re-learn this ancient knowledge of agriculture, but also to sharpen it for modern times. In this direction, we have to do research afresh, mould ancient knowledge into the modern scientific frame. In this direction, institutions like our ICAR, Krishi Vigyan Kendras and agricultural universities can play a big role. We do not have to limit the information to research papers and theories only, but we have to convert it into practical success. Lab to land will be our journey. These institutions can also start this initiative. You can take a pledge that you will take natural farming to more and more farmers. When you will show that it is possible with success, then ordinary human beings will also connect with it as soon as possible.
Along with learning new things, we need to unlearn the wrong practices that have crept into our agriculture. Experts say that by setting fire to the field, the soil loses its fertile capacity. One should understand that when the clay is heated, it takes the form of a brick. And the brick becomes so strong that the building is built. But there is a tradition of burning crop residues. Despite knowing that clay once heated becomes brick we continue to burn the soil. Similarly, there is an illusion that crop yield will not be good without chemicals, whereas the truth is quite the opposite. Earlier there were no chemicals, but the harvest was good. History of the development of humanity is witness to this. Despite all the challenges, humanity flourished and progressed the fastest in the agricultural age, because natural farming was done and people constantly learned. Today in the industrial age, we have the power of technology, there are resources and we also have information regarding the weather. Now farmers can create a new history. At a time when the world is concerned about global warming, Indian farmers can provide a solution through their traditional knowledge. Together we can do something.
Brothers and sisters,
Those who will benefit the most from natural farming constitute about 80% of the farmers of the country, the small farmers, who have less than 2 hectares of land. Most of these farmers spend a lot on chemical fertilizers. If they turn to natural farming, their condition will be better.
Brothers and sisters,
Gandhiji’s statement on natural farming fits perfectly that where there will be exploitation, there will be no nourishment. Gandhiji used to say that forgetting to turn the soil, forgetting to till the field is like forgetting oneself in a way. I am satisfied that it is being improved in many states of the country in the last few years. In recent years, thousands of farmers have adopted natural farming. Many of these are start-ups by the youth. They have also benefited from the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana launched by the Central Government. Under this scheme, training is also being given to the farmers and help is also being extended to move towards this farming.
Brothers and sisters,
The experiences of lakhs of farmers from some states, who have taken to natural farming, are encouraging. We had started efforts on natural farming long back in Gujarat. Today its positive effects are being seen in many parts of Gujarat. Similarly, the attraction towards this farming is increasing rapidly in Himachal Pradesh too. Today, I will urge every state, every state government, to come forward to make natural farming a mass movement. In this Amrit Mahotsav, we can make efforts to associate at least one village of every panchayat with natural farming. I would like to tell my farmer brothers not to experiment on the entire land. Take a portion of your field and experiment. If you find benefit, then expand it further. In a couple of years, you will slowly cover the entire field. I also urge investors that this is the time to invest heavily in organic and natural farming and in the processing of their products. Not only the country, but the global market is waiting for us. We have to work today for the future possibilities.
In this virtuous period, India has to give the best solution to the world regarding food security and harmony with nature. At the Climate Change Summit, I called upon the world to make Lifestyle for Environment i.e. LIFE a global mission. India and its farmers are going to lead this in the 21st century. So let's take a pledge to make Maa Bharati's land free from chemical fertilizers and pesticides during the Amrit Mahotsav of Independence and show the world the way to a healthy earth and a healthy life. Today the country has cherished the dream of a self-reliant India. India can become self-reliant only when its agriculture becomes self-reliant, every farmer becomes self-reliant. And this can happen only when we enrich the soil of Maa Bharati with cow dung, with natural elements instead of unnatural fertilizers and medicines. We will make natural farming a mass movement in the interest of every countryman and in the interest of every living being. With this belief, I thank the Chief Minister of Gujarat and his entire team for this initiative, to make it a mass movement in Gujarat. I also extend my heartfelt congratulations to all concerned for connecting the farmers of the entire country. Thanks a lot!