Naidu’s move welcome
The statement of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu that the state government would establish a university for nature farming Naidu mulls varsity for...
The statement of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu that the state government would establish a university for nature farming (Naidu mulls varsity for nature farming, 9 December 2018) is welcome. As Andhra Pradesh has been a pioneer in nature farming the curriculum for the courses needs to be developed to generate awareness on the benefits of the new farming practices vis-a-vis the conventional farming and to impart practical orientation to the farmers in all parts of the state such that the state will be transformed into a complete nature farming state in India. The training camps may be decentralized for the benefit of farmers.
The proposed university assumes importance as agriculture across the world is facing several setbacks whether in the form of extreme weather events like heavy floods and droughts or factors such as soil degradation, soil salinity and water shortage. It should be born in mind that overuse of agro- chemicals has contributed to steep losses in biodiversity particularly of pollinators vital to food crops.
Increase in pest resistance threatens to reverse the gains in yields.Sustainable agriculture needs to be brought onto the centre stage and should involve measures such as soil conservation, water conservation and irrigation. Climate-smart agricultural practices using renewable sources such as biofuels and solar, organic/nature farming, livestock management and so on spelt out by FAO need to be adopted to ensure food security for all.
Nature farming is in a way a variant of organic farming. It is in tune with nature and avoids use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides and involves inter cropping and crop residue retention. The zero budget natural farming( ZBNF) propagated by Subhash Palekar is farmer-oriented method. The produce is free of chemicals and good for health. As input costs are considerably reduced agriculture becomes a profitable venture for our farmers.
It is feared by some agriculturists that there would be yield gap between natural farming and conventional farming using chemicals . It should be assured that the yield gap will diminish over a period of time and the farmers would get higher yields under ZBNF compared to non-ZBNF. However, research is needed to lessen nutrient stress and to achieve better control of pests and diseases.
- Dr E R Subrahmanyam, Amalapuram