The nature of farming is worth considering at this point. Some people believe that the running intensive farming practices, utilising high quantities of chemical fertilisers and insecticides, despite being polluting to the environment are still cost efficient and so worth following. Some others think that organic farming practices, utilising natural or compost manure and natural neem leaf juice for insecticidal purpose, should be immediately followed and organic crops be selectively grown on appropriate lands. Some persons are in favour of implementation of proper land use policy with maintenance of at least 33.33 percent area of country under dense forest cover for the sake of soil conservation, the prime requirement of cost effective natural traditional farming (that means 100 percent organic farming).
Is Organic Farming a Challenge in India?
The Europe continent has almost uniformly 40 percent land under forest cover, and therefore presents a nice picture of soil conservation driven farming with reduced consumption of chemical insecticides. But it does not mean Europe practises 100 percent organic farming. Japan, despite possessing 68 percent land under forest cover, practises intensive farming and European agriculture is selective organic farming in nature. In such a situation to practise traditional farming or 100 percent organic farming in the 21st century for a country like India seems really a challenging job. But it is true that selective organic farming has been successfully practised in the country.
Organic Farming: Opportunity for New Entrants
Experiences of Organic Farmers
The experiences of organic farmers in India can serve as a guideline for new entrants in agriculture. One of the noteworthy experiences of forty two years in organic farming in India belongs to Narayana Reddy who now operates a training centre at his village Doddaballapur for people interested in practising organic farming. He avers that scientific recommendation of using chemical fertilisers in farms is a myth. According to him there is always shying away from sharing knowledge like nitrogen fixation responsible for converting atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia. It is worth mentioning that his four acres of land yields 20 tonnes of sapota, around 6000 coconuts, 10 tonnes of papaya, 7-8 tonnes of banana and 20 tonnes of vegetables.
The real challenges for new entrants in agriculture are so-called natural calamities like monsoon disturbances, floods, droughts etc. Such an unfortunate situation in India is due to land misuse with horizontal expansion of cities and continuous contraction of forest tract. The rigid mindset of conventional farmers practising intensive farming and agricultural scientists’ recommendation of using chemical fertilisers and insecticides are also challenges. But in fact real opportunities exist in organic farming using animal urine, dung, compost manure and natural insecticides like neem leaf juice. However excellent cost efficient organic farming demands proper land use policy with maintenance of dense forest cover on at least 33.33 percent land of the country.
Forestry, Animal Keeping and Agriculture: Complimentary Professions
The new entrants in agriculture in India can well initiate with and farmers realising saturation in formal agriculture business can diversify to forestry and animal keeping professions. All three professions are complimentary and synced with each other. The countries with cropland near about world average (11% of total country area) or in other words below 20 percent are capable to generate the far better data for annual grain yield in comparison to India where farming is running on 50 percent land cover. Needless to say, the new entrants in agriculture in India should very well calculate the cost of land misuse in the country. And they should come up with better land use plans particularly in the context of forest and pasture development. Unfortunately, in India, forest-pasture development plans are seldom considered actionable mostly as the subset of organic farming. In fact agriculture has been traditionally developed as subset of forestry and animal keeping professions. Indian youth is expected to work upon new amplitudes of forest-pasture development and prove how those are actionable or profitable projects so that misused lands in pseudo-agriculture and pseudo-urbanisation might be converted for dense forest-pasture development. Dense forestation will obviously add to crop yield in farms.