Subhash Palekar, who was awarded the Padma Shri in June last year, is known for his 'zero budget natural farming'. He believes that farmers fields and animals like cows together are sufficient enough for good agriculture. He has been advocating this technique in which every in put for farming is generated from the farm and no external inputs are required. The agriculture is completely free of pesticides and fertilizers. He is in city for a three-day workshop. TOI spoke to him about agriculture. Excerpts from an interview
A lot of youths appear to be taking up agriculture, especially your zero budget natural farming. Why?
Yes, many youngsters are switching to farming. These are mainly highly educated youths including IITians. It is because they are realizing money cannot bring all the satisfaction in life. Also, there is no creativity in their jobs. There is lack of employment also. So all kinds of frustrations are making them look towards agriculture. I feel younger generation is going to bring change in agriculture. Zero budget natural farming is the only way to successful agriculture.
You say consumer awareness is the key to success in zero budget farming. How?
More and more people are realizing what they are eating is causing various diseases including cancer. A huge majority is now wanting pesticide and fertilizer-free food. This demand for healthy food is also prompting more people to switch to healthy and inexpensive farming.
You have already created a huge following in the country. Do you think all these people will take up agriculture and will continue to follow your philosophy and technology?
I am confident the following will grow. But these will be limited to only a class of dedicated and honest people. Otherwise, too, I am in no hurry. I know some day the country's agriculture would be focused on zero budget methodology.
Government is proposing doubling of production and doubling of agriculture income. Is it feasible?.
Not really. There is no technology with the present agriculture scientists or the universities to double production. The country is left with no option but to adopt zero budget farming which is scientific, easy and sustainable. Already 50 lakh farmers are doing it. But we still have a long way to go.
What is the difference between organic and zero budget natural farming and why do you oppose organic farming?
Organic farming involves a lot of investment and it generates expensive products. Not all farmers who claim to grow organically actually follow the norms. I oppose organic farming as it will again push farmer into crisis as it requires external inputs.
Have global recession and competition affected the agriculture sector?
Yes there has been an effect. But consumerism also has its limitations which is forcing the youths to switch to agriculture.
Can all your following be attributed to your activism?
No, not fully. I have a huge following through social media as well. People watch my YouTube videos and read my Facebook page and reach me. Over 33,000 followers are on Facebook alone. Initially I was not tech savvy but now every morning I spend three hours replying to questions that come through e-mail, Facebook and WhatsApp.