NAGPUR: A huge section of farmers are moving away from agriculture due to farming distress and agriculture crisis.
However, another class of new age farmers is emerging that either had nothing to do with agriculture till now but taking to agriculture or those who were agriculturist but are switching from chemical-based (fertilizer and pesticides) to natural farming.
This new class of farmers include highly educated people, businessmen, industrialists, etc who are taking up the 'zero budget natural farming' being advocated by Padhma Shri Subhash Palekar. He is sowing seeds of a silent revolution arising from consumer awareness. People now want to eat and live healthy. They are creating a demand for natural products which are free of pesticides and fertilizers.
While attending a three-day workshop on 'zero budget natural farming' by Palekar, Shrikrishan Zadokar, a retired agriculture officer from Buldhana, said looking back he feels ashamed of agriculture knowledge he had from his education.
"I attended Palekar's workshop last year at Akot. It is sad that I am realizing it at the age of 66 that agriculture can be also done without any investment at all. I have managed to increase the yield of lady finger using Palekar's method to two-and-a-half times by using simple methods like organic leaves mulching. This method has guaranteed income as against conventional practices and there is no chance of any loss," said Zadokar.
Padma Kothari, a businessman who has switched to zero budget farming since last one year in Khaparkheda, said he wants to ensure that his family eats quality and healthy food. "I want to know more about this kind of farming. I grow fruits of various types on 20 acres and now want to switch to Palekar's method of zero budget farming. I want my family to eat healthy," said Kothari.
Jaishree Kalkonde from Hyderabad was there with her son Shishir and daughter-in-law Deepti. The family has taken up farming since four years and adopted zero budget natural farming in last one year. "We had seen his videos on YouTube, but wanted to have one-to-one interaction," she said.
Kiran Chikhale, a software engineer from Pune who plans to take up agriculture, has bought land and wants to use the zero budget technology. "I have known Palekar through YouTube and Facebook. I wanted to learn before taking up agriculture," she said.
Anil Kher from Nagpur, Narayan Yeole from Mouda and Datttatrya Sonegaonkar from Sonegaon village in Wardha, all-first time participants in Palekar's workshop, said they want to know about zero budget farming first before taking it up.
Rajendra Wankhede from Kamargaon in Washim district, who attended the workshop for the second time, said he has already improved the fruit quality and durability of oranges in his orchard in one year using zero budget farming.