Go Back To Basics, Say Experts

New Delhi, March 28 | Updated: Mar 29 2004, 05:30am hrs
The Green Revolution, though, has enabled the country to boost production of staple crops, it has deteriorated the soil health due to excessive use of chemical fertilisers and degraded the environment through use of chemical pesticides.

The groundwater table has also been depleted on account of over-exploitation. In this context, the experts, who deliberated in the national conference on organic farming for sustainable production which concluded in Delhi on March 25, gave a clarion call Go Back To Basics.

Sompal, chairman, the National Commission on Farmers, who is also a former Union minister for agriculture and member of the Planning Commission said, The Green Revolution resulted in mono-cropping system of high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice. The result was that traditional varieties of wheat and rice which were more nutritious went out of cultivation. Even the nutritious coarse cereals which were earlier grown in arid and semi-arid rainfed areas went out of cultivation. It is time to bring back traditional crop varieties into cultivation and resort to multi-cropping system in the interest of food and nutritional security.

He also said that not only excessive use of chemical fertilisers has damaged soil health, the indiscriminate spray of chemical pesticides have killed the bio-agents occurring in nature which protect the crops against pests.

Mr Sompal, who himself is a farmer, also said that last year he tried cultivation of some traditional varieties of wheat through organic practices and this resulted in better yields. He said that these traditional varieties of wheat has more nutrition content as compared to high-yielding varieties. The clarion call of going back to the basics was also given by several other experts. The director-general of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Dr Mangla Rai in his message to the conference advocated the concept of bio-dynamic agriculture which has come into being alongwith modified methodologies for preparations of farmyard manuare and other formulations for pests and disease control. He said that concepts of integrated nutrient management (INM) and integrated pest management (IPM) packages evolved by ICAR includes use of natural or organic products like farmyard manuare, neem seed kernel extracts, neem and karanj seed cakes and biological agents, micobial preparations like Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Aspergillus, Verticillium, Trichoderma to minimise the dependence of agriculture on synthetic chemicals in effective crop production systems.

Dr Gautam Kalloo, deputy director-general, ICAR, said that shelf life of organic fruits and vegetable were more than their non-organic counterparts. Organic farming is less expensive for farmers who can earn premium prices for their produces. Hence, proper marketing and cerification of organic produces is absolutely necessary.

He said that the package for organic farming technology has to be location specific and therefore, There is a need to explain our organic farming practices to the international certifying bodies like IFOAM and other quality certifying bodies in the importing countries. He said there is a need to encourage farmers to produce on-farm organic manures as the transportation of organic manures in bulk will invlove higher transportation cost. He advocated use of green manuare, compost, nadep compost, cow dung, cow urine, bio-fertilisers, vermicompost, vermi-wash, irrigation management and biodynamic approach for enhancing soil fertility. For pests and diseases management Dr Kalloo advocated use of bioagents for insect management and nematode management.