“My first exposure to natural farming was back in 1987 when I was associated with the local Gandhian Adivasi Association. Even today I remember – in one of our visits to the tribal regions of the Kuruma tribe, in their deva pera (God’s room) I noticed the use of low quality rice husk. Upon asking the tribe’s leader on use of such low quality rice husk he said,
“farmers here have started using chemicals in their paddy fields. It is since then that the husk’s quality has reduced … If by using chemicals this is what is happening with the husk then I can only wonder what will happen to the people eating this rice…
Later in 1994 I got to interact with Trivandrum’s Regional Cancer Centre’s (RCC), doctors who were studying on the increasing numbers of cancer patients in the adivasi regions of Wayanad. To my shock, the study showed that the adivasi communities that still practiced their traditional ways of cultivation had a much lower number of cancer patients in comparison to those that converted to the prescribed intensive agriculture practices.
I decided to stay away from synthetic chemicals and such farming practices. And slowly started transitioning to traditional practices, moving away from the conventional models.
Attending Subash Palekhar ji’s camp on natural farming in 2009 gave me a deeper understanding on the different traditional and natural farming practices. Support from close friends and fellow farmers encouraged me to then fully convert to natural farming.
I actively started practicing natural farming in 2011 with paddy cultivation. Even though the yield was less in the first year, from the second years onwards I saw a drastic increase in the yield. From one single plant I could harvest 72 Kgs of paddy. Over the course of the next 2-3 years I observed that the weight of the harvest kept increasing which was because of the increase in the plant’s nutrient concentration.
When I compare it with my earlier days of practicing chemical agriculture, I noticed considerable decrease in pest attack while doing natural farming. Also, earlier there hardly used to be any living beings in the soil but now I had an increasing number of creatures like earthworms that live in soil. Unfortunately though since the last few years, due to rampant pig attacks and incessant rainfall, I haven’t been able to continue with paddy cultivation.
The experience that I had with paddy clearly proved it to me that natural farming is the way forward and it is a successful model
Today I cultivate vegetables like tomato, gourds, chillies, beans etc; tubers like yam, tapioca, kachil etc; fruits like papaya, coconut, mango, guava, etc and spices like pepper, ginger, turmeric, Kaung and even coffee. All these are naturally grown across a total area of 1.5 acres. Most of these are used for my own consumption and of people in and around me.
In the coming years I plan to initiate an agro-forestry model of farming with the 5 stage farming practice. Meanwhile this year I am working on restarting paddy cultivation. “