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Agri Ministry Plans a New Scheme to Encourage Natural Farming

Natural farming, also known as traditional farming methods, is a chemical-free alternative to traditional farming methods, according to the government think tank Niti Aayog. It is regarded as an agroecology-based diversified farming system that combines crops, trees, and livestock with functional biodiversity.

Abha Toppo
Picture of a Paddy Field
Picture of a Paddy Field

A senior government official said on Tuesday that the Agriculture Ministry is preparing a new central scheme to promote natural farming in the country, with an estimated budget of Rs 2,500 crore. The proposed new natural farming scheme will be presented to the Cabinet for approval soon, according to the official.

The new scheme was designed months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized the importance of continuing to look for alternatives to existing fertilizer and pesticide-based farming while speaking at a national conclave on natural farming in Gujarat last December. Modi also stated that natural farming produces far superior products with no negative side effects.

"A draft scheme on natural farming has been framed after several rounds of consultations with stakeholders in order to promote natural farming with a systematic approach without disrupting existing farming systems," as per a government official.

More about this Scheme:

To begin, the proposed scheme will take a complementary and cluster approach, with a focus on intensive handholding of farmers practicing natural farming, marketing of the produce, and providing extension services, among other activities, according to the official.

The scheme's goal is not to convert chemical farming, but to promote natural farming in areas where chemical farming has not yet reached. Chemical farming, for example, is not widely practiced in dryland areas, according to the official. It should be noted that the government has announced in the Union Budget 2022 the promotion of chemical-free natural farming throughout the country, beginning with fields within a 5-kilometer corridor along the Ganga river.

Natural farming, also known as traditional farming methods, is a chemical-free alternative to traditional farming methods, according to the government think tank Niti Aayog. It is regarded as an agroecology-based diversified farming system that combines crops, trees, and livestock with functional biodiversity.

Natural farming is promoted in India as the Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati Programme (BPKP), which is part of the centrally sponsored scheme Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY). Niti Aayog, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, hosted a series of high-level discussions on natural farming practices with global experts.

It is estimated that approximately 2.5 million farmers in India are already engaged in regenerative agriculture. It is expected to reach 20 lakh hectares - in any form of organic farming, including natural farming - in the next five years, with 12 lakh hectares under BPKP, according to Aayog's website. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Kerala have all adopted the BPKP programme.

Several studies have reported the effectiveness of natural farming BPKP in terms of increased production, sustainability, water savings, soil health improvement, and farmland ecosystem improvement. It is regarded as cost-effective farming practice with the potential to increase employment and rural development, according to Aayog.

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