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Arth Ganga Campaign: Clean Ganga Mission Encourages Farmers to Practice Zero-Budget Natural Farming

NMCG facilitated an exposure visit of about 30 farmers from the Ganga Basin to the Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) on Thursday to promote natural farming under the Namami Gange programme. This training/workshop camp took place from August 18 to August 22.

Shivam Dwivedi
Zero-Budget Natural Farming
Zero-Budget Natural Farming

According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Jal Shakti on Friday, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) organised a training-cum-workshop camp in Shirdi, Maharashtra, and urged farmers to adopt zero-budget natural farming as part of the 'Arth Ganga Campaign.'

NMCG facilitated an exposure visit of about 30 farmers from the Ganga Basin to the Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) on Thursday to promote natural farming under the Namami Gange programme. This training/workshop camp took place from August 18 to August 22.

The purpose of the farmer facilitation for the workshop under the Namami Gange Programme is to achieve the goals of preventing the flow of contaminated water from farms into the Ganga and creating a sustainable livelihood model for farmers based on natural farming under the Arth Ganga initiative, which was espoused by the Prime Minister during the 1st National Ganga Council meeting in Kanpur in December 2019.

G Ashok Kumar, Director General, NMCG, attended the workshop on Thursday in the presence of Subhash Palekar, a renowned agriculturalist known to the farming community as 'Krishi ka Rishi.' He is the promoter of the 'Zero Budget Natural Farming' technique, which is now known as Subhash Palekar Farming in India.

The workshop was attended by approximately 30 farmers from various districts in states along the main stem of the Ganga, including Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal, according to the statement. Madhav Rao Deshmukh, a prominent farmer and Palekar supporter, also attended the event.

Palekar and the farmers who attended the event had a fruitful interaction. He discussed the significance of acknowledging the natural order of things and the importance of informed agricultural practices in order to effectively use water.

Palekar discussed the techniques and importance of natural farming, as well as the various health benefits that could be reaped in the long run, using examples from his own extensive experience. "The most important factor that one should follow to be successful is trust," he added.

The curious farmers, on the other hand, shared their experiences with the gathering and asked various questions.

The workshop also includes training and field trips to exotic fruit farms such as Dragon Fruit, exposure visits to mixed crop, banana, and spice farms, training on converting wasteland to farmland using the Natural Farming model, sharing experience on marketing natural produce to establish a value chain free of middlemen, and so on.

In his address to the gathering, Kumar discussed his involvement with 'Maa Ganga' over the last 3-4 years and provided an overview of how the Prime Minister envisioned the Namami Gange Programme in 2014 to make River Ganga Nirmal an Aviral.

"Due to the flow of dirty water from sewage and industries, the Ganga River became polluted, and biodiversity, particularly Ganga Dolphins, began to become extinct." The Namami Gange Program was launched in 2014 to clean up the Ganga."

The positive impact of the Namami Gange Programme's work is now visible. Tapping the infamous Sisamau drain in Kanpur in 2019 (which discharged 14 crore litres of sewage into the River every day) and improved water quality during Kumbh 2019. More than any other technical parameter, the number of sightings of Ganga Dolphins and other aquatic species in the River has increased, which is the best indicator of its good health.

"Efforts are being made to stop the flow of more than 500 crore litres of contaminated water into River Ganga, and the participation of 20 crore people during Kumbh 2019, as opposed to the estimated 7 crore, is a testament to Ganga's improved water quality," he added. He stated that in the last few months, 20 lakh fishes were ranched into the Ganga at ten locations in five major stem states to increase biodiversity.

Speaking about plans to make Ganga banks 'chemical farming-mukt,' the Director-General stated that the NMCG is constantly striving to nudge farmers toward natural farming in order to achieve the twin goals of preventing contaminated water from flowing into the River Ganga from the fields and providing economic benefits of natural farming through the Arth Ganga campaign.

"On August 16, 2022, NMCG signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sahakar Bhartito form, among other objectives, a farmers' cooperative society in every village along River Ganga and promote natural farming among farmers," he said, adding, "Various interventions are being brought in through ArthGanga initiative that aims to enhance public participation."

Reiterating the importance of effective water management, Kumar stated that during his tenure at the National Water Mission, the Prime Minister launched a rainwater harvesting campaign called 'Catch the Rain: Where it Falls, When it Falls' on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22, 2021. He also discussed water-use efficiency, citing an example of China using 700 litres of water while we use 3,000 litres for the same amount of paddy production.

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