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A Lesson in natural farming from a progressive farmer from Himachal Pradesh

Amit Bhatt
Amit Bhatt
Kamal with his alternative to chemicals
Kamal with his alternative to chemicals

Kamal Kumar Lakhanpal is resident of district Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh and has been a farmer for last 20 years. He thanks department of agriculture HP, Department of Horticulture HP, Animal Husbandry Department HP, Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) Hamirpur, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) Project Hamirpur, KVK Hamirpur at Bara, Agriculture University at Palampur and their scientists for their guidance and lessons from time to time. 

These scientists taught him how to farm without chemicals, which he terms as poison, and it was a fresh initiative. He was enthusiastic about farming and JICA sent him to the ashram of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Bangalore. It was an educating experience for him, and then he learnt about Subhash Palekar. Subhash Palekar is talk of the country for his concept of natural farming. He said earlier organic farming and now natural farming has been of great interest to him and his work with these is something we wants to discuss with all farmers. 

Why Natural Farming?

Earlier to grow vegetables, other crops, pulses the fertilizers, chemicals, pesticides were used in excess amount, which was found to be dangerous for our health. The thinking of the farmers at the time was, to grow more and to protect their crops with these chemicals. 5 years ago he decided to go natural with farming and he realized that there was great benefit in using the ingredients available within his farm.  He was curious, it was a new subject and to start with something new is always difficult for farmers. For last 15-20 years the farmers have been adding poisonous chemicals to their farms, this practice must be stopped. He thanked government for their efforts in promoting natural farming, through their schemes. He said natural manure and pesticides made out of cow dung and cow urine are enough to fertilize the soil and kill enemy pests.

Kamal with another combination
Kamal with another combination

He said they have some dairy farms in the village with desi cows, from the dung and urine of which they produce beej amrit, jeev amrit and others which has greatly benefited their crops. Firstly, natural farming looks after wind, water, earth and sky. We started thinking about how to recover mother earth from the hurt which we have caused her by use of the chemicals. 3 years ago, a training camp was organized at Palampur by Subhash Palekar in association with Agriculture university and HP government. This training removed any doubts that he had. He said the produce grown with natural fertilizers are easier to store as they last much longer. There was a huge difference in the taste, as this new produce was much tastier. 

Natural farming has changed the way we work, earlier we used to let the cow dung melt and use it in the farms. But now we produce Jeev amrit, through dried cow dung, of which 50 KGs is used per bigha while earlier we used quintals of cow manure. With natural farming, our friendly worms have returned which enrich the soil with nutrients. Rainwater which used to flow away due to hardness of top soil, now is absorbed by the soil which has assisted in the return of friendly insects, worms and germs.

Kamal's farm
Kamal's farm

How to begin with natural farming?

He said 1 Kg of cow dung and 1 liter of cow urine are enough to start work with natural farming as you will be able to produce the jeev amrit and beej amrit easily. With the new produce you will see the difference in taste and the smell will fill your house with fresh aroma. Earlier what we produced with chemicals never smelt good and enough. This is an interesting subject and we still have much to learn. He gives an example of use of natural farming for farmers growing vegetables at a small scale. These farmers can dry 2-3 Kgs their cow dung, mix it well with cow urine, jaggery or sugar and besan and dhan beej amrit will be ready which is applied as fertilizer to the soil on which your plants grow. You will see the results with your next harvest. 

He said that you can see the videos of Subhash Palekar, Rajiv Dixit or others on YouTube and learn from it. You must always test what you have learnt, on the farm but it all depends on you. If you are farming on a low scale, 2 Kgs of cow dung and 2 liters of cow urine will be good enough to last for a year.

Making pesticides naturally

He continues that to make pesticides and insecticides they use leaves from different varieties of trees (neem, guava, papaya and 10 others), chutneys of garlic, ginger, green chilies which will fight insects or pests and protect your plants against other factors also, after spraying. These are easy to make. You may take some cow dung and cow urine and add 20 times as much water, for example if you take 1 Kg of cow dung and 1 liter of cow urine you will need 50 grams of leaves. You should use neem and other varieties which the animals or insects dislike. This medicine lasts for a year to a year and a quarter. He explains how to make these medicines again. You should take 20 liters of water in a drum and add 1 Kg of cow dung and 1 liter of cow urine. Then add 100 grams of sugar and 100 grams of besan. Then take 50-100 grams of finely chopped up leaves of above-mentioned leaves with 50-100 grams of the chutneys listed above and mixed and put to a side. This above-mentioned medicine is Agniastra, and it protects not only from pests and insects but repels any wandering animals. 

If you want to prepare fungicides you will need to use lassi (yoghurt drink). In winter season and in rains we need fungicides the most. 300 grams of bitter lassi in 10 liters of water will act as an effective fungicide spray. Those interested in selling seeds or seedlings will need beej amrit. For this you can take 200 gram of cow dung and 200 ml of cow urine and add double the amount of water. Add 10 grams of limestone and store in cool conditions to treat the seeds. Take 10 grams of good soil and then place over seeds in (24 in summer 48 hours in winter), the seeds will remain safe, will germinate well, will not catch disease. You can wash seeds of big size with this solution or paste over smaller ones. 

Although you will need to work hard for all this but you will get good results in terms of money. Your farm productivity will increase, he explains. If you use fertilizers initially you may get 90 percent output but your soil will lose fertility. With natural methods you will reach 70 percent in 3-4 years of time with increase in fertility of your soil. He mentions that he and his fellow farmers have experiences of good results with root vegetables like radish and turnips which grow very well with these natural alternatives.  

How to prepare jeev amrit?

He then explained how to prepare jeev amrit. Take 1 Kg of cow dung, 1 liter of cow urine, 100 grams sugar, 100 grams of jaggery and 10 liters of water. Mix these well in a drum and leave aside for 48 hours, giving it a hourly shake for a minute. In summer it takes 48 hours and in winter it takes 48-72 hours to prepare. This spray can be done on your crops or vegetables. On how to spray he said add half a liter of the jeev amrilt to 10 liters of water and spray it over crops or vegetables which grow over 60-90 days. There are different schedules over 15-21 days for spraying and different quantity are added for spraying for different crops.

These sprays will guard you against fungus and other diseases which may harm your crops. In the end he said he hoped that he explained natural farming, its benefits and other details well enough. He said there are further things that you will need to learn about like pH value, organic carbon which he hopes the farmers will focus on carefully, become healthy, and life in our community will improve. Please click here to see his video for yourself.

Kamal Kumar Lakhanpal

Kamal Kumar Lakhanpal

Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

Jila Prakritik Kheti Kisan Vikas Samiti, Hamirpur

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