Natural farming is a chemical-free farming method and is considered an agroecology-based diversified farming system which integrates crops, trees and livestock with functional biodiversity.
In contemporary times, there is an increasing belief that food grown in a natural way is more nutritious than those using chemicals. Also, presently lack of organic carbon in the soil is considered as a serious concern by the government. In order to meet the challenge and to improve soil health, the government has banked on promoting natural farming which is also very beneficial for the environment as a whole.
The government has already formulated Natural Mission on Natural Farming (NMNF) by up-scaling the Bharatiya
Prakritik Krishi Paddhati (BPKP) to promote natural farming on a larger scale across the country.
This comes after the announcement of chemical free natural farming in the Union Budget 2022-23.
According to government, Department of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare (DA&FW) is undertaking large scale training of Master Trainers, Champion Farmers and practicing farmers on techniques of Natural Farming through National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE) and National Center of Organic and Natural Farming (NCONF). It has also sensitized the public representatives like Gram-Pradhan on the technique and benefits of Natural Farming.
In a written reply during the recently concluded Budget session of the parliament, the government informed that study material in 22 regional languages has been prepared and 697 Master Trainers have been developed on natural farming and 997 training were conducted on natural farming for 56952 Gram Pradhans through MANAGE. In addition, it said, Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has initiated research in 20 locations to validate natural farming techniques besides demonstrating in 425 KVKs to showcase the benefits of natural farming.
Besides, a Digital web portal has been launched for promotion of natural farming to display information about implementation framework, resources, implementation progress, farmer’s registration, blog etc.
Government is promoting natural farming through a sub-scheme namely Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi
Paddhati (BPKP) under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) since 2019-2020. So far 4.09 lakh ha area has been brought under BPKP.
Under BPKP, natural farming is being promoted in clusters of 500 ha and Rs. 12200.00 is provided per ha for three years, in which Rs. 2000 is provided as incentives to farmers through DBT. While government efforts are welcome, there is need to connect farmers with natural farming including organic one. Also the government should facilitate an ecosystem in which farmers learn from and support each other.