A small farm on the banks of the Narmada River in Nemwar has become a source of inspiration for farmers and agriculture students who visit the village to learn about farming with an eco-friendly approach.
Deepak Suchde, 65, who grows more than 135 crops – vegetables, fruits, spices, herbs and food grains – on the half-acre model farm in Dewas district, about 130km from Indore, has been training scores of people on farming without the use of chemicals or pesticides.
Students and agriculture experts from several countries, including Israel, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, have visited Suchde’s farm to study natural farming. More than 500 people visit the farm every year.
Sjef Mourmans, from the Netherlands, has this to say in his feedback: “My three-week stay (at the farm) was very interesting. In the last one year, I stayed in six farms but this is the first farm where really something can be learnt (sic).”
Suchde, a native of Gujarat, who spent decades in rural Maharashtra, says he moved to Madhya Pradesh in 2006 to set up the farm.
“Nothing is special in the farm except for the soil, which is not tilled or dug up,” Suchde says, asking visitors to smell the odour of the soil and feel its texture.
The biomass — leftover leaves and stems after a harvest — is crushed and mixed back with the soil at regular intervals to replenish it.
“It is clearly visible how a barren land was converted so green and self sufficient in biomass production. Deepak Suchde’s work is outstanding and it needs to be extended to all corners of the country,” says Ashok Patra, director of Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, which is affiliated to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
Ramesh Singh Chouhan, 42, who has 2-acre land in the same village, says he switched to organic farming after meeting Suchde.
“I came in contact with Suchde seven years ago. Now, I grow cereals and vegetables on my farm without using chemicals and so the input costs have come down while yield has gone up.”
In 2000, the International Forum of Organic Agriculture and Marketing invited Suchde to Zurich in Germany, to present a paper on the “role of nature in soil management and quality”.
His was one of 15 papers shortlisted by the organisers from more than 900 papers received from across the globe.