“Pawan guru, pani pita, dharti mata (sun is the master, water the father, earth the mother),” a proud Rajbir Singh recites as he shows around Bhagat Puran Singh Farm in Dheerkot, 60km from Jalandhar. “We don’t use any fertilizers, pesticides or chemicals,” he says.
“And we don’t buy anything from the market. We use whatever is available here… That’s why we are zero-budget.”
The 32-acre farm at Dheerkot is a “zero-budget natural farm”, perhaps among the first in the region, which boasts of not spending a penny from sowing to reaping.
Singh believes “mother earth” provided everything and there was no need to spray crops with “harmful” fertilisers and pesticides. “Have you seen a jungle? Does anyone sprinkle or spray fertilisers or pesticides there? No, everything grows naturally. That is the best example of natural farming,” he says.
The Bhagat Puran farm instead uses ‘jeev amrit’, ‘beej amrit’ and ‘agni astar’ — all made of cow dung, cow urine, jaggery, pulse dough and water.
“Don’t confuse it with organic farming, it is altogether a different practice,” Ranbir, the farm in-charge, he says, his sighs interrupting as he rues how humans had destroyed nature.
‘Solution’ to rising farmer suicides
Rajbir has been involved in natural farming for the past 10 years, when the concept was new.
“It was Subhash Palekar, an Indian agriculturist and Padma Shri awardee who actually told the country about this practice, came here in 2006 and told us the details… he said fertilisers and pesticides were destroying us slowly and explained how the technique would prove fruitful,” he recalls.
Since then, the farm has come a long way to its ‘natural’ success. Today, the road leading to Dheerkot is lined with signboards appealing people to shun all chemicals used in farming. And more and more farmers have started to adopt the technique.
Ranbir believes the practice could be a remedy to farmer suicides. “This is the beauty of this farming, the farmers will not have to buy anything from the market.”