Natural Farming is a chemical-free alias traditional farming method. It is considered as agroecology based diversified farming system which integrates crops, trees and livestock with functional biodiversity.
In India, Natural farming is promoted as Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati Programme (BPKP) under centrally sponsored scheme- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY). BPKP is aimed at promoting traditional indigenous practices which reduces externally purchased inputs. It is largely based on on-farm biomass recycling with major stress on biomass mulching, use of on-farm cow dung-urine formulations; periodic soil aeration and exclusion of all synthetic chemical inputs. According to HLPE Report, natural farming will reduce dependency on purchased inputs and will help to ease smallholder farmers from credits burden.
The BPKP programme has been adopted in State of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala. Several studies have reported the effectiveness of natural farming- BPKP in terms of increase in production, sustainability, saving of water use, improvement in soil health and farmland ecosystem. It is considered as a cost- effective farming practices with scope for raising employment and rural development.
NITI Aayog along with Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers welfare had convened several high level discussions with global experts on Natural farming practices. It is roughly estimated that around 2.5 million farmers in India are already practicing regenerative agriculture. In the next 5 years, it is expected to reach 20 lakh hectares- in any form of organic farming, including natural farming, of which 12 lakh hectares are under BPKP.
1. National level consultation on BPKP-Natural farming- held on 29th & 30th September 2020
NITI Aayog held a two-day national-level consultation on the ‘Principles and Practices of BPKP (Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Padhati)-Natural Farming’, chaired by Hon’ble Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, from 29–30 September 2020 to foster an exchange of information on the potential and challenges in the adoption of natural farming in India. More than 600 participants—key officials from Central and state agriculture ministries and departments; vice-chancellors and agriculture scientists from SAU’s; subject-matter experts from ICAR; faculty of agriculture universities and institutions; Krishi Vigyan Kendras; ATARI centres; organizations and trusts/NGOs associated with BPKP; farmers’ associations; progressive farmers; representatives from FAO, UN and ICRAF and agri-entrepreneurs—attended the virtual consultation.
2. The meeting on Natural farming- way forward held on 9th October 2020
A follow-up meeting to the National level consultation on BPKP-Natural Farming (29th & 30th September 2020) was held on 9th October 2020 under the Chairmanship of Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog through virtual network. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the next steps in taking natural farming forward, including the collection of empirical evidence, scientific validations, preparation of success stories related to the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, etc. The participants included, Member, Agriculture, NITI Aayog, DG (ICAR), DDGs-ICAR, Addl. Secretary & officials from Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers welfare, Dy. Director General, ICRAF, representatives of State’s, KVK’s involved in up-scaling of Natural farming.
3. Lecture Series on Natural Farming
The Agriculture Vertical organized a virtual lecture by Dr Bruno Dorin—Senior Researcher and Head, Economics and Development, Centre De Sciences Humaines—on “Sustainable Agroecological Systems” on 18 November 2020. Chaired by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar, the lecture was attended by 71 participants—including Prof. Ramesh Chand, NITI Aayog Member (Agriculture) and Additional Secretary Dr Rakesh Sarwal; State Agriculture Secretaries; Deputy Director Generals, ICAR; and representatives of FAO, Scientists from State Agriculture Universities, and KVK officials involved in scaling-up of natural farming.