The Green Revolution can easily be called as one of the milestones in the agricultural history of India. Spacing out from 1930s till the late 1960s, this technology used tools like artificial fertilisers, pesticides, and high yield crop varieties to increase the production of crops that helped feed a gigantic nation that was slowly moving towards starvation.
But merely half a century later, the country is backing off from the developmentally superior methods and tiptoeing back towards traditional farming.
Reeling from the effects of the Green Revolution, India has realised that while high agricultural yields through commercial farming methods might be a boon for a short span of time, it is definitely not a sustainable method of farming. Hence, each day more and more of our farmers are returning back to their basics of organic farming.
One should not mistake organic farming as simply one with the absence of synthetic fertilisers or pesticides. It is so much more than that. Organic farming replaces man-made chemicals with naturally found ones, but the onus of it is the focus on a wholesome, effective, and sustainable method of farming which is not overtly taxing on the people or the land.
The first shock of commercial farming hit India about 50 years after the Green Revolution. But the issues that came come made it amply clear that the problems had been simmering under the surface for quite some time now. Punjab, the state which flourished the most under the commercial farming methods; is also the state to report the highest number of cancer patients.
Apart from several health issues like premature aging, weakened bone structure, skeletal issues etc, there is also a severe threat to the health of the coming generations. And none of this happened overnight.
Commercial farming systematically ensured that it dug its claws deep into the throats of organic farming and the general health of the people. For starters, the high yield seeds consumed a lot of water – much more than was available through natural sources like rainfall. To supplement the need, borewells were dug and drilling continued within the farms to ensure constant water supply.
The other issue was the use of synthetic fertilisers like urea and phosphate. While these measures did make sure that farmers saw a 10% increase in the gross incomes within the first year itself making Punjab an economic powerhouse; it also made clear that the constant drilling and the contamination of the soil with the huge amount of chemicals threatened the water supply and adversely affected the health of thousands of people.
With research beginning to link the two, thankfully more and more farmers are trying to come out of the vicious cycle of chemical based farming. The initial years may be difficult is what most experts say. Farmers do not receive government subsidies, and there is no definitive shift; but the winds of change have started blowing strong.
Farmers are realising that if they stick to organic farming, the results will be fruitful, and more importantly long lasting. The water balance is slowly being restored and with money being saved from what was earlier being spent of chemical fertilisers, Punjab now has claim to over 1500 hectares of organic land. The government is also encouraging natural farming and we can only hope that the sweet fruits of this labour will be reaped in time.