Crop Connect Chronicles


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5 reasons why Sustainable Agriculture is good for the environment and you!

Tomorrow, June 5th is World Environment Day. Let us take you through the benefits of sustainable agriculture.

Sustainable agriculture, as the name suggests, is farming in such a way that the needs of the present generation are fulfilled with minimal damage to the environment and not adversely affecting the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.

All methods used in sustainable farming revolve around not harming the environment while making the optimum use of resources in the best possible ways. These methods include conventional practices like crop rotation and crop diversity, making use of renewable resources and innovative methods of better water management and integrated pest management. Various techniques like cover crops, soil enrichment, and natural pest predators are also under the umbrella of sustainable agriculture.

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According to an ongoing study at Iowa State University’s Marsden Farm research center, complex crop rotation systems can surpass conventional monoculture in both yield and profitability. (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists)

Let’s understand why it is important for us.

  1. Environment conservation:

The various methods involved in sustainable farming not only replenish the soil and makes it healthier but also protect other natural resources including water and air; thereby making sure that our future generations can make the best use of them.

  1. Reduction in pollution:

Lack or minimal use of synthetic chemicals in the form of pesticides and fertilizers results in lesser release of gases like nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. Moreover, all the waste produced on the farm stays there itself and is utilized­. Less emission of greenhouse gases means less damage to the ozone layer around the Earth, which protects us from harmful radiation.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agricultural land use contributes 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Industrial agriculture only increases this damage. (Source: IPCC Assessment Report)

  1. Healthy food for you:

Crops grown using sustainable farming are better due to the lack of residues of harmful chemicals used in pesticides like Metam sodium, Methyl bromide, Telone II and Chloropicrin. These can cause birth defects, nervous system and respiratory damage and can cause cancer. Moreover, the produce can be more nutritious owing to the overall healthier and natural methods of yielding crops.

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants highlighted that pesticides constitute 8 of the 12 most dangerous chemicals in the world. (Source: Persistent Organic Pollutants and the Stockholm Convention: A Resource Guide)

  1. Social and environmental impact:

Sustainable agriculture ensures better working and living conditions for the farmers. It also lets the livestock be in their natural environment, hence makes their lives better too. Moreover, you contribute your bit in doing something worthwhile for the planet by promoting this farming method.

  1. Biodiversity and healthy ecosystems:

The guardianship of biodiversity and employing it for mutual benefits is carried out by sustainable agriculture. A healthy ecosystem is guaranteed here as there is no harm to any organism and everybody flourishes together to create a balance.

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The advantages of sustainable farming are several. You can support sustainable agriculture by demanding for products produced using sustainable methods such as zero-budget farming, non-pesticide farming and organic farming. Let’s pledge on this World Environment Day that we all will do whatever we can to promote sustainable agriculture.

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Wannabe meets the Real Deal – farming in Uttarkhand part-1

We have a dream at CropConnect to have a farm of our own where we will grow food and make interesting value added products from it. So far all we have done is talk this dream to death without much action. Neither have we bought or leased a plot of land nor have we tried to grow anything in the urban space available to us.

Things they say happen when the time is right. For some reason events so transpired that I find myself currently in Uttarakhand for a farming internship over 5 days with a famous and progressive local farmer, Mr. Dayanand Joshi.

Mr. Dayanand Joshi is a progressive, organic farmer based in Govindpuri village. He has been recognized for the work he has done in farming over the course of his life. So much has been his interest in farming that he cross bred and developed a new variety of radish, each of which can weigh up to 15 kgs. Locals from far and wide line up to get the seed for his radish.

He is 75 years old, a widower and still practices active farming. As is common with most farmers in India today, not one of his 6 sons or 3 daughters is interested in farming. They have all been enticed by better paying big city jobs.

Dayanandji came to pick me up at a pre-decided time at a local tea stall and took me with him to his home which is nestled in the mountains and takes a good 25-30 minute uphill walk to get to. He is fit. And I am not. I was already panting by the time we reached his place and was so happy to hear that we will first sit and have tea.

My farming lessons started with an orientation of his farm. While he has a lot of land, increasing age and lack of interest from his children allows him to cultivate only about 1 acre of his land, using step-farming techniques. He is growing mainly vegetables like potatoes, carrots, radish, onions, garlic, pumpkins, spinach, fenugreek amongst others. His farm is also dotted with a variety of other trees and plants like walnuts, pomegranate, big cardamom, bananas and cinnamon. He also has a bunch of bhang (cannabis) plants growing wildly – not an uncommon scene in the Himalayas where the nutritious and non-hallucinating seeds of the plant are widely used to make chutney and other hemp products.

Dayanand Joshi does everything on his farm himself as he doesn’t have help from his family (even though one of his sons and the wife of another son with her 1.5 year old baby boy are living with him right now) and he doesn’t trust outside labour to do go a good job.

“Till there is life in my body and bones, I will keep doing farming”, he said while sipping tea and chewing tobacco.