India’s backbone, the agricultural sector, is still heavily dependent on old and traditional style of farming. This has created a critical bottleneck for the desired growth of the industry. Along with this age-old problem, there are other issues such as the lack of capital, incomplete land reforms, and problems of proper marketing of the products.
These factors also are responsible for overall lesser agricultural production in the country than its potential. This is why agriculture here is not considered as a business but taken as a way of living for economically-deprived people. Fortunately, the younger generation of India has taken positive steps to reform the agricultural sector through education, modern technology, and innovation.
Akash Chaurasiya from Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, has come up with some new methods to improve crop health and overall growth of the agriculture sector. The 28-year-old is working for the last five years in agricultural management, natural farming, water management, organic farming, intercropping, and multi-layer farming. Using his organic farming techniques, the farmers are now earning about 10 times more than what they were earning before.
The Delhi government was also astonished at the change caused by Akash, a person without any formal degree in agriculture (he has only passed STD 12). Last July, Akash gave a presentation on his techniques in the Delhi Secretariat in front of IAS and IFS officers and agriculture scientists. Soon, a team of officials visited Sagar for training and the Delhi government has now decided to build eco-hubs in about 1,600 schools in the capital. Authorities want to transform these eco-hubs to agriculture hubs and reform the agriculture sector. The Delhi government has decided to adopt multi-layer farming method developed by Akash in the nurseries, science centers, and eco-hubs.
Their efforts have already made a difference and they successfully provided the right information regarding modern farming techniques to many of the farmers and trying to develop scientific means to cope with natural calamities.
The multilayer farming method allows the farmers to cultivate different types of crops in a single field in one season. In the farmhouse of Akash, up to five layers of farming have been done successfully. He used bamboo and cotton strings to build his farmhouse. The multilayer farming technique is particularly beneficial for smaller farmers having a lesser land area to grow crops. Akash also prepares natural manure in portable bags with the help of cow/buffalo dung and earthworms, thus promoting organic farming. He also developed an insecticide using 22 types of enzymes and 5 types of acid released by the earthworms and cow/buffalo dung. He identified and using 16 types of microelements found in cow/buffalo dung to increase the soil nutrient level that helps the crops to fight against malnutrition during the period of germination.
The family of Akash is associated with the traditional farming of betel leaves. Akash, who had a strong desire to become a doctor from his childhood, got admission in the M.B.B.S course after clearing the medical entrance examination. However, instead of becoming a doctor, he started learning the ways of crop cultivation and became the doctor of crops. He built a farmhouse on three acres of land and started working on developing methods to prevent loss of crops through malnourishment. Only 0.10 acres of the 3 acres land belongs to Akash and the rest of 2.90 acres has been taken on rent. The farmhouse is built with bamboos, grass, and other plant parts. Here ginger is grown under the ground, amaranth and indigenous papaya grown on top of the ground with kudrun hanging from them. The ginger takes 2 to 3 months to mature and during that time amaranth is grown on top which gets ready in 20-25 days. After amaranth, ginger is taken out and because of less supply of ginger during that time of the season, it gets a good price. In the same way, kudrun gets ready before the end of the summer months. The marketing of kudrun is over by the end of monsoon season and by that time the five-five feet tall papaya trees are seen full of fruits and ready to be marketed.
After getting success with this model, Akash shuffled the vegetables using potatoes underground followed by brinjal, bitter gourd, and papaya. This way running such sequence all through the year the same land can be used successively cultivating different vegetables. Moreover, this method ensures that there is no off-season, only the crops will change throughout the year. Akash started this process in 2011. Once he planted 12 varieties of tomatoes and some plants grew up to 14 ft tall, producing up to 32 kg of tomatoes in a single plant. Similarly, he used 12 varieties of brinjal and got about 16 kg of brinjal from one plant.
In another innovative idea, Akash introduced music to enhance production of organic compost using the earthworms. He found that the organic composts which usually take around 60 days to get ready are getting completed within 45 days if the earthworms are made to listen to good music all through the period. This surprising benefit of music is also evident through its positive impact on crop production. After making the crops listening to music the crops which usually take 90-days for production are getting ready in 70 to 75 days with a 25% increase in production.
According to Akash – Two hours of music in the morning and evening is enough for the good effect. It should be any classical music with good tunes and rhythm, but there should not be any word. It can also be used in the afternoon, but not all at night.
In a special dialogue with KenFolios, he said, Farming should be taken as an industry so that all of us can be healthy and prosperous. The farmer should also use more organic farming, innovative ideas, and technology to reduce the production cost thus increasing the profits. The farmers should also be involved in the development of agriculture policies.
In November 2014, he established the Advanced Agricultural Education Council through which new methods of agriculture are reaching to the farmers across the country. He has to prepare 42 farmhouses across the country and provided education to 42,000 farmers. He has delivered lectures in more than 20 universities of the country, including Banaras Hindu University, Shankaracharya University, Raipur, Jawaharlal Nehru Agricultural University and Sagar University.
Akash went to Delhi on July 12 after receiving an invitation from Dr. S.D Singh, the Chief Executive Officer of the Parks and Garden Society, Department of Environment, Government of Delhi. Akash gave a presentation on multilayer farming and Dr. Singh told Akash that he also provided a way of controlling the ever-increasing cost of vegetables in the market. Akash has also received seven national awards for his contributions to agriculture. These are National Patanjali Krishi Gaurav Award, Mahindra Prashruti Yuva National Award, Best Farmer Award, BioVed Institute, Allahabad, Maa Pratibhadevi Samman, National Swayamsiddh Award given by the Jindal Foundation. The Discovery Channel has also created a documentary on his model.
Never be the servant of the past, be the creator of the future – The vision of Akash changed the life of thousands of farmers across the country. His method wove a new dream among the farmers and redefined their future. Instead of getting frustrated, the youth need to look at the opportunities and create a vision. Akash decided to work in a struggling sector that really needed the focus of the younger generation.