An engineer of India’s Maharashtra state was awarded for his contribution to organic farming. Rajendra Bhat has reportedly utilised a five-acre, forest-like farm for growing 187 varieties of fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants.
Without knowing the prospect of recognition, he had bought the land, once considered infertile and unsuitable for farming, and turned it into a flourishing ecosystem. “Years ago, before I ventured into farming, I read one square metre of an area of a forest can yield more than two kilos of food naturally without using any external inputs. Whereas in a farm, the same area gives 600 gram despite adding artificial resources like chemicals,” he was quoted as saying by a storytelling site.
This is a success story based on how a man pursues an idea showing respect for knowledge developed by others. Not all will do so.
Such innovative farming is more relevant to a densely populated country like Bangladesh, which is losing almost 1.0 per cent farmland every year.
Bangladesh is also among South Asian countries that are creating future risks due to over-abstraction of groundwater sources, according to the Asian Water Development Outlook 2020. So, farming culture and urban water supply should focus on, what the report recommends as, ‘environmental restoration like wetland preservation, improved groundwater management, and increased riverine connectivity’.
However, organic farming, as part of environment-friendly economic activities, is mostly limited to a slogan. It’s also a common belief that such method of cultivation may prove to be ineffective ultimately in feeding the country’s growing population.
The alarming part of the practice is, as if research for increasing farm output is contrary to organic farming, whereas agri-scientists could have been encouraged to explore ways and means to increasing productivity by utilising and protecting, simultaneously, natural environment.
Engineer Rajendra Bhat had switched over to farming depending on research and thus challenged the modern notion of agriculture with excessive use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides.
Our farmers are not being told adequately to grow organic foods with higher productivity through proper management of soil. The policymakers look hesitant in asking researchers to promote cultivation methods that are not costly but effective in ensuring sustainable farming over the decades.
We’ve apparently accepted the reality of the loss of arable land every year, to allow urban and rural housing and accommodate industries and commercial establishments. Agro-ecological land zoning remains mostly on paper.
In fact, a more enthusiastic attitude is shown while acquiring land for purposes other than agriculture. There is no such policy emphasis on stopping unnecessary rural housing or reclaiming land for farming. Ambition, as seen in executing large infrastructure projects, is missing in undertaking a compact rural housing project to free farmland from non-agricultural use.
Admittedly, we have a lack of interest in carrying out research with an open mind and following research findings that demand entrepreneurial zeal. More than a few people find quid pro quo in their social inaction.
Thus, farmland depletion is considered to be a system loss caused by economic development and people’s higher purchasing capacity.
Why should we need to venture into risky projects when we’ve proven records of buying luxury cars with taxpayers’ money in the name of implementing development projects?
Be it over-capacity of electricity generation or higher toll on movement on roads and bridges, people are there to pay the price! In the worst-case scenario, examples of safe exit to second homes are not very few as well.
Manifold increase in costs of gigantic projects, swindling of bank money, hike in utility tariffs and surge in commodity prices, rent-seeking by favoured men and women, and alleged trade with recruitment can all be justified as the trend called new normal.
However, accumulated consequences of such acts may be unthinkable unless the prices are paid by at least one generation. Each of a generation is supposed to suffer only, when there is a collective fear of failure in experiment geared at bringing a change to life.