About us  
1) I want to adopt organic farming but am confused as to which method I should select for my farm. Please advise me.
While there are many ways to farm organically, the methods that I advocate have been drawn from India’s ancient farming tradition and the folk traditions of farming communities in the Indian subcontinent.  Entire packages of practice have been developed for various kinds of  farms, be they fruit farms, spice gardens, paddy farms, vegetable farms or tea and coffee plantations. The emphasis of this approach is on self-reliance. If farm inputs are produced with materials that are present on the farm or available locally it means a huge saving for the grower in terms of  time, energy and transportation costs. “Becoming truly sustainable and self-reliant”  is the key mantra of my methods.
2) How long will it take for pesticide residues to be eliminated from my soil and from my crops?
With the methods I teach, pesticide residues can be eliminated from the soil and from the crops in as  little as six months of steady application. It all depends on how faithfully the methods taught are applied on the farm.  If application is sporadic then it will take longer for the residues to be eliminated. Each farmer’s experience will be different because the soil of each farm is different.
3) Will farming organically cost me more than the conventional methods I am using at present?
The methods I teach will not cost more then conventional methods. Over the long haul they will in fact cost much less. Initially some infrastructure may have to be installed such as putting up a  bio-gas plant for the  production of large volumes of manure in a short period of time. A few sheds may have to be put up, but these can be bamboo and thatch sheds.
4)I am a plantation owner. Can your organic methods be tailored to meet the needs of my plantation without burning a hole in  my pocket?
Yes, packages of practice have been developed for tea, coffee and  different spices. The organic methods taught by me are cost effective as they rely upon locally available materials thus cutting down on transport costs. Several tea gardens have adopted my methods with excellent results.
5) You are telling us to use cowdung manure but there are no cows or very few cows on my farm/plantation. What am I supposed to do?
Well, start keeping cows and bulls, local breeds as far as possible. I advise farmers to keep even old and unproductive cows and bulls on their farms just for  their dung and urine. This is called a “dung herd”. It is a cheap way of providing the raw material for many of the manures I teach.

Purchasing cowdung or manure works out to be expensive in the long run. Even if the cowdung is sourced for free, the cost of transporting it to the farm or plantation adds up over time. Therefore having your own cows on the farm or plantation is the best way of cutting down input costs.

Plantations can give cows to their workers and have the dung collected at various collection points. The workers will be happy to provide the cowdung to the plantation for  a small payment.
6) Can you give me a guarantee for increased production if I attend your workshop or invite you to conduct a workshop?
None. The monsoons pretty much dictate each year’s crop production in all countries that depend upon monsoon rain. Since the monsoon cannot be predicted with accuracy in advance despite advances in science and technology, how can I or anyone else give a guarantee to a grower?
7) I do not want to sell my farm’s produce in the wholesale market or to the middlemen.  Is there any way out for me?
Several metropolitan cities in India and now even some tier two cities have retail outlets for organic fresh fruits and vegetables that source directly from farmers. Mumbai and Delhi have vegetable box schemes which source directly from farmers. Since there is no middleman involved, the farmer gets a better price for his/her produce. Some organic wholesalers, retailers  and producer companies also source organic pulses, cereals, oilseeds and spices directly from the farmers. Organic restaurants have opened up in several cities and they source directly from small  farmers.

But if you are a medium or big farmer with more than 10 acres of farmland,  then going in for value addition or making some product from your organic produce could perhaps be an alternative route for you. You can go in for organic jaggery production using traditional methods if you are a sugarcane farmer for instance, or convert part of your rice into pressed rice flakes (poha/chidva). Organic red rice flakes fetch a handsome price in the market.
8) I have just bought one acre of land close to the city where I live and work. Can I be a weekend farmer?
Definitely. If your choice of crops and your water management system is planned wisely you can be a successful weekend farmer. You may just have to visit your farm on a weekday as well if  there is an emergency. Of course you will have to keep a watchman to guard your farm against theft and pillage or keep a landless family that can stay in a mud hut and keep an eye on your farm.
9) The groundwater levels in my area are dropping sharply each year. Is there an alternative to borewell irrigation/flood irrigation for my farm?
Rainwater harvesting is an absolute must for you. You can also dig a small or a big pond, which will provide for your irrigation needs partially and also improve the groundwater levels on your farm.

Several states offer a handsome subsidy on drip irrigation. But in areas where the power supply is erratic, drip irrigation will not work.

If you are a small farmer with less than five acres of land in an arid or semi-arid zone then pitcher irrigation is a low cost alternative to flood irrigation for you. Vegetables and trees respond very well to pitcher irrigation.
10) Would you advise me to plant an exotic species like acacia mangium or jatropha on my farm? If not, then why so?
Crops like acacia mangium and jatropha are exotic meaning that they are not local to the area where they are being planted. Their long term effects upon the local flora and fauna are not known. While crops like these are being touted as “get rich quick” options, I would say be wary and stick to crops whose long term effects upon the environment are known.  Exotic crops can lead to environmental  imbalances and this may manifest as sudden, large scale pest attacks or disappearance of bees and other pollinating agents in the area or other occurrences. You would not be able to live in peace if this were to happen in your area, as a result of your planting exotic hardwood trees or cash crops. So consider well before taking such a step.
Now that the long term effects of eucalyptus plantation upon ground water levels have become well known, it is no longer being encouraged in India. But groundwater levels have been severely depleted in various areas where eucalyptus was planted in the past decades by the govt. or by farmers themselves. Many farm communities are still reeling from the after effects of this  groundwater depletion.
Oilseeds like jatropha and jojoba  have not done well in India. Govt. sponsored schemes for these crops have been used to grab fallow land and that’s about it.
It is alright to experiment with exotic vegetables as these are short term crops, and if they do not work out in your area you can drop them in the next season. In fact the Indian govt. has encouraged research in exotic vegetables and several ICAR research institutes and stations have developed new varieties of broccoli, chinese cabbage, passion fruit etc.
11) Can you tell me about the salient features of your organic farming methods in a nutshell?
I tell my clients to convert to organic production section by section. For instance, if your farm is 100 acres, convert only 20 acres to organic production first, then another 20 acres, then another 20 and so on.

I am in strong favour of keeping deshi cows of local breeds. We use their dung and urine to make powerful biofertilizers and biopesticides.  If you are keeping only buffaloes even then I recommend that you start keeping a few local cows.  Keep old cows and bulls which will be sent to the butcher otherwise.  In return for some straw and water they will give you valuable dung and urine.   Respect GOMATA and she will bless you with prosperity and plenty. I believe in this firmly.  Buffalo dung and urine is not of much use to us.

Weedicides and herbicides ruin the soil.  We use the weeds to make a rich liquid manure.  We regard the weeds not as our enemies but as our friends. Plantations can carry out periodic sickling of weeds.

I advocate that all farmers should make their own farm inputs on the farm itself.  Try to purchase as little as possible from the market. Only then will your organic farm be sustainable. Buying expensive neem products or expensive organic manures from the market is unsustainable. You will not be able to run your farm along organic principles for very long if you do so.

I am in favour of local and low cost technology.  For instance, use a team of oxen to plough your fields.  This will provide local employment, save our bulls and also improve the farm’s soil. Oil reserves are going to run out on planet earth within the next 20-30 years. WHAT WILL YOU DO THEN? Indian farmers will have to return to traditional methods then by sheer necessity. It is better to be prepared for such an eventuality by keeping good bulls and oxen on the farm.  Try to use traditional bullock carts if possible.  No, I am not joking, I am perfectly serious about this!

A gobar gas plant is a simple structure and the good news is that KVIB/KVIC gives subsidies for installing it. You will have to get the details from your local KVIC office.  They have a quota system etc.  for giving the subsidies.  I use a gobar gas plant to produce vast quantities of rich liquid manure within 5-6 days.  A four cubic metre gobar gas plant is sufficient for 50 hectares. It costs about Rs. 20-25,000.

The prices of petrol and diesel have increased and will continue to increase.  Therefore try and cut down on transport costs.  Try to source materials as close as possible to your farm.  Do not be fooled by brand names.

I believe in explaining  my methods to the farm workers, especially the permanent  workers that live on the farm itself.  They are the ones who will eventually have to produce the farm inputs and if they understand what is to be done and how it is to be done, the better it will be for all concerned. Once they get the hang of things they will come up with their own ideas for improving things.  The owner/manager of the farm has to give some leeway to the permanent farm staff and respect their intelligence.

Organic food and farm products are good and there is a growing demand for organic products in the big cities.  Therefore start creating linkages to retailers of organic products in the nearest big city to your location.  Wholesalers usually do not give a good price.  I can guide you a little about the retailers to contact in your area.

If it is possible  for you to go in for value addition to your farm produce please begin the process right away. A value added product will always fetch a higher price.
12)You are telling me that organic farming will not make me rich overnight. So why should I go in for organic farming in the first place?
Although, organic farming will not make you rich in the monetary sense overnight, it will enrich you in other undreamt of ways. By making a decision to adopt organic farming you are in fact taking the first step towards respecting Mother Earth and Nature. By producing healthy crops your family and your customers will enjoy good food and good health. Your farm animals and farm workers will also be healthier and the environment as a whole will benefit from your lower carbon footprint. You will be doing your bit to slow down global warming and climate change. Over and above all you will enjoy peace and contentment from farming organically, which is priceless!

Always remember that organic farming is a way of life, not a “get rich quick” gimmick.