There are two types of people in this world : those who produce the type of items used by human beings on a daily basis, and those who use these items. The people who are involved in the process of production, are naturally, more important than those not involved in production. Farmers produce cereals, vegetables, fruits, etc., to fill the stomachs of the entire world, so it is only fitting that they are also known as “Annadatas” (providers of food). But the way in which our Governments is ignoring farmers, often compelling them to commit suicide, then in the days ahead, it is logical to conclude that the lives of those dependent on their produce might be in danger. The way in which the Government is determined to destroy the fertile lands of the farmers, the way they are selling the lands of the farmers at a cheap price and giving it to build industries, there is bound to be a scarcity of cereal producing lands in coming times. Moreover, with the coming of new chemical fertilisers in the market on an almost daily basis, the farmers have started using these fertilisers extensively and this has started to affect our health. It is because of this reason that we come to hear about new diseases on an almost daily basis. Apart from this, the excessive usage of chemicals has started reducing the fertility of the soil. It is quite obvious that farmers who have always depended only on their lands throughout their life, would never want that fertile land to turn barren one day and drive them to death, along with their families, because of lack of food. It was in this scenario that the Morarka Foundation placed the option of organic farming
before the farmers of the country, and a new ray of hope lit up their lives.
The speciality of the hydroponic technique is the minimal usage of water. To produce one kilo of vegetables on a farm, 1800 to 3000 litres of water is required, but with the help of the hydroponic technique we can produce one kilo of vegetables with the usage of just 15 litres of water.
The Morarka Foundation started organic farming from the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. In terms of area Rajasthan is the biggest state inIndia, but one third of its 3,42,239 square kilometres is a desert area. Some parts are a semi-desert area, where the farmers need to struggle to eke out a livelihood, mainly because of a deficiency of water, quite apart from the unfriendly soil. But all this is changing as the scientists associated with the Morarka Research Foundation are giving training to the farmers of Rajasthan on how to use a minimum amount of water to produce a maximum amount of crops. They are teaching them the lessons of farming with the help of hydroponic technique, tray cultivation, drip system etc. Let us see how the farmers are getting the benefits from these techniques.
The main attribute of the hydroponic technique is that vegetables are grown without soil and with minimal amount of water. As there is no usage of soil in this, there are no weeds either nor is there any fear of insects harming the plants. This technique is quite unique — you do not need a farm for growing whatever you want. In fact, if you are staying in any city then you can produce vegetables even on the top of your roof very easily. Countries like Indonesia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Korea and Japan are also keen to use this technique more extensively. There is no requirement of making a seed plot and giving water to the plants in this technique, so there is less labour and expense too. With the help of the hydroponic technique, continuous yields can be had and all vegetables can be produced irrespective of any season. Along with it there is less wastage of water and agri inputs. This technique is more effective for vegetables with leaves. The speciality of the hydroponic technique is the minimal usage of water. To produce one kilo of vegetables on a farm, 1800 to 3000 litres of water is required, but with the help of the hydroponic technique we can produce one kilo of vegetables with the usage of just 15 litres of water. If the success of this technique can be sustained, it will prove to be a boon not only for our country, but for farmers all over the world.
Another technique of producing more vegetables using minimal water and minimal amount of soil is tray cultivation. By this technique, vegetables are produced by keeping soil in a plastic tray. High quality vegetables can be produced at a very cheap cost. For this, firstly a green net and jute should be spread all over the tray and Vermi compost put on it, and then treated seed or plants put in. After this, agri inputs and nutritional factors should be spread in the tray from time to time. This technique is more beneficial for the production of those vegetables which we use in our daily life, like tomatoes, chili, brinjals, lady’s finger, bitter melon, cucumber and beans etc. All these vegetables can be produced within one and a half inch of soil very easily. With this method only 30 to 70 litres of water is required to produce 1 kilo of vegetables. The use of insecticides is not required in this, because by putting a net on top of the tray, insects cannot harm the vegetables. The crop circle is also not required in this method, because with the completion of produce of one vegetable, another vegetable can be placed for production. In tray cultivation, you need not wear the clothes of a farmer — you can produce vegetables on the balcony of your house wearing a suit and a tie!
Obviously, by telling farmers about organic farming, the scientists of the Morarka Foundation have given them a new life. The most important wish of farmers is to produce more and more quantities of cereals or other produce and ensure at the same time that the fertility of his land is also retained. The most negative aspect of farming through use of chemicals is that there is a higher produce for some time but the soil also starts losing its fertility at the same rate. Now the farmers have found a solution for this with the help of organic farming. The scientists of the Morarka foundation teach farmers how to prepare manure themselves in their own fields in a natural style. This includes the methods of making vermi compost, herbal manure, herbal spray, Jeevamrit and compost.
Vermi compost is a manure in which a special genus of earthworm — acinia foetida, after consuming cow dung and garbage, excretes tea like brown coloured feces. This is known as vermin compost. To prepare this sort of manure with the help of earthworms, water and shade are required. At the very beginning, a shaded area upto 6 to 8 feet in height is prepared. A very dense tree can also work to keep the appropriate temperature and shade. After this a 10 feet long, 3 feet wide and 1 to 1.5 feet high bed in a clean place has to be prepared. After the bed is made, the surface should be kept wet and then weeds up to a height of 2 to 3 inches in it should be put in it. After this, 10 to 15 days old dung should be put in the bed up to a height of 1 to 1.5 feet. Fresh dung should not be put on it. You can also put the garbage of the kitchen and farm on this bed. Then water should be sprinkled on the bed, so that it becomes completely wet. Then after 2 to 3 days, acinia foetida species worms should be put in the bed and adequate amount of water as per need should be sprinkled every day. To examine the wetness, mixture is taken from the bed and made into a ball. After pressing this ball shaped mixture, if the hands do not get wet and water does not come out of the mixture then it means that the wetness of the bed is not correct. If the hand does not become wet then water should be sprinkled immediately, otherwise the worms might die. This dung and garbage is converted into manure within 45 to 50 days by the worms, which look like tea leaves. The usage of this vermi compost on the farm neutralises harmful organisms like fungi and bacteria. There is an unexpected increase in the soil water retention capacity and nutritional elements also become available for the plants.
Herbal manure has the capacity of controlling insects and diseases along with maintaining the fertility of the soil. To make this manure, herbal dung, neem, leaves of oleanders and datura, wood apple and fruits are used. To prepare this manure, a pit or a tank is made. The length should be 6 feet, breadth should be 3 feet and height should be 3 feet. You can also make a pit or a tank as per your comfort and ability. After this, 18 day old dung along with neem, leaves of oleanders and datura, wood apple and fruits should be mixed and put in the tank. The tank or pit should then be filled with water. After 15 days, they should all be mixed together and if there is a necessity of water then some water can be added again. After 80 to 90 days, when the water of the tank or the pit dries up, the manure should be taken out and kept to dry outside for 15 days. After this, it is ready to be used as manure. With the addition of this herbal manure to land, the invasion of insects and termites can also be prevented.
Farmers often take the help of chemical sprays to kill insects which attach themselves to their crops, and this has a negative effect on whoever consumes such chemically treated produce. To produce healthy fruits and vegetables, the scientists of the Morarka Foundation have taught the farmers how to make herbal spray. To make this spray, collect cow urine in a drum and then make a paste by grinding onion, ginger, garlic, green chili, neem, datura, leaves of oleander and papaya and then mix them in the drum. After an interval of 5 to 6 days, stir the mixture with a stick. In this way, herbal spray is prepared within 40 to 50 days. This can be sprinkled or sprayed in the field or wherever required after every 20 days.
Jeevamrit is a spray which increases produce and also increases the fertility of the soil. To make this spray, cow dung, cow urine, jaggery, the soil beneath a plum tree, gram flour and water are used. To begin with, 50 to 60 litres of water are put in a cement drum and then 10 kilos of fresh cow dung is mixed and stirred, so that the dung mixes properly with water. Then 5 to 10 litres of cow urine and one kilo of soil taken from beneath the plum tree is put in the drum and again mixed properly. After this 2 kilos of pieces of jaggery and 2 kilos of gram flour are put inside the drum and again stirred properly. This mixture is then covered with a cloth and stirred after every 3 days, 8 to 10 times in a clockwise direction. The mixture prepared in this manner is put in 200 litres of water and used in a farm land of one acre.