Farmers – the Backbone of our Nutritional Chain

Authored By : Srinidhi Rao

“The farmers are the founders of civilization.”

Daniel Webster

National Farmers’ Day, celebrated on December 23, is an ode to India’s former prime minister and ‘Champion of Indian Peasants’ Chaudhary Charan Singh. Mr Singh brought in reforms that revolutionized agriculture in India, and to this day, it reminds people of the importance farmers hold. Farmers ensure the provision of safe and healthy food on our plates. The importance of a farmer exemplifies the need to provide them with the latest technologies, equip them with knowledge and ensure their financial sustenance.

Agriculture is still predominantly practised in India as a primary source of income by a significant percentage of the population. The sector still contributes 15%-20% to the national GDP, irrespective of the changing trends towards the secondary and tertiary sectors. The movements held by the farmers, often supported by the masses, have led to timely changes in the industry standards and remuneration as well as technological changes. This ranges from increase in Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for crops to acquiring subsidies for latest technologies and required inputs. However, the harsh reality is that the majority of the farmers in India are micro land holders, i.e., they operate on a farm holding of approximately 1-2 hectares. The effects of this are observed in their lack of adaptation to mixed farming or latest forms of technology, which not only reduce the yield produced by their farm and their income but also reduce the nutritional value of the crop. While different measures and schemes have been rolled out to support the farmers through different means, such as the development of the Farmer Producer Organizations, an approach of duality must be followed to ensure farmer and crop benefits.

One way to ensure marginal farmer sustenance is the development of FPOs in the country, which ensure more efficient usage and provision of technology for modern agriculture. Another is the movement towards regenerative farming. Regenerative farmers have a significant impact on the type of food that goes on the plates of the people, with it becoming increasingly important as people are moving towards a more natural and regenerative lifestyle. The lack of chemicals and pesticides with which the crops are grown ensures that one gets adequate nutrients without the long-term impact on health.

The practice and disseminating knowledge of regenerative farming via training at WayCool serves a dual purpose with respect to its long-term goals and vision, i.e., improving rural livelihood and climate action. The practice of regenerative farming increases the yield of the crop, improves the nutritional value of soil and increases the income of the farmer to name a few of its overarching benefits. The WayCool OARS (Outgrow Agricultural Research Station) model farm not only engages in these practices firsthand, but also conducts training programs to spread the discourse pertaining to regenerative farming and its technicalities.

In the year 2021, 2,844 farmers have been contracted by WayCool’s Outgrow Programme, while 78 farmers have undergone training at the OARS model farm. Such regenerative practices of natural fertilizers, zero tillage, organic manure, cover crops, livestock integration, integrated nutrient management, soil testing, automated irrigation and more has ensured significant increase in crop yield while also making it a profitable and self-sustaining farm.