Between 29–30 September 2020, a national-level consultation on the “Principles and Practices of BPKP (Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati)-Natural Farming” was held by video conferencing. Natural Farming systems, which involve the usage of inputs available in the farm, support quality agricultural commodities, improve the livelihood of farmers, and posit a socio-economic sustainable farming practice. The consultation provided a platform for an informed exchange on the principles and practices of BPKP for the welfare of Indian farmers and consumers, and discussed long-term benefits of ground-level implementation on soil health, cost of production, environment, biodiversity, and production and quality of produce. Further, discussions were held on the potential of stray cattle bio-waste utilization and the management of BPKP- farming practices and integration with other rural development programmes.
Several dignitaries—such as Governor of Gujarat Shri Acharya Devvrat; Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomar; Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Shri Kailash Choudhary; NITI Aayog Member Prof. Ramesh Chand and CEO Shri Amitabh Kant; Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog Chairman Dr Vallabhbhai Kathiria; and Shri Kaadsiddeshwar Swami of Kaneri Math in Kolhapur, Maharashtra—attended the event and delivered motivating remarks.
More than 600 participants—comprising key officials from Central and state agriculture ministries and departments; vice-chancellors and agriculture scientists from state agricultural universities; subject-matter experts from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR); faculty of agriculture universities and institutions; Krishi Vigyan Kendras; ATARI centres; organizations and trusts/NGOs associated with BPKP; farmers’ associations; and progressive farmers and agri-entrepreneurs—participated in the consultation.
The two-day deliberation sought to devise ways to enhance farmers’ welfare along with ensuring sustainability, food security, environmental restoration and achieving SDG goals through Natural Farming practices. The technical sessions of the consultation were focused on national as well global perspectives, new approaches to sustainable farming systems, scientific impact evaluations, and potentialities for pan-India adoption of Natural Farming.
Participants from Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh shared success stories and experiences of BPKP. They said Natural Farming practices increased farmers’ incomes, soil fertility and resilience to extreme weather events, enabled savings on agri-inputs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions (30%). The subsequent improvement in soil fertility—with increased organic carbon (approx. 30%), enzymatic activity, improved biological indicators and nutrients content—also led to an increase in the quantity and quality of produce.
Large-scale impact studies have further shown yield improvements in paddy, Bengal gram, apple, and pomegranate, wheat, and chili crops. Also, studies have shown that there is considerable improvement in B:C ratio with the adoption of Natural Farming practices. A positive impact on social capital was also registered, with increased participation of women.