TIRUPATI: Discussions on profitable natural farming methods took centre stage on the concluding day of the ‘Gau Maha Sammelan’ here on Sunday.The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) organised the two-day ‘Sammelan’ to promote cow-based natural farming practices in the State. The conference attracted several farmers and people interested in the natural way of farming by shunning chemical-based agriculture.
The ‘Gau Panchagavya’ stalls set up by the SEVA Organisation founder and natural farmer, Vijay Ram, and Yuga Tulasi Foundation brought the natural farming practices to the fore at the ‘Sammelan. ‘While the Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) has proved to be cost-effective and promised better returns, some farmers raised apprehensions over the demand for natural farm produces and their markets, besides the quantity of the yield.
“We usually cultivate chickpea, chilli, and black gram in our region. I came here to learn about natural farming techniques. Although natural farming methods have been tried and tested in several areas, uncertainty still prevails over if the yield would bring the desired results to the farmer,” a 66-year-old farmer, Chandrasekhar Reddy, from Kurnool, said.
S Narayanappa, a 60-year-old farmer from Kuppam in Chittoor, however, differed. He felt despite getting lesser yield, the price of natural farm produces have been on the higher side. Using natural fertilisers and pesticides have environmental benefits as well.“I cultivated paddy using Jeevamrutha, a mixture of cow dung and urine, this kharif season. The input cost has been low since all fertilisers used are naturally prepared,’’ he said.
He added that chemical-based farming and fertilisers degraded the soil structure and formation, besides destroying bio-diversity. “To restore the soil and to check environmental pollution, I have shifted to natural farming,’’ he added. On the low yield, the sexagenarian argued that the farmer got better prices, at times 50 per cent higher than from the regular paddy cultivated using chemicals. “Perhaps, there is a huge demand for these products as they are chemical-free and healthy,” Narayanappa said.
To tackle the low-yield problem due to natural farming methods and to increase the farmers’ income, Venkat Ram of SEVA said the revenue could be doubled, and one could earn up to `1 lakh an acre by intercropping papaya, turmeric, drumsticks and ginger with paddy.Earlier, at the inaugural session of the ‘Sammelan,’ TTD Chairman YV Subba Reddy informed the TTD would procure naturally-grown organic products from the State’s ZBNF farmers for preparing Lord Sri Venkateswara Naivedyam and Prasad.