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Sadhguru Writes: Farmers Need Incentives, Not Teachings

The simple way to turn this soil extinction around is to provide incentives for every farmer in the world to improve the organic content in agricultural soil. (Photo: By Special Arrangement)

The simple way to turn this soil extinction around is to provide incentives for every farmer in the world to improve the organic content in agricultural soil. (Photo: By Special Arrangement)

It is very important to understand that farmers do not enjoy throwing fertilisers... They are throwing it because soil is in such a condition that if you do not put enough fertiliser, nothing will come out of it. So, do not go about advocating different types of farming

Soil is the very basis of life. The 12-15 inches of topsoil is the basis for 87% of the life on this planet, including ourselves. Plants, birds, animals, insects and worms — all thrive on the richness of the topsoil. But in the last 100-150 years, we have destroyed over 50% of this precious soil, which generates 95% of our food.

For any soil to have agricultural potential, it must have a minimum of 3-6% organic content. But 62% of India’s land has organic content of less than 0.5% and is on the verge of desertification. In northern Europe, the organic content is somewhere around 2%, and in southern Europe, it is a shade over 1%. In the United States, 30% of the topsoil is simply gone.

About 51 million square kilometers of land, which is over 50% of the usable land on the planet, is under agriculture right now. This is a land which human beings are tending to every day. So, this is the land we should first turn around, and it is possible to do it if we take the necessary steps. Either in the form of animal waste, plants, bushes, trees or whichever way, you need to put back organic content.

Leave Farming to Farmers

Immediately, people will jump the gun and say, “Let’s do organic farming”. They talk about these things because it is fashionable. But if you take away all the pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers from the planet today, global food production could come down to 25% of what it is right now. That will be the worst disaster you will unfold on the planet.

It is very important to understand that farmers do not enjoy throwing fertilisers. Fertiliser is very expensive. They are throwing it because soil is in such a condition that if you do not put enough fertiliser, nothing will come out of it. So, do not go about advocating different types of farming as if it is your religion or philosophy; farming is neither. It is just a practical solution to our requirements of nourishment.

Moreover, the farm economy is so fragile that if you try to make any sudden changes, the whole thing will collapse. Farmers are already struggling for their livelihood. So, it is not fair to expect a poor farmer to save the environment. The important thing is to enhance the richness in the soil and leave how to farm to the farmers.

Incentivise Farmers to Improve Organic Content

The United Nations agencies are saying that the planet has agricultural soil only for another 80-100 crops. That means we would run out of soil 45-60 years. If that happens, there will be a serious food crisis on the planet.

This is why, we have taken up the Conscious Planet – the Save Soil movement. As part of the movement, we are trying to touch 3.5 billion citizens across the world, to impress upon all political parties and governments to take to long-term soil regeneration policies.

Right now, the simple way to turn this soil extinction around is to provide incentives for every farmer in the world to improve the organic content in agricultural soil. Set up 3% organic content as a minimum average and provide a first level of attractive incentive for the farmers to aspire to get there. Industry and business can facilitate carbon credit systems as a second line of incentive for the farmers. The third level of incentive is recognition in the marketplace – food products grown in soil with minimum 3-6% organic content should find a different shelf and they will naturally get a better price. So, with these three incentives, we can drive ourselves in a direction where in 6-8 years’ time a minimum of 3% organic content should happen.

Why We Must Act Now

A time has come where we need to address soil and take corrective measures now. If we start now, in 15-25 years, there will be a significant turnaround. But let us say we wait for another 25-50 years, and then try to turn it around, they say it may take up to 200 years to turn around. And that period is going to be disastrous for human beings as a species.

Taking care of the soil, ensuring that desertification and degradation of soil richness does not happen is the most vital responsibility that we have as a generation of people. This one thing should be taken up as an express mission by every citizen, by every government of the many nations on this planet. Without ensuring the richness of the soil, we are in a way giving up on life. Please, let us make it happen.

Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and a New York Times bestselling author. He has been conferred the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India in 2017, the highest annual civilian award, accorded for exceptional and distinguished service.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.

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first published:June 23, 2022, 13:30 IST