Saturday, September 24, 2011

Meeting of some people related to One Straw Revolution

I was lucky to met some of the people related to one straw revolution and here are some details about it. Here is the experience of meeting some such people..

The first book which I read on organic farming was 'Urvarathayude Sangeetham' (Song of fertility) by K.V.Dayal. This book mentioned about Masanobu Fukuoka and internet search gave me details about One Straw Revolution. I picked up the malayalam version of One Straw Revolution called 'Ottavaikkol viplavam' from Altermedia Trichur. This book gave a good understanding about natural farming and talks about general philosophies about life and concludes that the farmer's life is simple and rewarding. The way Fukuoka experimented and reached the 'Do nothing' farming was quite interesting. I felt that these are the kinds of books which will interest me.

In one of the visit to Palakkad looking for a land, was talking about 'Ottavaikkol viplavam' (malayalam translation of 'One straw revolution') and friend's  father mentioned that he has read this book long back and he knows the person who had translated it, his name was C.P.Gangadharan from a place called Chengaloor which is just 5KMs away from my house. I searched in the BSNL web site and could get the phone number of  C.P.Gangadharan.

I called C.P.Gangadharan and when I introduced he asked where I had done my schooling and he was a malayalam teacher in the same school. I couldn't recollect him, I had studied sanskrit in school instead of malayalam. I checked with my sister who had done schooling from the same school and she remembered him well and finally from the descriptions I also could get him. Later went and met him and was interesting to hear his experiences with the translation, his friendship with Partap Agarwal and his experience of meeting Fukuoka when he had come to Pondicherry Aurobindo Ashram. He also talked about his experiments with natural paddy farming where he had put the seeds in the field using a stick. His experiment had failed since rats came and destroyed the crop since there was no standing water. But he was practicing natural farming in his small farm. He also mentioned about some one experimenting with rice with cowpea so that cowpea crowd out grass.

C.P.Gangadharan master at his home

                                          C.P.Gangadharan master at his farm

From Gangadharan master I came to know about Partap Agarwal who had taken initiative to bring 'One straw revolution' to India. Came to know that he is part of Navadarshanam ( and got his number. Called him and he was staying in whitefield, Bangalore and just about 4-5KMs away from where I was staying in Bangalore. Met him at his house in white field and came to know about his activities and Navadarshanam.

According to him all the civilizations were found under sand and the reason is that even though there were doing organic cultivations the land is depleted and ultimately it turns to sand. There were lot of buildings, drainage systems in the old civilizations but it finally gets destroyed. As hunter-gatherers there was no impact on ecology and people do work for just 2 hours and there is sufficient food. The solution to this is Natural farming and we should not till the land. Rishi’s used to live on fruits and vegetables and the grain was stored for emergency situations. Rishi’s also never used to till the land.

                                   With Paratap Agarwal

On a US visit to San Fransisco just checked in the internet to see if I can contact Larry Korn. Larry Korn was one of the translators of One straw revolution to English and also introduced Fukuoka to other parts of world. He has stayed in Fukuoka's farm for one and half years. Got his email ID from the web and sent him a email and also talked to him over the phone. I was staying in Town place suites , Marriot in Newark and he was at a driving distance from my hotel. He was eager to meet me and he came to the hotel in Newark and I was thrilled to meet him. My colleague Rohit also was with him and both of us chatted with him for about an hour.
                                                With Larry Korn

In the college Larry had studied soil science, once a professor came and he was in bad mood. He said he will talk about agriculture and was telling that tilling causes gases to be released, soil fertility gets reduced. But he was indicating that, even though tilling is a problem no solutions were found.

Larry traveled to Japan after his studies and was working with his Japanese friends in their farm. He learnt agriculture, rice farming there and he heard about Fukuoka’s farm and visited. On the first day, he was looking at his rice field, and paddy was much shorter and it was fully green, with lot more grains on it. Fukuoka was 60’s that time and fully energetic. He asked Lary if he has seen such rice and he said the field is not ploughed for 25 years and still getting the yield of other farmers.

Fukuoka had seen that the grains falls from the paddy naturally and then the new seeds come after a season. From this he got the idea of how nature farms. He grows the clover which has the roots spread on the surface and does not allow the weeds to come on, while rice roots grow much inside. If you mulch in packed form, the seeds may not germinate while in scattered form it germinates well.

In the citrus orchard, the weeds they used to cut it with sickles and control. The mud hut was without doors and a fire place in the middle where people cooks food, and then they use some mats for sleeping. Chickens will be going around and water used to bring from a nearby well. Along with Larry there were another 10 interns, but he was the only American at that time. Fukuoka approached many publishers to publish his books and no one was ready for that. In 1970’s there was a big oil crisis and there were big queues.. During this time one publisher came to publish his book..He has written many articles to local newspapers and he later compiled this articles into the book called as OneStrawRevolution. During the tour in US, there were multiple enquiries on whether to publish the book in different languages and Fukuoka never bothered about the royalty and was ready for publishing it. During his visit to Washington, Partap Aggarwal came to meet him to publish the book in Hindi. Larry had met him ..

As per the Japanese tradition the eldest son is supposed to take care of the ancestral property and in Fukuoka’s case also it happens like that. Many years they lived in the hut and when he got old, he moved to the house in the village which was half a mile away.

He had been to Nevada city and he was indicating that the bushes found over there are actually helping the land to recover and people were surprised by these thoughts. Also in some part of US, they consider white clover as a weed while Fukuoka told them that he loves white clover and it is natures gift to improve the soil.

Also Fukuoka felt that no need to plant the local trees and any tree which grows in that area should be fine if nature decides that. What is more important is having trees.

According to Fukuoka observe the nature and do the cultivation as the nature prefers and don’t try to control the nature. When you scatter a set of seeds, nature will select the best seeds and allow that to grow it.. Similarly you closely watch the nature without prior knowledge and then learn..

Japanese spiritual leaders give some very difficult questions to the students which actually does not have any answer. They think, and think and finally they realize things exists beyond their intellect and then they get answer for that which in turn is an approach to god.

Fukuoka suggested that the bomber planes will be the ideal ones to be used for sowing the seedballs in the desert.

Japan is about the same size of California and has 120 million people while California population is 20 million. In cities, everywhere you can see people, totally crowded but crime rate is very less. Typically people follows all the rules as rituals and these are built into their tradition.

According Larry Korn, people in US are very scientific and hence natural farming does not suit them. But India is spiritually oriented and hence it will pick up here.

As per Fukuoka it is god who had given him the message of natural farming, and the only credit he takes is that he took it to the world. Similarly Larry came to know about Fukuoka and after seeing it he felt he should take the message to the world.

Came to know that Santhosh Koulagi had translated 'One Straw Revolution' to Kannada and he is based in Mysore.
                       Santhosh Koulagi with my family - Sindhu,Sharika and Hariprasad

Called Santhosh on previous day and he was very pleased for me to visit the place. His place is Melkote and his new village is Ramapura, 6Kms away from Melkote. The trust has another farm which is 30 acres. His farm is around 10 acres now.

He was doing E&E in engineering and in the final semester he happened to read One straw revolution and he quit his studies and stayed in the 30 acres farm alone. Then he translated One straw revolution to kannada.. He was with his father’s trust for long time and recently moved to his own place.

In the trust farm, there is a house and a small factory and also a round hall where various activities can be held. They train people in weaving clothes, now the factory was shut down.

The farm has coconut, mangoes, some other trees, avara kai (amara payer – bushy type) etc. There is a cow shed where cattles are kept. The coconut trees gives reasonably good yield, 100 coconuts per year, while national average is only 32. He has mulched using coconut leaves, etc..but since the climate is very dry, not much humas can be seen. The rain is only 450mm and he says they can only grow mainly trees.

Mango orchard is ploughed at some places, but he says tilling can be easily avoided in orchards, but not in paddy.Avarai, horse gram is very drought resistant crops, they just need moisture for germination, but otherwise don’t require much water.

He also makes compost and then applies it… he says mulching is good, but there are not enough material to mulch.

His farm is 10 acres and there is about 5 acres of paddy. He uses Rajamudi (small white rice), Selam Sannai (red rice) and another two varieties. All the variesties are long one and produces enough straw for the cows. He keeps the seeds by himself. For 5 acres paddy, he had spent around 30,000/ and he will get the return of 75,000/-. They have an association of 10 organic farmers and they sell the products through outlet in mysor.

For green manuring horse gram is better than daincha since horse gram is a mild one with one watering it will decompose, while daincha is a very hardy bush. He uses SRI method of cultivation and used 9” gap between paddy and instead of the 4” gap in conventional system. Also he has used direct seeding and has put 2 or 3 seeds in one point. The place where he stays, there is more water from ponds etc. compared to the farm which belongs to the trust. He also cultivates, beans, onion etc..  In fields they use horse gram as cover crops..He is doing SRI in some place as an experiment and next time he is planning to return the straw back to the field. He maintains cattle for milk and also for ploughing the field.

He had attended the class of Subhash Palekar, he says subhash is giving ready made formula and that is why people are interested. He also indicates, Subhash and Krishnappa makes false allegations that in 2 years they can do wonders, which is not possible. According to him, there were people earlier promoting organic farming but they didn’t succeed much, because of lack of formulas. If people find something useful they will adopt it, like mobile phone, farmers are intelligent for that.

His banana field has completed two years and now the Ratoon crops are not going good. So he is planning to replant it….He says, Subhash palekar indicates that ratoon crops can go year after year…