Ancient Indian farming technique picks up in mango belt

July 5th, 2008 - 2:14 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rajat Rai
Unnao (Uttar Pradesh), July 5 (IANS) Four years ago, when a Lucknow-based horticulture institute floated the idea of homa-farming, cultivators in the mango belt of Kakori and Malihabad adopted it in droves. While most of them gave it up to return to agro-chemicals, having little patience to wait any longer, one odd man stuck it out - practising this ancient Indian farming technique based on the Vedas.

Today Ramesh Chandra Tiwari, a petty farmer in Unnao district, 60 km from the state capital, is reaping the benefits and is thankful to the Central Horticulture Sub-tropical Research Institute (CHSRI) for giving him the idea.

The yield has kept increasing year after year on his 12-bigha mango orchard and there are none of the usual pests to be found near the trees in the mango belt of Kakori and Malihabad, over 25 km from the city.

“The method is an age-old phenomenon invented in India and is described in detail in the Rig Veda,” Tiwari, who has been appointed as an expert by the CHSRI to teach this method to others, told IANS.

He is today a veritable port of call for many a farmer and agricultural scientist from not just the country but also abroad.

“Besides farmers from neighbouring areas, I have also imparted training to people from Austria, Australia, Turkey, the United States, Spain and other countries,” said Tiwari.

The term ‘homa’ is derived from the ancient Hindu practice of performing ‘yajna’ or ‘havan’ - by lighting a ritual fire and putting various things in it amid the chanting of Vedic mantras. Homa farming, Tiwari said, is a mix of performing havans and administering organic fertiliser to the crop.

“Homa agriculture is a scientific method which lays emphasis on fumigation of the atmosphere, an important factor to keep your crop healthy and save it from ailments,” R.K. Pathak, principal advisor in the National Horticulture Mission, told IANS on phone from Delhi.

Pathak is a regular visitor to Tiwari’s farm along with foreign visitors. He has also severed as a senior scientist at the CHSRI.

The process begins early morning with a havan. The ingredients put in it are cow dung, raw rice and other conventional items that are treated as sacred by the Hindus.

“This makes the atmosphere pure and soothing before the day begins,” said Tiwari.

Green manure, mulching, compost, vermicompost, vermiwash and biosol, among others, make up for the organic sprays and fertiliser used after the prayers.

“The sprays consist of the ashes that remain after the havan and the fertiliser - green manure and vermicompost - are prepared using a mix of green leaves, water and cow dung,” explained Tiwari.

“They are then left to decompose for over 20 days. Earthworms are also dumped in the preparation as they are very effective in preparing organic sprays and fertiliser,” explained Tiwari.

There is no trace of the pests and insects that usually flock mango trees in peak season and destroy a major portion of the crop in this belt.

“I was very much influenced by the idea after I saw it during a visit to India a long time ago. Now, I am travelling across the globe, including India, to propagate this ancient and rich Indian art of agriculture,” Karin Heschl, an Austrian, told IANS on phone from Maharashtra.

She is currently in a farmhouse in that state, busy installing the resonance point - a place which receives the first and last rays of the sun at dawn and dusk and where the havan is performed.

Said Tiwari: “When I took up homa farming in 2004, I could hardly break even and my initial investment was high. But it was a one-time amount, and now my costs are meagre - on sprinkler vehicles and labour. The profit is increasing every year.”

Only last month, he organised a fair in his mango farm and invited interested farmers, besides scientists and visitors from around the globe.

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