Kailash Murthy quit his job as a banker to start practicing farming in 1984. In following four years, he recognized the harmful effects of chemicals and since then, he has been practicing natural farming – for 30 years. His 22-acres field is a great example of a forest ecosystem with more than 3000 trees and all kinds of plants, including mango, banana, val beans and a wide number of herbs.
Murthy founded the Academy of Natural Farming near Kollegal in South India, researching on the benefits of natural and sustainable farming and focusing especially on the raising awareness in the youth. He has been working on solar energy resources as well.
After reading articles about him, we have contacted Murthy and he responded sincerely and quickly to us. Below you can read the interview that we have conducted with him via e-mail, in April 2017.
Can you talk about yourself, your practices until today and the current state of your fields, for those who are not familiar?
Between 1984-88 I was practicing chemical farming. Within a span of 4 years I observed a lot of changes with respect to plant growth, soil fertility and pest control. My land fertility started to deplete, plants started to demand more pesticides and fertilizers, and the productivity started to decline along with soil fertility and ground water. Then I came across “One Straw Revolution” and I adopted two principles: No fertilizers and no pesticides. After a while, I adopted no weeding and no plowing as well. Immediately, I observed increase in soil fertility and water holding capacity in the soil, and plants started to respond well.
As of now, my farm is excellent with regards to soil fertility, water conservation and food production.
Have you made any modifications while applying Fukuoka’s practices to your land?
There is a lot of difference between the two techniques – because each field, region, crop and climate is different and they respond according to these parameters.
First we have to understand soil, weather, crop and region; then we can make changes according to the need, and it’s a continuous process.
Have you ever experienced a serious issue regarding your fields?
Yes, initially I did with snakes, because we don’t plow or remove weeds from the field, but I have learned to handle them. Now it’s not an issue anymore.
In your opinion, what steps should someone who starts natural farming on a barren area take?
First thing that we need to do is to grow local crops according to region, don’t opt for crops which are not suitable for particular regions; and select local seeds because local varieties are more resistant to pests and climate changes. Grow drought resistant crops and grow seasonal crops instead of non-seasonal crops, then we can see the good outcomes of natural farming even in barren land.
Do you think that natural farming is applicable in any region of the world?
Yes it is, if you understand basic principles of nature. There is a symbiotic relationship between plants and animals, plants cannot survive without animals and vice versa. Animal waste is plants’ growth promoter and vice versa. If we stop plowing our land, it helps microorganisms to develop, which develops soil biodiversity, then we can apply natural farming in any part of the world.
In one of your interviews, you mentioned that the weather is less predictable than it used to be. Is that still one of your concerns?
Yes it’s going to be my all time concern. In India, mangoes are supposed to be harvested in the month of April and May, but some trees are still in flowering stage. This is because of weather changes which will result in an imbalance in the food chain, reproduction of plants and health.
Can you talk about solar-powered food processing?
I have installed a solar power plant for rice and millet processing; no external energy is being used. And for storage I am planning to install solar powered dryers which help preserving food for long durations. Solar power plant helps us use renewable energy to save the planet.
What are your opinions on the course of farming and the humanity as a whole? Is there still hope for a large scale ecological revolution?
Yes, it’s possible; natural farming started from the day the living organisms started to evolve. It was there till 19th century, that’s when Industrial and Green Revolution started. Unfortunately, we misutilized the purpose of it, and that lead to ecological imbalance. So if we concentrate more on natural farming, it will increase food production and it can be the foundation for an ecological revolution.