Legendary farmer Bhaskar Save passed away on October 24, leaving behind his natural method of farming in India. Through practice, Save believed restoring the natural health of Indian agriculture could end interrelated problems including poverty, unemployment, and India’s growing population.
Known as the “Gandhi of Natural Farming,” Bhaskar Save strived and fought for the reform of farming, which has remained unchanged in India for decades and outdated for years.
On the surface, India’s countryside has made progress in the last two decades, noting a sharp decrease in poverty since 1980 due to increased welfare for people living across the countryside.
Since India’s last reform in 1991, the government has yet to intervene in India’s farming market, which still remains untouched with little to no growth.
With about 600 million Indians depending upon crops for survival, only 13.7 percent contribute to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to the latest Census data, there are 15 million fewer farmers in India today than there were in 1991 and 7.7 million less in 2001.
In recent years, a movement coined as “farmer suicides” has become a growing problem.
On average, over 2,000 farmers per day have been losing their main cultivator status since 2001.
According to Save, farming methods are one reason why farmers were unable to remain employed.
In an open letter to the Indian Minister of Agriculture and the Chair of the National Commissions on Farmers from 2006, Bhaskar Save encouraged the government to eliminate toxic chemicals from farming techniques.
“I say with conviction that it is only by organic farming in harmony with Nature that India can sustainably provide her people abundant, wholesome food. And meet every basic need of all – to live in health, dignity and peace,” said Save in his open letter.
Through a holistic approach to farming, Save believed in the “do nothing” way of farming rather than coddling crops.
Save believed in four fundamental principles for farmers to become one with nature:
- All Living Creatures Have an Equal Right to Live: Save believed in non-violent farming, believing the use of toxic chemicals on plants were placing harm on the environment and living things.
- Everything in Nature is Useful and Serves a Purpose in the Web of Life: Through the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, Save believed in the idea that all aspects of nature had a designated role for the prosperity of crops.
- Farming is a Dharma: Accompanied with multiple meanings, Save felt people associated farming as a money-oriented business, an ever-mounding problem the world faces.
- Perennial Fertility Regeneration: The belief that nothing is needed from an outside source to maintain farm crops. Through decomposition and the natural, life cycle, dead crop return to the soil to become fertilizer once again, assisting the next harvest of crops.
“Self-reliant farming – with minimal or zero external inputs – was the way we actually farmed, very successfully, in the past,” said Save.
While much of farming remains under the control of the state, a big election is currently underway in the state of Bihar, a state in eastern India that consists of mostly rural farmland.
Farmers only hope to cut out the middlemen and return to the natural farming country they once were, a fitting tribute for Bhaskar Save.
– Alexandra Korman