Farmer suicides have become regular news in the newspapers and televisions. Poor crop growth, soil infertility and low income resulting due to them are solely responsible for the deaths of these farmers. The trend of modern agricultural systems has increased pollution and made the lives of farmers in India really difficult. Giving this ongoing trend a break, 66-year old Subhash Palekar has been a pioneer of an age old farming practice which he calls as ‘Jivamrita’.
Since his college days in Shivaji Agricultural College in the Amravati region of Maharashtra (which is also his hometown), Palekar has been trying to find out ways in which the natural ingredients can assist in agricultural practices. He left his degree course midway as he ventured into finding answers to his queries about the various natural ways that can improve agriculture. He felt that the agricultural schools infested the minds with modern agricultural practices of irrigation, fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides.
While researching on Korku tribes he realised these modern techniques are the root cause of all the problems in agricultural sector. The next two decades of his life, he had spent finding out means to improve the lives of farmers. The Jivamrita technique involves using 200 litres of water, 10 kilogram of cow dung, 5 to 10 litres of cow’s urine, 1 kilogram of besan and jiggery each and some soil from the farm to be spread over an acre of land. Besides, crop residues needs to be spread over the soil in order to let absorption of moisture and prevent weed growth. This is a primitive technique which indeed plays a major role in improving lives of farmers. Subhash Palekar does not support the westernized methods of organic or natural farming, as they both are economic burden on the farmers and the composting and vermi-composting used actually contributes in pollution and large weed production in farms.
The Zero Budget Spiritual Farming method propagated by Subhash Palekar is really cost-effective, and has benefited over 40 lakhs farmers in the country. His devotion towards improving agriculture in low cost and environmental friendly method listed him as a Padma Shri Awardee. Chandrababu Naidu claims to promote and assist Subhash Palekar to help farmers in his state Andhra Pradesh . Reports show that farmers practising ZBF has zero suicide rates and are happy!