Monday, January 2, 2012

No Till ‘Friendly Farming’: A Quaker Perspective

No Till ‘Friendly Farming’: A Quaker Perspective

The Friends’ philosophy developed to fulfill a global vision of peace, which encompasses a shared, sustainable future for all of us. This peace is impossible to imagine without considering our interactions with our environment. One of the biggest impacts on our environment stems from our farming practices, namely the tilling of land. Tilling destroys the greenery of the land, as well as the delicate structure created by earthworms and other organisms. Water falling on this soil flows fast and furious, taking with it the organic nutrients, and leaving the land hungry, thirsty and weakened. Furthermore, tilling hastens the oxidation of the carbonaceous organic matter, further contributing to global warming and climate change (

There are many examples in India’s history where farmers paid attention to the damage caused by tilling of the land. They would stop farming on sections of the land to let the land recover from the impact of tilling. However, the large scale commercialization of agriculture has put an end to such sustainability practices, and large stretches of land are being transformed into deserts ( This has lead to large scale scarcity in natural soil, water, food and fuel. Lack of greenery is choking the very air out of our breath.

Coaxing a weak harvest from a sick soil requires heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which are further poisoning our environment. The poison spreads from the land to our food, and ultimately to our body, making us sick, and causing cancer epidemics. Anaemia in women, infant death, lung disease in children, high blood pressure, blood sugar, obesity, and malnutrition are the gifts of this unsustainable agricultural practice. The flavors have vanished from our food. This is why we look for exotic flavors, which leads to further imbalance in our bodies.

The conventional tilling based agriculture is now a losing proposition for the farmers. He is tied to the post, going around a circle of increasing hardship and low return for his efforts. The poverty is pushing many farmers in Madhya Pradesh (in central India) to suicide.

Starting in the 1970’s, the Friends Rural Center of Rasulia had established a model for the Green Revolution, which quickly lead to its downfall. The Friends of the meeting then undertook ‘Friendly Farming’ as its way of life, which not only helped them recover as a community, but also made them a topic of conversation in conservation circles the world over. A big part of this fame is due to following the footsteps of Japan’s Masanobu Fukuoka. His philosophy of no till agriculture, summed up in his famous ‘One Straw Revolution’, stands out as a masterpiece of conservation literature. It is impossible to read this book and not be influenced and transformed. It radically changes our thinking, from viewing tilling as a sacred act of farming to a grave environmental crime.

As I was born to a Friend family, I became a member of the Friends’ circle. This organization was established by Friends, to serve the world according the the Friends’ philosophy. Through my association with this organization, I was able to carry out the No Till Farming methodology in my fields, and over the last 25 years, I have been able to save my fields from the path of destruction. Today, my farm ranks as one of the best Natural Farms in the world, and I owe it all to my Friends who introduced me to Fukuoka’s No Till Farming. This is a true Friendly Farming. Just as true Friends have a natural love towards their own self, they have a similar love for their soil. Braking the runaway soil helps absorb and retain the moisture in the soil, which further helps in rainfall. Every grain of soil comes alive. Under a microscope, there is nothing but life in every part of the soil. This is why the soil is our mother, mother earth. No Till Friendly farming is a non-violent form of agriculture, which is the first step towards a sustainable global peace.

This No Till practice is being adopted in many developed countries, where No Till is practiced in both Chemical and Organic farms. Farmers dependent on chemicals are slowly turning away from them. Helping conserve the earthworms’ homes pay rich dividends, making the conservation financially viable. This is being implemented along the Gangetic valley as well.

I am grateful that I was saved by the No Till Friendly Farming. And I want that whoever is associated with farming, discover and be saved by this practice. Recently, my friend Kaushik visited from the US to introduce this Friendly Farming practice to Bharat Sevashram and Ramakrishna Mission in Ranchi. He introduced me to these organizations, and invited me to teach the principles of Friendly Farming to them. He wants to try this out to make a Gurukul style school run by Bharat Sevashram to become self-sufficient in their food needs. Another effort is at Ramakrishna Missions TB Sanatorium, to help the patients heal better with natural food. I believe that the lack of natural food, water and air has contributed to our ill health. I am grateful to Kaushik for his invitation and efforts in this direction. I would like him to translate this letter, and take it to Friends in the US, so that our Quaker Friends in the US can learn about our efforts and get involved. This farming has been called Rishi Kheti, Natural Farming, or Friendly Farming in India.

I feel that this form of Friendly Farming can be viewed as another manifestation of ‘Alternate to Violence Project’. This is another gift of service of the Quakers to the world, which has made significant contributions to world peace.

Raju Titus
Hoshangabad. M.P .India
(Translation By Kousik Katari)

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