Two men in Punjab’s Ghel village have resolved to revolutionise their district’s agriculture practises with a simple shift in farmers’ mind patterns.
Arshdeep Bahga and his father, Sarbjit Bahga, wanted to go back to their origins and establish a sustainable and biodiverse organic farm that could be an example for other farmers in the area.
This model aims to improve farmers’ lives by raising their income and introducing them to organic farming.
The idea and the journey
Arshdeep, a tech entrepreneur, spent six years as a research scientist at Georgia Tech in the United States before returning to India in 2016.
Sarbjit, on the other hand, worked for the Punjab government as an architect for 41 years and had a great career.The team came up with the idea of building a farm that combined old organic farming practises with a blend of modern technologies, motivated by a desire to improve agrarian patterns in the region and boost farmers’ wages.
We spent time with farmers in the area and discovered that using chemicals to boost agricultural yields had a negative influence on the environment.
Many farmers had ruined their lands and over-exploited groundwater resources due to a lack of knowledge and expertise, resulting in the depletion of the water table,” recalls Arshdeep, recalling how these causes motivated him to launch Bahga Farm.
There is considerable opportunity for growth and wonderful food in the area of lush soils sprinkled with yellow mustard seeds and the toil of farmers.
However, this is frequently harmed by methods that aren’t long-term and conditions that aren’t well-studied. Arshdeep and his father came up with one such approach in their search for a means for farmers to maximise their revenues.
At the moment, most farmers sow paddy and wheat and sell the crops in agriculture produce (grain) markets because of the MSP (minimum support price) they receive for these crops,” he continues.
With an average rice production of 30 quintals per acre and a wheat yield of 20 quintals per acre, the total grains harvested per year is 50 quintals per acre. These crops generate a financial return of Rs 98,500 per acre per year, according to the current MSP.
However, wheat and rice alone are insufficient to sustain a farmer’s family, so they must purchase additional food products from grocery stores, such as vegetables, pulses, herbs, and cooking oil, at exorbitant costs.
Arshdeep and his father calculated that a rough estimate of a family’s annual food purchases is Rs 1,50,000 based on their research.
As a result, there is a significant difference between how much a farmer’s family earns from selling crops and how much they need to spend on their own food.
Farmers can diversify their farming patterns rather than restricting themselves to a wheat rice monoculture on a five-acre plot, according to the duo’s idea.
For example, if a farmer owns a five-acre plot of land, it can be divided into one-acre parts for different crops. “Not only is this diverse cropping strategy sufficient to meet up to 90% of food requirements, but it also provides maximum income from the same piece of land,” argues Arshdeep.