Each India and Africa face widespread points like degradation to cropland and atmosphere, deteriorating farm economics and a strain to feed a rising (and younger) inhabitants, this presents a chance to collaborate and share experiences. It’s notably crucial to give attention to farmers who personal small-units of land, since such smallholder farmers comprise over 70% of cropland in each Africa and Asia.
On this context, a low-cost sustainable agriculture methodology from India that may assist Africa’s farmers is Neighborhood-Managed Pure Farming or CMNF (previously Zero Finances Pure Farming).
Whereas some Indian states are practising CMNF throughout a number of districts, the state of Andhra Pradesh has made this a ‘state-wide coverage’ and goals to transform all its 6 million farmers to CMNF. By the way, Andhra Pradesh’s CMNF programme has evinced preliminary curiosity from Africa, with Rwanda lately organising a knowledge-session on CMNF.
What does Neighborhood-Managed Pure Farming contain?
The CMNF methodology focuses on the ideas of regenerative agriculture (enabling the cropland to regenerate its pure nutrient cycle as a substitute of being depending on chemical pesticides/fertilisers and agroecology (finding out the interactions between plant-types, human and atmosphere, and its software to agriculture). Our standard chemical-based farming system has had extreme environmental and financial impression, together with degradation of croplands, freshwater air pollution, farmer debt and residue in crops.
CMNF is a ‘package deal of practices’ that strengthens the regenerative capability and sustainability of our soil, atmosphere and farming system.
CMNF makes use of low-cost inputs constructed from pure components and bovine waste, as a substitute of pricey chemical fertilizers. Pure components sourced from meals include the sugars and proteins which micro-organisms have to thrive within the soil, whereas bovine waste accommodates a excessive content material of helpful micro-organisms. Chemical pesticides are changed with pure or mechanical alternate options, together with crops possessing pest-repelling qualities.
CMNF includes methods like inter-cropping/border-cropping, i.e. sowing a mixture of crops that helps defend the farmers’ revenue. A mix of crops additionally enhances the soil’s nutrient functionality. As micro-organisms thrive within the soil, it enhances a food-chain of organisms, bugs and birds. This soil-food-web regenerates the soil’s nutrient cycle. A number of crops at various heights in the identical farm cushion the daylight on the uncovered soil and smaller crops, lowering moisture evaporation. The appliance of all these pure inputs are primarily based on sure combos, and this kinds the ‘pure farming’ a part of CMNF.
The opposite a part of CMNF is the ‘community-managed’. Similar to microfinance, CMNF relies on the social capital created by native communities and self-help teams.
CMNF expands with knowledge-transfer. Africa and India have a big inhabitants and landmass, making it robust for a central staff to execute single-handedly. Coaching the native communities within the CMNF practices and managerial capabilities helps them grow to be the ‘foot-soldiers’, who then broaden and supervise the programme to extra villages. This institutional construction is instrumental in guaranteeing the knowledge-transfer rapidly cascades a big landmass and inhabitants.
A fast take a look at CMNF’s a number of benefits!
First is price. CMNF makes use of inputs which might be low-cost and obtainable regionally. This reduces the fee to farm, essential for smallholder farmers. Not solely does this cut back the debt burden, it additionally reduces the strain of rural migration to cities in case the small farmers fail and are unable to repay their debt. In international locations the place the common per capita revenue continues to be low, a decrease price to farm is necessary.
Subsequent is quantity. Weak institutional and market linkages frameworks power smallholders to rely on middlemen to promote their produce, lowering their bargaining energy on pricing. On high of that, smallholders have restricted quantity which reduces their bargaining energy additional. Now, crop-cutting experiments in CMNF farms in Andhra Pradesh confirmed, on a median, a productiveness enchancment within the crops.
Its 2019 presentation on the Centre for Science and Atmosphere’s conclave confirmed a 14% rise in rice yield in pattern CMNF farms vs. standard farms through the 2018 summer season crop cycle. This was 21% in maize, 34% every in groundnut and ragi (finger-millet) and 51% in sugarcane. An enchancment in quantity will help pricing-power, to some extent.
Enhancements in price and quantity helps enhance the farmers’ web revenue. The identical 2019 presentation confirmed a 51% rise within the web revenue of rice farmers in pattern CMNF farms vs. standard farms. This was 46% in maize, 83% in groundnut, 125% in ragi and 68% in sugarcane. These are encouraging numbers!
CMNF additionally helps sluggish the injury to the atmosphere. We’ve got described how the method revives the pure nutrient cycle of the soil by way of the food-web of micro-organisms, which in any other case perished owing to the rampant use of chemical compounds.
Water utilization additionally reduces because the micro-organisms make the soil extra porous, enabling higher absorption of rainwater, motion of organisms and vitamins, resistance to cyclones as a result of a deeper root-system and resistance to drought.
Well being can acquire. Crops produced with out chemical compounds are free from residue, thus lowering incidents of sickness. That suggests decrease medical payments, necessary in international locations with a near-absence of state-sponsored social safety and healthcare.
There may be additionally a coverage benefit. Africa stays a web meals importer, regardless of being house to a younger and rising inhabitants. The discount in cropland as a result of degradation provides to the strain of meals safety. Scaling up low-cost, sustainable agriculture could also be pragmatic.
On the finish, low-cost sustainable agriculture is a low-hanging fruit for diplomatic engagements.
Sourajit Aiyer is Lead Advisor and Sonia Sharma is Advisor, South Asia Quick Observe Sustainability Communications.