COW, AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY
From time immemorial, India has been an agrarian country and the cow has been the backbone of our agriculture. When fertilizers and tractors were unknown, cow was the only source sustaining the entire agriculture. Agriculture would not have been possible without cows.
Food security is most important for every country. Every country must reduce its dependence on external sources for its basic need- food. An important part of food security is that all the inputs should be locally available and cheap. Only a cow can ensure this. The entire agricultural inputs are provided by the cow. Bull power ensures ploughing and transportation. Absolutely no dependence on any external source. Consider a scenario where due to a natural calamity or international strife, oil cannot be imported for one month. There will be absolute chaos in all spheres. While we can survive the impact on other sectors, can we afford a failure in agriculture? We cannot afford to miss an agricultural season. The entire agricultural operations will come to a stand still and the food prices will soar leading to civil strife.
During the last several decades, especially after green revolution, the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and tractors have dealt a severe blow to the importance of cows in agriculture. While productivity levels improved in the short term with their use, their long term negative impact on health and environment has totally been ignored. In fact most of the diseases of today are being traced to the food we consume and fertilizers and pesticides are the major culprits. The cost of production has also gone up substantially due to the increase in the cost of farm inputs leading to higher food prices. The indiscriminate use of pesticides has also broken the food chain and hence contributed to most of the current problems faced in agriculture today. Research has also proved that these high productivity levels cannot be sustained over a long term as the soil quality deteriorates due to rampant use of fertilizers and pesticides. Once the fossil fuels ( petrol and diesel ) get exhausted or become very expensive, most of the mechanized farm equipment will not be of any use .
In short, these modern farming techniques have only contributed to
a. Increased vulnerability and dependence on external sources
b. degradation of environment and soil quality
c. increase in diseases and
d. increase in profits of fertilizer and pesticide companies.
Almost 2 lac crores is annual fertilizer subsidy bill.
In contrast, cow is the base of economic sustainable agriculture with only positive impact on environment. With only a pair of bulls and a cow, using natural farming techniques, upto ten acres of land can be cultivated for healthy organic produce. Using Gomaya and Gomutra, all the necessary inputs can be made including organic pest repellants. These techniques have been perfected and have been in vogue for several centuries. The cost of inputs is very low leading to lower food prices.
For some, going back to traditional farming methods may appear to be a retrograde step and impractical. Consider the following
Fossil fuels are definitely running out. Definitely they will get expensive. Even today, if diesel or the tractor or the harvester is not available, work stops. There is no fall back option. A lot of small farmers are losing money because of delays in getting the equipments.
Tractors do not give cow dung and urine- major agri inputs.
Organic farming enriches the soil.
Organic farming produces healthy and wholesome food.
Organic farming is as productive, if not more, as the chemicals based farming.
Organic farming reduces the input cost.
Organic farming reduces diseases and medical costs.
Organic farming improves quality of life.
Traditional farming using the cow is the only option for small and marginal farmers who constitute a majority of the farmers in India.
Organic farming will improve the economic well being of the farmers and stop farmer suicides.
Once the development in sectors like roads and other infrastructure projects , which use most of the unskilled farm labour now, slow down, the farm labour will not have any other source of employment. In the mean time they will also lose their farming skills and knowledge.
India has been a land of surpluses in food grains and cow based agriculture has never failed us. It is time that we realize the contribution of cows and go back to our time tested traditional farming techniques for a sustainable future.
Traditional cow based organic farming is the solution for the future. However difficult it may appear, we must pursue this for the sake of our good future and food security. It is better we act now before we are forced to act.
It is important that we save the Indian cow for the sake of good health and food security.
It is time to act now !