Two guys in Punjab’s Ghel village have resolved to revolutionize their district’s agriculture practices with an organic and 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.
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.
Organic farmers practice with a blend of modern technologies
The team came up with the idea of building a farm that combined old organic farmer practices with a blend of modern technologies, motivated by a desire to improve agrarian patterns in the region and boost farmers’ wages.
The Bahga Farm was established in the years 2019-2020.
“After spending time with farmers in the area, we saw that using chemicals to boost crop yields had a negative impact on the land.” 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 maximize 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.
In addition, he said, “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.
Building a Sustainable and Bio-Diverse ORGANIC FARM: Case Study of a 1 Acre Model Farm in India, a book written by the duo, discusses the findings and methods of this sustainable model.
It details their experiences building the farm and cultivating nutritious, organic, and natural, farm-fresh veggies, and it can be used as a resource for anyone interested in starting their own organic farm.