The Remarkable Success of India's Natural Farming Movement

THU, JAN 21, 2021 (49:37)

Learn about a movement that grew from over 40,000 farmers in 2016 to almost 800,000 farmers in 2020 in one of the driest states in India. This work has been successful in part because of a community supported approach where women-run self help groups are in charge of operations.

Vijay Kumar, advisor to the government of Andhra Pradesh, presents this program, and the impact of Walter Jehne’s ideas for increasing drought resilience. Didi Pershouse, who accompanied Jehne on his trip to India, moderates the conversation.

However, before you begin, Vijay invites you to enjoy this musical video, “One Earth Song,” by Ricky Kej, a tribute to farmers in India, to bring you in to his country for this conversation.




Learn more about Didi Pershouse’s work and find out more about her book, “The Ecology of Care”:

Government of Andhra Pradesh, Department of Agriculture’s ‘Zero-Budget’ Natural Farming Programme:

Follow their work on Youtube, on Twitter, and Facebook.

Fact sheets and articles related to the reasons behind 365 days green cover, and the intersection of soil, water, climate, and health.

List of upcoming courses that Didi’s group will be delving into the successes in India and how similar projects can get off the ground around the world.

In particular this course, “Regenerating Landscapes for Community and Climate Resilience,” (for which there is financial assistance as needed, particularly for people in the global south.)

Here is a free 150 page manual Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function (used in 60 countries).

Jan. 2020 International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, “Towards redesign at scale through zero budget natural farming in Andhra Pradesh, India.”

National Geographic article on farming in Andhra Pradesh: “Getting Back to Nature.”


Photo Credit: Andhra Pradesh Community Managed Natural Farming

+ BIO: T. Vijay Kumar

Vijay Kumar a 1983-batch IAS officer, heralding a natural farming era is a dream and comes at the end of a long career, 28 years of which were spent on the Tribal, Rural and Agriculture Development Departments.

After retiring in September 2016, he became adviser to the government on agriculture and vice-chairman of the Rythu Sadhikara Samstha, a not-for-profit company set up by the government to usher in natural farming.

+ BIO: Didi Pershouse

Didi Pershouse is the founder of the Center for Sustainable Medicine as well as the Land and Leadership Initiative, an online school. She is the author of two books: The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities, and Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function. She grew up in a family of high-tech medical pioneers working in radiation and brain surgery. Seeing the often destructive effects of their work first-hand led Pershouse to pioneering work of her own: she developed a practice and theoretical framework for systems-based ecological medicine—restoring health to people as well as the social and ecological systems around them.

Her sliding-scale practice included community acupuncture, nutrient-dense diets, and resiliency counseling. When the Ecology of Care was published in 2016, her practice became a model for others, as she connected the dots between soil health and public health, and the role of beneficial microorganisms in maintaining a healthy climate both inside and outside the body.

Her work turned increasingly towards engaging patients and the public in conversations about the relationships between soil health, shifting weather patterns, capitalism, and human health.

In 2017 she published a facilitator’s manual that has been used in over 40 countries, and was one of five speakers at the United Nations-FAO World Soil Day.

After 22 years of clinical work with patients, Pershouse now travels widely, leading participatory workshops on the soil sponge: the living matrix that makes life on land possible. Her teaching and facilitation engages farmers and ranchers, schools, policy makers, investors, and environmentalists in building multi-stakeholder working groups to reduce flooding and drought, improve local economies, and improve soil health, public health, and climate resiliency through changes in land management. She is the board chair/president of the Soil Carbon Coalition.

In the spring of 2018, she helped launch the “Can we Rehydrate California?” and “Soil Sponge” initiatives with a series of workshops throughout the United States.

She also leads retreats that develop and support resilient leadership in the environmental movement. She bases her work on three fundamental principles borrowed from the Benedictines: on one end is stability/commitment, in the center is deep listening, and on the other end is flexibility in thought and action.

Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
Life Saves the Planet