Learning from Ancient Agriculture in India

Our earth can no longer tolerate pesticides and fertilizers, because of the ever increasing demand of food, we must return back to our basics – using age old agricultural practices with the help of modern technology.

The evidence of agriculture practice in India dates back to 9000 BC. The domestication of plants and animals was also reported around this time. Wheat, barley and jujube were among crops, sheep and goats were among animals that were domesticated. This period also saw the first domestication of the elephants. Agricultural communities became widespread in Kashmir valley around 5000 BC. It was reported that Cotton was cultivated by 5000 – 4000 BC in Kashmir. As early as 4530 BC and 5440 BC wild Oryza rice appeared in the Belan and Ganges valley regions of northern India. Agricultural activity during the second millennium BC included rice cultivation in the Kashmir and Harappan regions.  Agriculture was far from the dominant mode of support for human societies, but those who adopted it flourished.

Why should we return to ancient practices? 

Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides to increase crop production has augmented the deterioration in quality of the yield. Using chemicals in farming destroys natural resources, and wastes a lot of water because it causes soil degradation and soil to become salty. The chemicals are washed from soil into water and also cause water pollution along with soil pollution. Due to the process of biological magnification, the chemicals are being accumulated in our bodies. Due to the above reasons we need to switch to sustainable methods of farming like organic farming.

Ancient practices that can help farmers

  1. Water harvesting should be adopted by farmers. This will irrigate their fields and the water can also be used for domestic use in the farmer’s house. This also will decrease the farmers dependence on borewells and tubewells and thereby save water. The Harappan farmers used to harvest the rainwater.
  1. Trees should be grown along with the crops. It increases biodiversity in the farm and also may be used as an income source. By planting a neem tree in a field, a farmer can sell its leaves and small branches. Also, birds will visit it and eat the pests from crops. Growing trees of medicinal value will help to cure an ill member of the farmers family. 
  1.  The farmers should grow crops with only traditional seeds. HYV seeds (High Yield Variety seeds) appear to be good for a short course of time; but in the long run, they decrease the groundwater table of the area and decrease the productivity of soil.
  1. Manure is a cost effective and an environment-friendly alternative of Fertilizer. Farmers should reintroduce the use of Jiwamrita which has been used for thousands of years in India. The only ingredients in this miracle fertilizer are cow dung, cow urine, evaporated cane juice or raw sugar and water.
  1. Mixed farming was the basis of the Indus valley economy. Indian farmers should also diversify their crops and grow at least two crops in  a year. This will aid in increasing the fertility of the soil.

These were a few ancient farming practices that can help a farmer to increase his income while saving water and energy; ultimately saving the world from food scarcity and pollution.