Organic Farming Trends in Bangladesh
Accounts of habitat destruction and misuse of natural resources are all too common in Bangladesh, and indeed in other parts of the world, so it is especially interesting to discover that more than 300,000 families in Bangladesh have returned to organic methods of farming in a movement called Nayakrishi Andolon. In Bangla the word krishi means cultivation, in the sense of cultivating a beneficially reciprocal relationship between humans and nature, while andolon refers to movement, in this case being a shift away from a destructive and predatory path, toward creativity and the joy of life.
Nayakrishi villages, of which there are 200 in various regions of Bangladesh currently, focus on food production and diversity. They do not use pesticides and harmful chemical fertilizers, but make use of various natural methods – such as crop rotation, diversity of species and mixed cropping – to enrich the soil and avoid pest problems with their crops.
Nayakrishi Andolon farming practices are based on ten principles developed through experience and agreed upon by the farmers. The number one principle of Nayakrishi farming is to completely avoid the use of herbicides, pesticides and chemicals, either organic or inorganic, as these are harmful to life. Secondly, farmers conserve seed to ensure there is a constant and diverse supply through generations, and thirdly, farmers do not use chemical fertilizers but encourage activity of earthworms and other organisms to increase the health of the soil.
Other principles include imitating nature as observed in forests by rotating crops and planting mixed crops, and caring for both cultivated and uncultivated areas. With indigenous plant species being preserved, butterflies, birds, bees and other pollinators essential for successful farming are abundant. Rather than drawing on underground water sources for crop irrigation, Nayakrishi farmers harvest, conserve and distribute surface water. In addition to providing water for crops, these water harvesting efforts provide safer drinking water for villagers, as ground water in some areas contains harmful substances, including arsenic. Farmers learn to calculate what they need to cultivate to provide food, wood for fuel, fibers, medicinal plants and other resources. Livestock and poultry are provided for through Nayakrishi farming principles, and aquatic life benefits from the fact that no chemicals are used in the area. The tenth Nayakrishi principle is to ensure community prosperity by including non-agricultural activities, such as traditional crafts. This respect for the cycles of nature and community wellbeing is already bearing fruit and will hopefully continue to develop and benefit Bangladesh into the future.