Japanese farmer-philosopher on how Indians can benefit from 'Fukuoka way' of farming

Updated: Jan 26, 2018, 11:34 IST | Gaurav Sarkar

During a brief halt in the city, author Larry Korn, revolutionary Japanese farmer-philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka's student, explains how Indians can benefit from 'Fukuoka way' of farming

Larry Korn translated the Japanese Farmer s book One Straw Revolution. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Larry Korn translated the Japanese Farmer s book One Straw Revolution. Pic/Suresh Karkera

Be it Maharashtra Tamil Nadu or any other part of the country, the agriculture industry is plagued by a lot more than rising prices of manures and pesticides. While acres of crops are destroyed every year due to floods and drought-like situations, farmer suicides across the country are also at an all-time high. With such situations in the backdrop, author Larry Korn, the late revolutionary Japanese farmer-philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka's student, says that a journey back to the past may help in harvesting a better future.

Korn's itinerary
In conversation with mid-day, Korn, who helped Fukuoka translate his immensely popular book in English, One Straw Revolutionary, admits that he is looking forward to visiting farmlands and other places his guru had frequented in Fukuoka's early days as a philosopher. Apparently, back in the '80s, Fukuoka visited India five times to spread the ideology of natural farming among farmers. In the city before heading to Wanwadi near Pune, where he intends to participate in a gathering of natural Indian farmers, Korn says, "At the event in Wanwadi, participants will try to formulate plans to take the system of natural farming ahead. Following this event, I will conduct a weeklong workshop session in Karnataka to explain the benefits of Fukuoka's style of farming. Indians can benefit a great deal from this way of farming as it will reduce cost of production, too."

Fukuoka's farming technique
Korn describes himself as a "through-and-through LA-bred youngster" who headed to Japan at the age of 23, to learn and experience farming practices in the nation. "I had just graduated out of Berkley College in 1970 when I headed to Japan, where I learnt and got acquainted with farming tools and practices for two years. After years of hearing about Fukuoka's revolutionary farmland, in 1972, I embarked on a journey to visit Shikoku Island and meet Fukuoka. A lot of things stood out when I first saw his farm. Fukuoka did not plough the soil at all, there was no tillage system. He did not flood his rice fields or use any kind of machinery and fertilisers/pesticides for crops. Yet, he reaped better harvest than farmers in Japan, who employed the so-called 'modern' methods of farming. In fact, he managed the good produce after harvesting rice and barley on the same field every year. He also maintained a ground cover of soil-building plants on the surface of the orchards and the rice field, throughout the year."

Korn says Fukuoka's approach involves relying on Nature's unique ability to produce things on its own. "We need to return to our roots, literally. Fukuoka's point was that if we can restore the landscape to it's original form, we can rely on Nature's ability to keep producing to its maximum capacity. Farmers around Fukuoka used all sorts of machinery and pesticides, but they still couldn't match the quality and quantity of Fukuoka's produce."

So, why don't modern pragmatic countries adopt Fukuoka's method of farming? "People are used to conventional forms of farming. But, fact remains that our primitive ancestors lived in harmony with Nature for thousands of years without contaminating it with fertilisers and pesticides. It's time that we return to our roots, too."

5 No. of times Fukuoka visited India during the '80s

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