Starting an Organic Revolution in India
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Starting an Organic Revolution in IndiaGiving Back to the Earth
When my wife Margaret and I received an invitation to travel to India to meet Bharat Mitra and Bhavani Lev, we felt compelled to go. How could we resist meeting in person a couple who had founded a loving community and company called ORGANIC INDIA whose philosophy embraces Gaia: “Creation is one. The Earth is one. We are one.”
Like many Westerners, Bharat Mitra (from Israel) and Bhavani (from the United States) went to India as spiritual seekers. In India, they found a guru, Shri H. W. L. Poonjaji (Papaji), and a simpler life. But unlike most pilgrims, they stayed in India to make Lucknow (the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh and where they lived with Papaji) their home and the headquarters of ORGANIC INDIA. Says Bhavani, “We felt called to start an organic revolution in India.”
They started their revolution in 1997 in the town of Azamgarh. In the sixties, many farmers in this community had embraced the high-tech “Green Revolution” farming methods that Western corporations had introduced to India. They mortgaged their farms and lives to buy the promise of costly genetically modified seeds; and then had to borrow more to pay for the synthetic fertilizers; pesticides; and modern irrigation projects required to grow the genetically modified plants. The goal was to fend off the country’s famines that had once been considered inevitable, and at first it seemed to work. Yields increased and formerly poverty-stricken towns and the farmers who lived in them prospered.
But by the time ORGANIC INDIA started its work in Azamgarh, many farmers had become disillusioned and desperate. Their fields had indeed turned green but in the process had sucked up so much groundwater that they needed to dig deeper and deeper wells and borrow more and more money. The genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and petrochemical sprays produced an environmental disaster with devastating consequences. Monsanto’s GMO “monster crops” accelerated depletion of soil nutrients, creating plant blight, which in turn led to an invasion of destructive insects. The farmers had to borrow more money to buy more and more chemicals to grow their crops to fend off pests that had become resistant.
Unsurprisingly, when ORGANIC INDIA arrived in Azamgarh, farmers were suspicious of more Westerners asking them to radically change the way they work. And just as a practical matter, they were leery of becoming organic farmers because it takes at least three years to certify a field as organic.
Despite these suspicions, one farmer named Kailash Nath Singh decided to take a chance by going organic on his small, three-acre farm. That small step couldn’t have been more symbolic; not only was Singh going back to the way his ancestors had farmed but he was doing it with the ancient crop tulsi (also called holy basil), a wild medicinal herb that has been used for thousands of years in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) to heal body and mind.
The Sustainability of Organic Farming
Now, thanks to ORGANIC INDIA’s subsidies during their transition, 15 years later there are 1,000 organic farmers in Azamgarh and 20,000 around the country. The stories these grateful farmers tell are incredibly moving and a testament to the sustainability of organic farming—constant enrichment of the soil, healthier livestock, fewer miscarriages, and thriving children. Says Kailash Nath Singh, “Organic farming has come as a real blessing for our family. Our succeeding generations will reap the benefits and realize how the land has not lost its fertility due to heavy use of chemicals.”
I can’t tell you how inspiring it was for Margaret and me to see women and men working in organic tulsi, psyllium, and intoxicatingly fragrant rose fields (used in their fabulous Tulsi Sweet Rose Tea), cultivating their crops in a sustainable way. They are literally healing the Earth one field at a time. Says Bharat Mitra, “It’s not only that they have sustainable income, not only that the environment is healthy, not only that their livestock is doing well, not only their own health has improved so significantly, but they have the dignity of being farmers again. How beautiful. How natural. How simple.”
Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., a pioneer in the new biology, is an internationally recognized leader in bridging science and spirit.