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'India destroyed soil health in last 45 years': Sadhguru calls for tree-based agriculture

New Delhi: Founder of Isha Foundation Jagadish Vasudev, popularly known as Sadhguru, who started a worldwide 'Save Soil Movement', on Monday said India has destroyed its soil health in the last 45 years. In an exclusive interview with ANI, Sadhguru said, "As a third world country, as an Asian nation, India has over 12,000 years of agricultural history. For 12,000 years, we managed our soils well, which means we must know what we are doing. It is only in the last 45 years that we have destroyed this. I am talking about tree-based agriculture which eventually will lead to organic agriculture." He called for incentives for farmers in order to facilitate the transition to organic farming from chemical farming. He said the immediate and absolute transition from chemical to organic farming is not feasible. He stressed on a gradual transition from chemical to organic. "Organic is something that the urban people like to talk about because it is a word that has caught people's imagination. But if you want to turn all lands into chemical-free agriculture right now, I think our food production could come down to 25 per cent of what it is right now, which will be a death," he said. Emphasizing on enhancing the organic content of soil, Sadhguru said, "As the soil becomes rich, the usage of pesticides, chemicals, and fertilizers will start sliding down. That is how it should happen. Not the other way round, because we do not like chemicals, we say remove them. If you do that, you cannot provide food to 8 billion people. Without fertilizers, you cannot do it right now. We are not in that condition. Soil is not in that condition anywhere. If you raise your organic content to 12 to 15 per cent, then maybe it is possible to think of raising food output without chemical fertilizer." "But I am not such a stickler against chemical fertilizer at all. If you have to use it a little bit, use it. It just has to be used in a doctored manner. Right now, it is being used extensively because the soil is so poor. It is like if you are eating good food and you are healthy, maybe you take one Vitamin pill. But now you are seriously ill, now all sorts of stuff are being pumped into you all the time. That is the state of a sick person and sick soil right now," he stated. Raising concerns about soil health and issues of farmers, the spiritual guru said nearly half a million farmers have died by suicide across the world in the last 25 years."If this doesn't awaken your humanity, then I do not know what else needs to happen," he said. Refering to the United Nations benchmark of soil health, Sadhguru said less than 1 per cent organic content in the soil will lead to desertification. "To call soil a soil, the UN agencies fix a minimum 3 per cent organic content, which means you are providing microbial life to the soil. Otherwise, it is in the process of becoming sand. Not a single nation in the entire world has an average of 3 per cent organic content in its agricultural soils. The highest is in Northern Europe which is 1.48 per cent. The USA has 1.25 per cent, Southern Europe has 1.1 per cent, Africa is 0.3 per cent and India has 0.68 per cent. Below 1 pc is considered desertification," he said. Sadhguru highlighted the need to transform the fertilizer industry and called for incentives for farmers to adopt organic farming. "We are talking about transforming the fertilizer industry. It is beginning to happen in a serious way. I had meetings with some of the top fertilizer companies in Davos recently and they are very much in this. They are saying they come up with bio-fertilizers but there is no market. For that to gain the market, it takes incentives. If the government gives incentives, then it will pick up," he explained. Sadhguru started 'Save Soil Movement' in March this year to increase awareness about deteriorating soil health. He embarked on a 100-day motorcycle journey passing through 27 countries. Sunday, June 5 marked the 75th day of the 100-day journey. Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended a programme on 'Save Soil Movement' at Delhi's Vigyan Bhawan.

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