TEN RULES OF NAYAKRISHI FARMING
Farming practice of Nayakrishi Andolon follows ten simple rules. These rules are summarised in 10 statements adopted by the farmers themselves, mirroring 10 fingers of their hands. They are developed through day to day experiences and knowledge. These rules are reviewed every year based on newer information, practices and learnings. Ten rules were developed initially in 1997.
The latest revision (2014) is to cluster them in two blocks. The experience shows that farmers prefer to go from simple to complex systems. While all rules are indeed interconnected but each also represents a distinct principle. Understanding the foundational nature of the principle is key in strengthening the confidence of the farmers in ecological agriculture. In bangla principle means 'niti' -- moral obligation to follow certain rules for both individual and collective good.
To be a Nayakrishi farmer, one must follow all ten rules. However, while Rules 1 to 5 is absolutely key in setting foundational nature of a household in transition from conventional to ecological practices, the rules 6 to 10 are more appealing to farmers who are interested in developing more complex systems not only to maximize the yield but to contribute in innovating interesting ecological designs demonstrating immense potential of biodiversity-based ecological farming.
The Rules 1 to 5 are also used for the self assessment of the farmer to determine their performance as ecological farmer.
Farmers are encouraged to go from simple to complex systems. The ordring of Rules are set from this perspective.
NAYAKRISHI RULE 1
Absolutely no use of pesticides and harmful chemicals
Transform the so called 'pests' into biological resources and maintain ecological balance in farming system
Nayakrishi farmers do not use any form of pesticide, herbicides, any chemicals or poison that kills or harms life. They use organic repellents and various biological means to restore balance in the farming system. However, usually they avoid organic biocides or anything that may irreversibly damage any life form. The obligation to practice moral values that respects the integrity of all life forms is critical for Nayakrishi. Pesticides do not only kill pests, it kills all life forms including those that are necessary for the fertility of land and performance of agricultural system and harms human health.
Monoculture and laboratory seeds are the two main reasons for pest attacks. Pest control practices are done in Nayakrishi Andolon by three primary means: (1) through mixed cropping practices, by the production of biodiversity; (2) preserving high quality local and indigenous seeds that have been adopted by the farmers through prolonged use and (3) maintaining the soil health and cutivate crops that maintain soil nutrition. An introduction of any new variety is very closely monitored and researched by experienced farmers before they are integrated into Nayakrishi system and distributed for wider cultivation in the Nayakrishi areas.
NAYAKRISHI RULE 2
No use of chemical fertilisers, encourage living micro-organisms
Produce healthy soil by composting on farm and ensure soil management
Nayakrishi farming practice discourages the use of artificial and/or chemical fertilisers.
A healthy piece of land, that ensures good soil nutrition and activities of living micro-organisms, earth worms, insects and other life forms -- does not need any external input, even composts.
Therefore, in Nayakrishi the primary focus is always the soil management and not external supply of fertilisers. Chemical fertilisers are not used because they pollute the environment. They are allowed only in case of very degraded soil mixed with compost.
Organic fertilisers, as external inputs, are not encouraged either because that undermines the art of soil management through the method of cultivation. Farmers are encouraged to collect compost materials from within their farm. The use of nitrogen fixing legumes is strongly encouraged and promoted.
Since Nayakrishi is premised on biodiversity, the guiding notion is selection of right crop or plant for specific ecosystem. The concept of “fertile land”, is an economic term and presupposes that lands can be classified as fertile and non fertile without any reference to its suitability for specific kind of plants. The question is rather what kind of crop is suitable for what type of land.
However, for transition from chemical based conventional farming to Nayakrishi practice, a gradual decrease of chemical fertilisers is accepted, particularly, in cases where the land has been severely degraded because of heavy doses of use of chemicals in the past.
NAYAKRISHI RULE 3
Keep seed in farmers hands
Transform farmer’s households into dynamic sites of In situ and ex situ conservation of seed and genetic resources
Seeds and genetic resources are the common biological wealth of the community and must be conserved at the household and community level.
Growing food by farmers is integral to keeping seeds for generations. Farmers regenerate and expand their biodiversity and genetic base. Control over seed is the lifeline of the farming community and ensures the command of the farmers over the agrarian production cycle. Strengthening farmer's seed system is essential for innovation and knowledge generation.
Given the domination of few transnational companies over seeds and control over global food chain, Nayakrishi Andolon believes that defending seeds and genetic resources has become the paramount political issue of our time. Biopiracy in various forms including intellectual property rights to appropriate farmers innovations and knowlege, reinforces the need that farmers must keep seeds in their hand. Therefore, the rule that seeds and genetic resources should never get out of the hands of the farmers, particularly women, is strictly practised. The rule also implies resisting privatisation of seed, genetic resources and patenting of life forms. Within the emerging global regimes of intellectual property rights, as inscribed in TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), it is imperative that farming communities defend their biological resources from piracy.
On the other hand, conservation of seed and genetic resources is the only guarantee that farmers, particularly women, can ensure their command over the agrarian production cycles. This is a very important issue for the gloabl community to take into account if empwering rural women is a genuine objective. The future food security and the availability of germplasm for all, are directly related to the functioning of the biodiversity-based production systems lead by women farmers. This is the predominant feature of Bangladesh agriculture, where the articulation of in-situ and ex-situ conservation of seed and genetic resources is highly advanced and based on the ingenuity of an experience that took hundreds of years to evolve. It is not only the interest of the Bangladeshi farmers but of critical nterest of us all that such production systems are protected from being endangered.
NAYAKRISHI RULE 4
Stop the use of deep tube wells and extraction of groundwater
Harvest and conserve water, develop efficient management and use of surface water
Nayakrishi farming does not need the use of deep tube wells for irrigation. Nayakrishi farmers evolve innovative irrigation systems using surface water. The agricultural practices that are heavily dependent on ground water extraction must be radically transformed. Arsenic poisoning and serious crisis of drinking water is already disastrous. Nayakrishi farmers have been able to stop deep tubewell in the villages; and thereby save the farmers from unnecessary expenditures on non-renewable energy such as diesel or electricity and reduces the dependence on deep tubewell owners.
The disastrous consequence, mainly arsenic contamination in drinking water, of extracting groundwater for irrigation for the cultivation of the so-called “high-yielding varieties” is by now, well known internationally. Nayakrishi Andolon from its very inception was raising concerns about the deep tube wells for irrigation with subsidised electricity, availability of low interest credit and other governmental support for newly emerged 'water lords' in the village.
Nayakrishi Andolon, campaigns against the use of deep tube wells and works with the farmers to evolve innovative irrigation systems using surface water. There is no problem of availability of water in Bangladesh; rather, it is mainly the problem of water management. The agricultural practices that are heavily dependent on ground water extraction must be radically transformed.
NAYAKRISHI RULE 5
Produce cultivated and uncultivated food and manage spaces for both
Biodiversity-based Agriculture ensures cultivation of diverse crops and availability of uncultivated food
Nayakrishi is not only about cultivated crops. The uncultivated plants, fish and animals constitute an important place in the local agricultural system and constitute a vital component of agricultural practice. The very act of collecting uncultivated biodiversity and using to prepare food or feed livestock brings farmers, particularly women and young children, into a distinct relationship with cultivated and uncultivated spaces. Space obtains a very different meaning in Nayakrishi.
Nayakrishi ensures diversity and bioiversity means management of uncultivated spaces for food, feed and fodder sources that are vital for humans as well as animals and birds. Ensuring the avavilability of uncultivated food addresses the livelihood of the extremely poor and marginal population.
NAYAKRISHI RULE 6
Copy the forest, the book to learn about agriculture.
Forest is book of ideas on biodiversity to learn about Innovative mixed cropping, crop rotation, and ecological designing
Multi-cropping or mixed cropping, inter-cropping, crop rotation, agro-forestry and other familiar methods are used in Nayakrishi mirroring the diversity of the forest. Such practice retains and enhances soil fertility and productivity. The practice of multi-cropping or mixed cropping is an excellent risk management strategy internalised into the production practice.
Ecological designing is the careful selection of local species and varieties depending on the nature and characteristic of a farming household and knowledge skill of the household members to ensure support for the highest number of life forms and maximum systemic yield to meet household need as well as need mediated by the market.
Increasingly farmers are convinced that the best method for pest management is conservation and constant regeneration of biodiversity. The practice of “misra fashal” or multi-cropping has become popular for pest management and, crop rotation to maintain the health of the soil. Farmers know that using fertilisers (organic or inorganic) as external input from outside the farm is not the ideal way to remedy the fertility crisis of the soil. The designing of the mixed cropping and the crop rotation is more effective including integration of nitrogen fixing species of plants and trees. Farmers are eager to experiment with newer species or varieties in connection with soil health and yield. They are aware that “external” application of inputs is a hangover from old habits of chemical agriculture. Farmers are constantly innovating new ways to increase the fertility of their soil, without “external” inputs.
The ingenuity lies in recognising the fact that soil becomes alive if proper care is taken.
These practices have the immediate benefit of higher productivity in terms of the total yield of the farming household. This is also the reason why Nayakrishi farming practices are economically gainful for the farmers, compared to mono-cultural practices, ensuring household food security and at the same time crops for the market.
NAYAKRISHI RULE 7
Calculate total yield of the household, community and the eco-systems
System yields are the real indicator of the performance of a farming household
Nayakrishi calculates total yield of a farming household coming from food, fuel-wood, fibres, and construction materials, medicine and other sources. Over and above, gains of the individual households, material gains of the whole community is also qualitatively and quantitatively identified.
Villages are mapped as constituting distinctive eco-systems that includes the local and indigenous knowledge of the community. The yield potential of a system or a cluster of systems is also assessed in order to develop highly productive biodiversity-based ecological production methods. A household is seen as a nodal point in forming a mosaic in a complex system. These ideas and practices are promoted in local level planning, particularly in those villages and unions that are already advanced as Nayakrsihi villages or unions. It is becoming increasingly apparent that Nayakrishi is the future of agriculture that can ensure increased yield and enough surpluses to meet the need of Bangladesh as well as other countries. Given the fertile land, plenty of fresh sweet water, ingenuity of the farming communities and the advanced biodiversity-based farming practices, Bangladesh could feed its population with safe and nutritious food.
The material, social, cultural and spiritual gains of the community as a whole through the maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity is a crucial factor in addressing poverty and vulnerability. Nayakrishi farmers are capable to calculate the total yield of the farm, not the quantitative productivity of a single crop. The falsity and the lack of scientific basis of the paradigm of productivity calculation of the “green revolution” are now clear to the farmers. The perception of ‘real’ productivity and capacity to audit the production and enhancement of natural resources in addition to yield of the harvest of the total system, is crucial for national policy as well. Nayakrishi Andolon is creating the basis for that alternative paradigm.
NAYAKRISHI RULE 8
All domesticated and semi-domesticated animals and birds are members of the farming households
Integrating livestock, poultry and fish in the farming produces more complex household ecology to maximize benefits
Livestock, poultry and semi-domesticated birds are integral part of the farming household. Nayakrishi farming practices ensure food and fodder for all domesticated animals and birds. The production of local variety of crops provides fodder for livestock. On the other hand, the cows, bullock etc. are needed for the production of crops. Livestock and poultry production is also integrally related to the diversity of crops. Nayakrishi is critical of fragmentation and departmentalisation of agriculture into crop, livestock, poultry, fisheries, forestry, etc.
Local breeds of livestock, poultry and fish are specially desired, cared, supported and preferred. Local breeds are almost always economically advantageous and ecologically suitable and add to the cultural world of the farming communities. Nayakrishi farmers are critical of artificial insemination for moral and cultural reasons but they are not against natural cross breeding.
The artificial insemination is a disgrace to animals, and an insult to the feminine principles of ‘Nature’. Farming women of Nayakrishi are strongly against artificial insemination or any artificial experiment on animals or birds. 'Once it is tried on animal, sooner or later the male-science will try that on women' -- is their apprehension.
Nayakrishi farmers also reject the concept of “pure” breed. This concept assumes that life processes can and should be separated from evolutionary processes for the egocentric desire for a particular trait. Purity of breed also related to the notorius history of eugenics.
Nayakrishi adores contingencies and surprises of nature. Nature can not be reduced into mechanised machine to deliver anticipated results.
NAYAKRISHI RULE 9
Agriculture is also aquaculture
Integrate water and aquatic diversity to generate more ecological products
Water is vital for flood-plain eco-systems as well as rain-fed agriculture. Water is the source of conserving biodiversity of plants and fish resources. Bangladesh is a variation of flood-plain eco systems. The ecology of the dry lands are also determined by the nets of river and the rain water. Aquatic biodiversity, including fish and plant species, is an integral part of agricultural practice. A variety of fish can be maintained only if land and water is kept free of chemicals and poisons and agriculture is designed to support the habitat of different aquatic species and varieties. The fish biodiversity is directly related to the nature of agricultural practice.
Aquatic biodiversity, including fish and other aquatic species, is an integral part of agricultural practice. A variety of fish can be maintained only if land and water is kept free of chemicals and poisons and agriculture is designed to support the habitat of different aquatic species and varieties. The fish biodiversity is directly related to the nature of agricultural practice. Aquatic diversity ensures feed for ducks, and other water-dependent birds and animals.
The fish is an important part of the food system of Bangladesh. The conventional form of agriculture has severely destroyed fish and aquatic resources. It is a challenge for Nayakrishi to regain the fish and aquatic resources, by integrating aquatic biodiversity into Nayakrishi agricultural practices for maintenance and enhancement. Introduction of exotic varieties of fish and alien species for commercial purposes has caused serious destruction of the local varieties. The conservation of the indigenous varieties is a major activity of the farming community in their alliance with the fishing communities.
The media image of Bangladesh as a flood-prone country experiencing constant disaster has seriously hampered the agricultural practice of Bangladesh. The billion dollar flood action plans and projects are premised on this conception of water control and become the main causes of disasters and miseries by their destructive impact on the flood plain eco-systems and associated agricultural practices. As a counter-strategy, Nayakrishi Andolon emphasises the creative use of water. Rural planning of homestead, landscape and topology takes advantage of water as resources, particularly the floodwater, as a vital element of agricultural practice.
NAYAKRISHI RULE 10
Re-integrating and localizing community existnce and economy.
Regain the vital role of farming to accelerate community development
Agriculture is not only the source of food, but also provides fuel wood, fibres, construction materials and medicine. Nayakrishi refuses to reduce agriculture into a food-supplying sector only. Practice of agro-forestry and integration of fuel wood, fruit and various multipurpose trees and medicinal plants along with rice and vegetable fields is therefore very crucial for Nayakrishi.
Along with food farming households are encouraged to plant energy, fibres, construction materials and medicine is ensured in the rural areas. reconceptualises the farming households an Exotic or imported agro-forestry species are generally rejected, instead, local species are collected. Farmers are involved in various forms of research to identify the appropriate local species that are required.
Nayakrishi integrates potters, weavers, blacksmith, craft persons and all forms of livelihood activities in the rural area in order to prosper as a community.