Updated: Jul 1, 2022
Tagline: “Turn to organic farming to lead a healthy and sustainable lifestyle”
About the farmer
- Dr. Salunkhe has been a small-scale organic farmer for 13 years in Satara district of Maharashtra. He is also an Art of Living teacher, who conducts farming, yoga and meditation courses. The primary focus of farming for Dr. Salunkhe is in turmeric and he grows the Salem and Waygaon variety. He is very well respected in his village and empowers his farmers to turn to organic farming and lead a healthy, stress-free and sustainable lifestyle.
How he started- journey, family, village, crops
- Village- Warangal village, Satara, Maharashtra
- Crops- Salem and Waygaon turmeric, sugarcane
- Start- Dr. Salunkhe earlier was involved in a pharma job which he left to venture into farming. When Dr. Salunkhe started farming, he was completely dependent on chemicals to increase the yield of the crops and protect the crops from diseases. But over the long term, drastic impacts of chemical farming started becoming visible. The fertility of the soil had reduced considerably and the quality of the soil had also deteriorated.
- Transition to natural farming- The real journey of Dr. Salunkhe started in 2006, when he came across the Art of Living which introduced him to Sri Sri Natural farming. He was skeptical about Sri Sri Natural farming and people also scared him with theories about poor yield. But taking a leap of faith, he went ahead with it. He experimented with the natural methods taught in the Sri Sri Natural farming program and realized that it was the solution to many problems faced by agriculturalists today. He had never thought that he could get rid of many years of chemical farming.
Out of 10 talukas in Satara, 5 talukas have followed Dr. Salunkhe’s example and they are making profit. In addition to this, Dr. Salunkhe holds a YLTP course every month to take the concept of Sri Sri Natural farming to more and more villages.
YLTP- Youth Leadership Training Program
Farmers are taught self-empowerment programmes by The Art of Living. The techniques taught in this programme contributed to their increased morale and self-assurance. Dr. Salunkhe and many other Youth Leadership Training Program (YLTP) participants have been working in India's villages.
In response to the suicides of farmers in the Indian state of Maharashtra, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar initiated this project to transform the lives of farmers in numerous villages. The Art of Living introduced multiple initiatives for farmers over time, including:
❖ An exclusive programme on Sri Sri Natural Farming under which they have reached out to more than 20 lakh farmers and trained them in natural farming techniques.
❖ In ten districts of Maharashtra last year, the team distributed three tonnes of wheat seeds.
❖ In 2007, 700 farmers participated in a national training on natural farming.
❖ Through three additional workshops, the team has reached villages in 25 Indian states.
❖ Recently, in Madhya Pradesh, 1,500 farmers attended a session on how to implement the advantageous method of natural farming.
"We are inspired by Gurudev's vision that every man should have access to chemical-free food. According to Dr. Salunkhe, every gram contains a few milligrams of chemicals that could cause disease.
Info and benefits of organic agricultural practices
- The field’s soil becomes soft, black and porous which provides better absorption and retention of moisture whereas a chemically treated field’s soil is lumpy and hard.
- The produce in an organically treated field is much healthier and free from toxins.
- It is common to see the farmers owning cows in the nearby regions due to the benefits of using cow dung and urine in agriculture. Some of the benefits include:
❖ The organic farmers prepare Jivamrut , Agniastra , Beejamrut or Brahmastra with Indian cow urine, dung and leaves of wild plants and trees, adding jaggery, besan, or some mud (as each formula may demand) which maintain the health of crops and their own selves when they consume the food grown through these natural applications.
❖ Dried layers of cow dung from the cows is often used to line the courtyard and floor of the house. This is a natural antibacterial and dehumidifier.
❖ Following tradition, a few natural farmers in Maharashtra have cellars which they coat all over with a mix of river clay and cow dung. Produce stored in such a room would need no toxic or chemical preservative.
Engagement with Taru
- Taru Naturals procures Selam turmeric from Dr. Salunkhe. The unique thing about Salem turmeric is that the turmeric harvested is of premium quality and usually left in the ground for a long time to raise the level of the curcumin content in the turmeric.
- The wife of Dr. Salunkhe, Sunita Shashikant Salunkhe, says that they have been practicing organic farming for several years. Earlier they used to face marketing problems but Taru Naturals has made it easy and solved the marketing problem.
- Dr. Salunkhe is the recipient of Bharat Krishi Ratna Award for his achievements in agriculture. In World Culture Festival 2016, he was felicitated with “Krishi Ratna '' award along with 50 other farmers in the presence of Poojya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar ji and Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. The award was given considering the outstanding contribution in the field of agriculture, for practicing natural farming to develop their land and water resources and increase agricultural production.
- He has been interviewed several times by the media based on the success of his farming.
- He has saved on the cost of inputs by the use of Jeevamrut, Beejamrut and mulching techniques.
- He has organized a number of farmer meetings and given them training in organic farming.
- Dr. Salunkhe started a Participatory Guarantee Scheme(PGS) for an organic farmer group of 80 small-scale farmers.
- Dr. Salunke has formed a support group under the SRi Sri Kisan Manch of more than 200 organic farmers.