Meet the organic farmer with a PhD, Dr Arun Sud

Interview by Safiya Juma (OfSource)

Dr Arun Sud is a social scientist & a natural farmer based in Solan in the Himalayan foothills who has some serious nature-based wisdom to share with the world!

Dr Sud please tell us a little about yourself!

🍄 I am a trained social scientist. But as a firm believer in re-establishing ancient knowledge systems, I have been professionally and personally engaged in promoting chemical-free farming since 1985. I hold Masters Degrees in Political Science (India) and Economics (UK) and did my PhD studying Citizen Participation. Teaching, social science research and pan-India NGO project funding for rural areas sums up my working career spanning 34 years.

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                                                              Dr Arun Sud

You now live and work on Bird Peck farm – a natural farm in Himachal Pradesh. What is a natural farm, and how does it differ from an organic farm?

🍄 A natural farm is a zero external input farm. It tries to make optimal use of the interplay between five elements – soil, air, water, sunlight and space to grow crops from heirloom seeds available / adapted at the farm. Minimal human interference encourages a large variety of indigenous flora and fauna to thrive that support food production activities.Organic farming uses composts of various kinds and the application of manmade pest killers. In natural farming this is not necessary. Globally, ‘organic farming’ does not necessarily mean chemical-free.

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      The Bird Peck Organics Garden 

Why did you decide to farm your land this way, with minimal intervention on your part?

🍄 I believe the long-term future of humanity is embedded in re-inventing and re-discovering chemical-free farming to address global hunger and the increasing disease burden.

You decided against the use of fertilisers – even organic ones. Were you ever scared that nothing would grow?

🍄 No; not at all. Natural forests that use no chemicals & fertilisers not only support biodiversity – they produce numerous varieties of food, fruits and herbs that sustain life and planet health.

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                                                        Flowers in Bloom

What is biodiversity? Why does it matter and why should we care about it?

🍄 The interdependence of all animate existence on the planet is grossly known as bio-diversity. Let me give an example. Countless numbers of bees collect nectar from millions of indigenous flora on my small patch of land. They do not collect it out of greed, but the need to sustain themselves. If there were no indigenous flora they would perhaps die or migrate to a new location. In that scenario, who would pollinate the hundreds of fruit trees and other vegetable crops on the property? Biodiversity is the basis of life for the planet and therefore, we need to take care of it.

What is mono-cropping and what effect does it have on the environment?

🍄 Single-crop large stretches of land are an open invitation for hordes of pests to attack. Mono-cropping runs against the principles of nature wherein diverse species survive and thrive simultaneously. It does not accept the role of diverse local flora in food production. In fact, the complete wipe out of indigenous species is the starting point of mono-cropping. Mono-cropping is thus destructive of biodiversity, of the ecological balance and the environment itself.

What can those of us living in cities do to help encourage biodiversity, if anything?

🍄 One starting point would be engaging kids in interesting stories of food production in which ants, bees, insects of all kind play a role. This should be a hands-on process for adults as well as kids in kitchen gardens or community farms.

If you had one message for the young people of today, what would it be?

🍄Flock to responsible ecology. Ask for and work towards chemical-free foods not just for your own consumption but also to ensure biodiversity for safe food availability to the future generations. Demand safe food; it’s your right.

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A Happy Visitor at the Garden

Any must-read / watch recommendations for anyone interested in these topics?

🍄 One Straw Revolution – Masanobu Fukuoka

🍄 An Agricultural Testament – Sir Albert Howard

🍄 Ancient Futures – Helena Norberg Hodge

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