Our primary objective is to promote and sustain ayurvedic organic farming using modern biotechnological processes as a healthy alternative to the farmers by curtailing their dependency on chemical fertilizers. The reformation of Indian agriculture under green revolution in the late 1960s has raised food production by implementation of modern farming practices such as equipments and chemicals. Initially the new scheme aided millions of farmers in India but later on it turned out to be unsustainable. This is because chemical fertilizers and pesticides took a heavy toll on the environment and other useful flora-fauna.
- Usage of chemical fertilizers (urea and NPK) hampered soil health by reducing organic content, increasing salinity, disturbing local pH. This has lead to decreased soil health by disrupting bacteria-fungi populations that support crop growth. Furthermore, the excess use of these fertilizers found their way in to water bodies that have resulted in algal blooms (www.epa.gov/watershedacademy).
- Likewise use of chemical pesticides resulted in large-scale destruction of harmful crop pests like insects and nematodes. But their usage also destroyed harmless and beneficial populations of insect, birds and animals. In addition to the immediate destruction of fauna the chronic effects of pesticide usage on the environment has been alarming; this phenomenon is referred to as bio magnification / bioaccumulation, where the concentration of a stable chemical increases progressively at higher food chains in the ecosystem.Hence, the need of the hour is to develop novel strategies and formulations that would enhance crop growth and yield, manage pest control, curtail dependency on chemicals and improve farmer’s profitability, without harming the environment by ayurvedic approach for organic farming.
On the 11th June 2014, prime minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi addressed to the nation the requirements of organic farming
We should concentrate on agro-based industries. Sikkim is a small state, but soon it will become an organic state. In the world there is now a market for organic good. People will stand in queues to buy organic goods. We should make the northeast an organic market and bring development there.
Firstly, we will improve and “re-discover” traditional approaches to ayurveidc organic farming. In fact, two such formulations like Kunapanjala used in the NE-India and Panchagavya are gaining popularity in the state of Tamil Nadu pioneered by Dr. Natarajan. While these products have met adequate success, there still exists a gap in improving and implementing these products on a large scale.
In order to achieve our objectives we will embark on identifying and developing novel crop-enhancing factors from microbial sources by studying the animal wastes, green manure and root-flora microenvironments that have been extensively described in traditional Indian literature and latest scientific reports. These bacteria are known to produce plant hormones like auxins (indole acetic acid-IAA), solubilize phosphate, fix-atmospheric nitrogen etc. to enhance plant growth and yield. But it has become increasingly evident that the number of biomolecules in the market from bacterial sources represents ‘the tip of the iceberg’. Due to the publication of many more genome sequences of various bacterial spp. many labs are now resorting to genome-mining (techniques to identify myriad number of novel secondary metabolites by stimulating putative gene clusters that may be otherwise expressed in low-amounts.
But one of the major drawback in identifying the myriad number of other useful metabolites have been their low expression levels; hence their identification and purification. In order to circumvent this drawback we will employ metabolomics based approach using NMR spectroscopy to identify novel compounds. Concomitantly, we will isolate the bacterial cultures and in combination with plant-tissue culture will allow us to test and identify the novel bio-molecules.
Based on the chemical nature of the identified compound we will accordingly devise chromatographic techniques(s) to purify the metabolites that may represent a wide range on biomolecules like bio-organic fertilizers, antibiotics against pathogens and repellents against pests. Next, we will devise formulations that will help the farmers to directly apply the compound to soil and plants by spray. Commercializing such strategies will set a precedent in farming technology using eco-friendly metabolites devoid of harmful chemicals in increasing crop yield and value.