The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground–trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil.
Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever”– therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the Tree of Life.
Why does God not want his creation, Man, to eat either from the Tree of Knowledge, or Tree of Life? Knowledge of good and evil – does that mean discriminating knowledge? Which can be obtained only when we take things apart. Take a pretty flower apart, you see a lifeless entity. One can claim that they have learnt about petals, stamens, antlers, pollen, sepals, and the relationship between the parts. But somehow that knowledge is shallow, that comes at the expense of losing the big picture. The more we take things apart, the more the number of relationships we have to deal with, and the less we understand. Mansoubu Fukuoka, Japanese micro-biologist, turned philosopher/farmer, realized, in an epiphany, that nature is perfect. There is no sense, in trying to improve one element of nature. Doing that will break something else, either immediately or over the long term.
Reductionistic science in labs has brought us antibiotics, jet flight, iPhones, and other tech gizmos. We have been able to bring things from specialised, reductionistic research, together, to apparently create things that are “better” than nature.
Bible does suggest that discriminating knowledge, is death. Yes, the same Bible and Genesis, that puts creation of day and night, before the creation of Sun. Quran avoids this issue, by not explicitly mentioning the order in which God created the world. If discriminating knowledge is bad, what if Man had also eaten from the Tree of Life? We sure have applied our scientific understanding to the field of medicine, and perhaps, with stem cells, we may get to essentially eat from the Tree of Life.
The famous proponents of natural farming come from conventional scientific training. Subhash Palekar, and Dr. Nammalvar studied conventional agricultural science. Palekar has been quite aggressive in his contempt for western cattle breeds, “organic” farming, or vermicompost with red-wiggler worms. Fukuoka, was a microbiologist. His “Natural Way of Farming”, which I have read only in parts, says Nature is perfect. There is no good or bad or evil in Nature, and Man’s attempt to improve on it, will only lead to an endless increase in work. All that extra work just weakens and degrades Nature, and human life along with it.
Now there are heroes that like to work 20+ hours a day, and want everyone else to do the same. There are others who don’t like work, the mindless sort, that perhaps Nature can do for free. Fukuoka says, only humans have to work. The rest of life, they simply live.
One wonderful way to make soils fertile, crops disease resistant, is to use soil life, mostly microbial. The best way to do that, is to use a native cow, Bos indicus, the humped Indian cattle. Subhash Palekarji’s research had found that a preparation, called Jeevamrutha, with native cow’s dung, urine, jaggery, pulses, and a handful of forest soil, makes soil fertile. Like most things in Natural farming, if this is done right, in 3 years or less, soil becomes alive, and you no longer need to continue with this. Unlike some of the modern technology, that requires more and more people, sucked into a widening spiral of work.
Cow dung always had a pride of place in Indian households. Britishers, and westerners mocked at this. Cow dung used to be diluted with water, and the mud floors of the houses, and outside, were coated (waxed) with this solution. This reduced dust, and was healthy for people. Cows those days, ate grass, and a whole lot of herbs with it.
The cows today are not the same. The western or mixed breeds have stinky, pathological dung. Even native breeds, are given imported feed, grains, or Co-4 grass. Lot less diversity in their feed. The farms no longer have herbs or weeds, and the boundaries are bare. No mulberry, moringa (drumstick) or other fodder trees on the borders. One of the most nourishing things for the cows is ground cotton seed meal. A very nutritious drink for people too. Except that today most cotton is Bt cotton, or pathologically hybridised. The fans of science, claim that, since cotton seed oil is used in biscuits, breads, and other snacks, we have done a great experiment in science, and Bt cotton is safe for human consumption. By extension Bt brinjal (eggplant) should be safe!
Speaking of brinjal, our environmental activists, with their “We are not lab rats” banners, stopped Bt brinjal. With help from Environment Minister Ramesh Jairam, of the previous government ( ‘Jairam Ramesh Report’ of February 2010). That is a heroic story of successful activism, or is it? Let’s take Bt cotton. How did it appear in India? There was this article in “The Hindu”, which I can’t locate online, that said, both Monsanto, and India’s regulators, were surprised, when they found farmers growing Bt Cotton. Bt cotton was so good, that farmers sourced it from America, and shared the goody-goody stuff with progressive farmers, and soon it spread all over India. All under the watchful eyes of the regulators, who we expect to regulate GM crops. This link at Outlook India (http://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/bt-cottons-chequered-history-in-india/213620) has one point, that mentions “Oct 2001 Illegal sale and farming of Bt cotton in Gujarat”.
Since Cornell university, in collaboration with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, created a sob story of pesticide usage in brinjal, and used that sob story to do research on Bt brinjal, we can expect Monsanto/Mahyco and our glorious regulators to be pleasantly surprised when most of the brinjal in India have the Bt gene. You can be sure, that right now, there are brinjal varieties in the local market that “mysteriously” carry the Bt gene (besides being herbicide tolerant). The story, will ofcourse be, that someone brought it from Bangladesh. I found a brinjal variety that had a kind of unnatural fluorescence in a shop, but didn’t buy it. The only saving grace in all this, is that without all the support structures, and herbicides (Roundup), GM crops, will not thrive. No wonder, our truly Indian GM mustard, did not stop with putting good features into the mustard. It had to bring herbicide tolerance, before it can be marketed. Otherwise, a crop that produces such tiny seeds, will slowly lose all its genetic modification, through cross-pollination. One will have to kill all competition with herbicides.
Getting back to indigenous cows, of late, a new kind of heroic act is going on. Certain folks are getting high milk yielding Bos indicus cows from Brazil. Why? Because Brazil imported those cows from India, and then through “selective breeding” made it “better”. At what point does milk stop being milk? A native cow, on a very limited diet, of say Co-4 grass, and maize stalks, is less of a cow. Now if we come up with a native breed, that gives 10 litres or 20 a day, is that still milk, or some breakdown product of cow’s metabolism? Some of the native cows, grazing in the forests, give less than a litre a day. This milk, rich from the herbs that the cow grazes, is real, health giving milk. But the eunuchs of science, will not have it otherwise. And cows ecological purpose, from enriching dung, is simultaneously lost.
Just to get a real cow, and real dung, we have to go back so many steps. Ah, the beauty of science!
Anyway, for the experiment here, I cannot say for certain, that I started with pure native breed dung. But from the smell, and appearance, and the fact that of the two cows, one was pure (the other mixed), I can say, that the dung was good.
Jeevamrutha, like concoctions that farmers dream of, varies, depending on what is available. The main ingredients are of course native cow dung, urine, jaggery, pulses, and handful of forest soil. Sprouts, coconut water, toddy, fruits, medicinal leaves, or seeds, are added.
There is lots of intuitive wisdom in combining things, it is not the witches brew of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
One ingredient I chose to skip, is cow’s urine. Didn’t want the powerful smell. The things that were added, in some random proportion, were dung, water, palmyra jaggery, sprouted ragi and sprouted green gram (moong dal), growing shoots of drumstick (moringa) and veldt grape (pirandai). They were mixed in a clay pot, covered and left in shade. Plastic is used these days, cement tanks are better. Best is clay, one can still find clay containers (water troughs) used to provide water to cattle. They can hold more than 50 litres. For a small experiment an easily available clay pot is sufficient.
The mixture was stirred with a stick, in the morning and evening. The solution in the pot, started frothing by the second day.
The photographs show the changes in sequence. The first slide shows random sprinkling of microbial cells, along with fragments of half digested plants, at 40x magnification.
The next two are at 100x, and the last one used the zoom on camera, to get a slightly higher magnification. There is a spiral strand in the bottom, a little hard to make out.
On day 2, it looks a little different. There are clusters of cells of various sizes, either cooperating or feeding off, of each other. This slide shows a spirulina segment. A couple more, in the next slide. Could that spiral have come from grass or a plant, that the cow ate? Unlikely, because of its tiny size, shown here at 100x magnification.
Here is a slide, that dried out, it shows clearly the cells of all sizes, grouped together.
Day 3 – this one shows an unusual cluster of same sized cells at top left. The photo is not very clear though.
Day 4, once again similar to the other days. There is a round big cell at the centre. Next to it, down slightly left, a cell undergoing division, looks like a broken egg.
More cells in this slide.
Day 5, little sharper photos. Lots of cells all over. The smaller cells look sharp in this photo. Closeup of the cells. Further magnification, at 400x, doesn’t reveal any more details. Requires better equipment, and staining of the cells, to see details inside. At higher levels of magnification x1000, one can see bacteria.
A fragment of undigested grass.
The edge of the droplet of Jeevamrutha solution, can be seen in this.
Peering into the microbial world is not reductionism, yet it is hard to see the connections, which makes one to lose the big picture. There is enough to indicate self-similarity, with the microcosm, operating in the same way as the macrocosm. One can see more lively stuff through a microscope, with a drop of water from a paddy field (untainted by chemicals). The easily visible larger fungal cells in Jeevamrutha, unfortunately, don’t actively move.
All this grand microbial activity, consumes the dung, and makes nutrition available to the plants. It is this, that has sustained plant and animal life. Billions of micro-organisms in just a few grams of solution. That can be used to bring the soil back to life, and create a favourable ecology for plant growth.
Natural farmers cannot outcompete the agro-industries, government and the regulators, with propaganda, rules, and punishment for non-compliance. They have to take a leaf out of the Big-Ag companies book, and do it quietly.
The same way GM crops suddenly started showing up in India. There are people in government, in bureaucracy, police, or elsewhere, who don’t subscribe to the dominant paradigm, thrust top-down from UN, WHO, Bill Gates Foundation, CATO Institute, or other, New World Order organisations. It is these people, who can keep the world sane. Not our “leaders”. Most “leaders” are caught in circumstances, that they cannot escape. Same thing with regulators, they can’t hope to keep their jobs, if they stand in the way of industries, pushing their “bestest” solution, on the population.
Does anyone remember how Obama railed against American invasion of Iraq, or against the huge American debt? How did the pre-election Obama, turn against his own ideals, and expand American intervention abroad, creating chaos in the Middle East, while increasing government debt? Would Trump be different? His position is similar to Obama’s ideals. Very unlikely, but at least he provides entertainment. In a world of social justice warriors, feminism, micro-aggressions, and political correctness, he’s irrepressible. That behavior, by itself, frees people from the suffocating emptiness of nice talk. On the other side, we have another brave guy, Duterte. Could there be many Indians who can relate to Trump? Doubtful. For we have our own ideal world, unquestionable and un-criticizable – desh bhakt citizens, Aadhaar enabled for total surveillance, fully taxed, vaccinated and medicated, in tune with the lofty ideals of UN and WHO. Living the packaged life, convenient and cashless, as regulated mindless coolies, in high-rises, in massive cities, promoted by the Mckinsey Boys (consultants to world governments).
Fragmented scientific solutions like synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides, clever and perfect in isolation, have led to more work, more problems, and more poisoning of the land and ourselves. Natural farming, seeks to revert that. The micro-organisms just by living their life, create richness, and abundance. Man with all his cleverness, that came from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, cannot create a wholesome solution, that nature, undisturbed, provides with ease.