Amrik’s family had been farming for generations, but for him, farming was a second act. Amrik had spent several successful years providing parts to Mahindra Automotive, and only returned to the family farm in near Pundri, in 2007.
The farm grew primarily wheat and rice using conventional techniques, but Amrik was already skeptical of chemical-based farming, fearing that it was affecting his family’s health. However, it was not until Amrik tested his farm’s soil in 2008 that organic farming stopped being an interest and became a calling. Amrik’s farm scored below the minimum healthy score, indicating that his land was not healthy enough grow crops without huge amounts of chemical fertilizers. Since it was chemical use that had led to his soil’s decline in the first place, Amrik decided to do something different, and after consulting with scientists and agronomists he moved to organic in 2009.
The first year after going organic was hard—growing food in the depleted soil without fertilizers resulted in much lower yields. Amrik wasn’t discouraged, and remained convinced that it would eventually produce results. More than that, he was not willing to go back to chemical agriculture. He thought the reliance on chemicals and pesticides had long produced lower quality crops, and believed they were largely responsible for a range of health problems plaguing his family.
Six years after going organic, Amrik does not regret his decision for a second. He feels his family’s health has improved, and the farm is thriving, with fruit orchards and vegetable plots that intersperse the old wheat and rice fields. He’s adopted many new innovative techniques, including microsprinklers that reduce water consumption by 40% and fertilizers that harness wood chips, earthworm-churned soil, and other biomass, that have farmers and scientists from across the globe coming to visit his farm. The highlight of his accomplishments as an organic farmer was his selection as the only farmer from Haryana to accompany the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) delegation to Malaysia for an international conference on organic farming.
Amrik believes it is our responsibility to gift future generations healthy, fertile soil so that farming can continue to be a viable livelihood. He’s already done his part—when he re-tested his soil in 2013, after 4 years of organic farming, it showed that his farm was one point away from the healthiest possible soil. He hopes to continue to learn about and implement the best possible organic techniques, and to see them spread throughout Haryana, and, eventually, throughout India.
More information about Amrik
Supplies: Vegetables and Fruits
Farming Since: 2007
Organic Since: 2009