6 Sustainable Farming Courses That Empower India’s Farmers

Every Indian child growing up in the 1990s was taught in school all about the Green Revolution the nation was going through. The agricultural movement, introduced in 1967-68 and again in 1977-78, transformed India’s status from a food-starved nation to one of the world’s leading agricultural nations. The revolution included the introduction of mechanized farming equipment, irrigation systems, high-yielding seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers. While this has led to a huge increase in grain production in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, environmentalists like Dr. Vandana Shiva that the long-term consequences of the Green Revolution were negative.

Conservationists, ecologists, and experts believe that the overuse of chemical fertilizers and hybrid seeds has not only led to immense degradation in soil quality, but has also destroyed our vast wealth of native seeds and crops. The Green Revolution is also blamed by many experts for the financial and sociological problems that India has experienced in recent decades, including droughts, rural debt and an increase in farmer suicides. Because of these quantifiable arguments, and since India adopted the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the focus has shifted to the only method to repair the damage done: sustainable agriculture, also known as organic farming.

Sustainable Agriculture: Where India Stands Now

Sustainable agriculture, also known as sustainable agriculture and nature-positive agriculture, refers to agricultural practices that can meet today’s food and textile needs while preserving resources and skills for the needs of future generations. Those who follow sustainable farming practices incorporate principles that promote environmental health, profitability, and socioeconomic equity for farming communities. The system usually includes everyone in the food system, from farmers and retailers to consumers and waste managers – but it always has the producer or farmer as a very important base. A sustainable agricultural system, once fully implemented, will clearly benefit India’s food security and biodiversity conservation.

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And yet, as data from the Council on Energy, Environment and Water suggests, sustainable agriculture is far from the norm in our country. Only five percent of the country’s sustainable agriculture practitioners have been able to grow beyond five percent of the net sown area through natural farming practices such as crop rotation, agroforestry, rainwater harvesting, mulching and precision. Fewer than five million farmers (just four percent of the farming community) have adopted sustainable farming practices.

Sustainable farming courses

Given this data, providing more in-depth education on sustainable agricultural practices is the need of the hour. The Indian government has tasked an entire organization called the Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) with providing professional resources and technical support to farmers engaged in sustainable agriculture. Similarly, environmentalists like Dr. Shiva taught short courses on biodiversity conservation, seed management and natural agriculture at her Navdanya Earth University in Dehradun. But if you’re looking for courses other than these, here’s a list you can sign up for.

Organic Farming for Sustainable Agricultural Production, National Program for Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL)

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This eight-week course teaches students all about organic farming practices, product quality analysis, environmental impact assessment, health benefits of organic produce, and many other related topics. The course has no admission requirements, so it is accessible to all and awards a certificate upon completion. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to explore creating resource efficient farming systems for small farmers to further support the community.

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Postgraduate Diploma in Organic Farming and Food Production System, Institute of Good Manufacturing Practices India (IGMPI)

This distance or e-learning diploma program is a professional degree open to bachelor’s graduates and lasts from one to two years depending on student choice. The institute regularly offers module-based course materials, self-assessment tasks and practical projects on various aspects of organic farming and food production. Upon completion of the course, a certification is issued, after which one can work in areas such as organic food certification, quality assurance, product development and organic farming consultancy.

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Certificate Course Organic Farming, National Center for Organic Farming

The National Organic Farming Center was established as part of the National Sustainable Agriculture Mission (NMSA) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and operates through its regional centers in Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar, Jabalpur, Imphal, Nagpur and Panchkula. This particular course is a 30-day face-to-face course that also provides participants with field training. However, part of the course is now also taught online to give students in other regions the opportunity. A certificate will be issued at the end of the course.

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Certificate in Organic Farming, IGNOU

This six-month open distance learning course was developed with the help of the Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Agency (APEDA). You must have passed at least the 12th standard to qualify for this course. The course not only teaches organic farming and marketing methods, but also promotes independence and entrepreneurship.

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Certificate in Organic Farming, Sri Sri Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Trust

Developed by the founders of Art of Living, this course can last anywhere from six months to up to two years, depending on what you want to learn. You must have passed at least the 12th standard to apply. The course is taught at the Trust’s 100-acre campus in Bengaluru, where students learn the practices of organic farming for small and medium-sized farmers. It covers both production techniques and marketing and is certified upon completion of the course.

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Organic Farming Practices and Certification, Swayam

Initiated by the Government of India, this eight-week online course teaches farmers, students, scientists and entrepreneurs all about soil health, fertility and how to manage both through organic farming methods. After completing the course, all participants receive a certificate.

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