Fukuoka Masanobu, a Japanese advocate of natural farming said, “With this kind of farming, which uses no machines, no prepared fertilizer and no chemicals, it is possible to attain a harvest equal to or greater than that of the average Japanese farm.”
BY LYN V. RAMO
Posted by Bulatlat
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet (256 kms. north of Manila)– Fukuoka Masanobu, a Japanese advocate of natural farming was immortalized in a documentary film, amid skepticism among teachers and students who study modern agriculture in the Benguet State University (BSU) here Thursday.
Fukuoka got the 1988 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. In the same year, he also received the Desikottam Award from Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Translated, the citation read: “You are a shining star in the Universe. . . ”
Brought in by a team from the Baguio-based Japanese Association in Northern Luzon and a Japanese film-maker, the documentary on the Fukuoka method of natural farming was filmed mostly when the great-grandfather of Japanese natural farming went to India and visited a then ten-year old natural farm in a village many kilometers from Mumbai.
The film was intermittently interrupted either by laughter or sighs of disbelief as Agriculture and Development Communications students notice differences in Fukuoka’s principles and the methods they have started to learn or have lived with.
In one instance, when the film showed the Japanese guru telling India farmers to enjoy sowing seeds like a child at play, there was disbelief among students. Fukuoka said they could use the tirador (slingshot) to throw the seeds.
An uproar of laughter filled the hall when the interpreter said “No plowing, no watering, no weeding, no pesticide, no fertilizer, no nothing. No, thank you!” Modern agriculture, on the other hand, requires that the plots be plowed repeatedly to rid it of weeds.
“You practically do nothing but sow seeds,” the translator’s voice was flat but it did not escape the ears of agriculture students.
Not organic farming
The Fukuoka method contradicts modern farming methods that include arrangement and design even in seedbed preparation until transplanting, where occasional weeding takes a lot of work hours from farmers.
“Unlike natural farming where we leave everything on the ground to grow in their natural habitat, we now teach students that agriculture is also an art, as well as a science,” BSU President Roger Colting told the presenter Koji Ima Izumi, a film-maker who accompanied Fukuoka for two weeks in India.
This method is not organic farming, Izumi clarified. “Natural farming does not use animal manure or compost. It does not use any fertilizer,” he said.
The timing and circumstances of Fukuoka’s conversion from Western agricultural science, parallels the new movement in the 1940s to organic farming and gardening in Europe and the US. However, Fukuoka himself believed he was going a step further than organic farming.
“The problem, however, is that most people do not yet understand the distinction between organic gardening and natural farming. Both scientific agriculture and organic farming are basically scientific in their approach. The boundary between the two is not clear,” he clarified in his book The Road Back to Nature.