According to Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD – the UN body dealing with land degradation – by 2030 the world will need to be producing 50% more food than it currently does.
How we do that is a matter of major debate. It’s generally seen as a question either of improving farming techniques, ensuring water is used more efficiently, developing more potent fertilizers or growing more durable plants – perhaps via genetic mutation (GM).
Or you could try yogic farming – a technique we came across while interviewing delegates at Rio+20.
I should stress we have no proof it works – but the Brahma Kumaris Spiritual University – which has bases all round the world – swears by its effectiveness.
The theory goes as follows. In the same way people can feel good or bad vibrations from one another, seeds will react to the thoughts exposed to them.
It aims to combine thought-based meditative practices with methods of organic farming.
“What farmers are doing is that they are taking the seeds and they are giving them the power of positive thoughts, through a higher state of consciousness, through meditation,” Sister Jayanti from Brahma Kumaris told RTCC.
“Right from the process of having the seed in your hand, through plantation and care so that he seeds come to germination and further to be able to harvest, the whole process is through the power of meditation – individually but also families and communities both separately from the field but also at the field itself.”
Placed in a meditation centre, the seeds are treated with thoughts of peace, non-violence, love, strength and resilience for up to a month before sowing.
Meditations are then conducted remotely and in the fields during each phase of the crop growth cycle.
Another aim for Brahma Kumaris is to build farmers’ self-esteem and limit suicides – something they say has become a widespread problem in India.
While the concept of Yogic farming was born in India, it has now spread to European countries – including Italy.
Piero Musini is an Italian farmer who has applied Yogic principles on his small farm near Perugia.
He stresses that it is not a short-term commitment. In order to fully benefit from these techniques you need to give the land time to recover from fertilizers and nitrates – only then can it start to deliver.
VIDEO: Piero Musini on how Yogic farming has worked in Italy
“Yoga means connection. So really it means what you do with your thinking possibilities,” he explains.
“It takes a process of several years for the soil to regenerate itself [following conventional farming]… But after the few years, there is no different between this and the conventional farming system.”
“Of course you need a good farmer who knows what he is doing, because you have to alternative the products, or seed into the soil things which will give the nitrogen the things which you give chemically but in a natural way.”
But the key question is – can you measure the benefits in a quantifiable way?
A five-year study taking place in India aims to measure these benefits of Yogic Farming.
Working with 400 farmers, it aims to measure both the qualitative and the quantitative benefits of the system. With a year left on the study, the Brahmas Kumaris claim the results are positive.
“What they have found already is that the crop that comes from this particular method of yogic agriculture, the tomatoes for example has a higher vitamin C content, the wheat has a higher protein content,” explains Sister Jayanti. “So these are measurables that nobody can deny.”
VIDEO: Sister Jayanti from Brahma Kumaris on the potential of Yogic Farming