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Akash Chaurasia has taught over 12,000 people about multi-layered farming.

Multi-layered farming makes it possible to produce more crops on less land. Akash Chaurasia, a pioneer of the movement, is at the helm. With over 20 national accolades to his name, the 32-year-old has trained over 80,000 farmers and taught about 12 lakh people in multi-layered farming.

He grew up in Sagar, a small town in Bundelkhand, Madhya Pradesh, in a family of betel nut farmers, to become a doctor. He realized that what we eat and drink is the basis of all evil.” And he decided to attack the source of the problem through agriculture.

The discovery of multi-layered agriculture

After getting involved in farming, Akash visited various farmers and began to think about all the concerns they face today, from water and fertilizer issues to climate change and the onslaught of pests. insects, through marketing and sales.

So, in 2014, as a solution to all these problems, he came up with the concept of growing different crops on the same plot of land. He started by planting two layers of crops, one below and one above. Tomatoes and bitter gourd were his first crops, and he also tried other combinations.

Akash soon encountered his first set of obstacles, grass and weeds. Seeds produce a lot of weed, weaken the crop, and getting rid of them is expensive.

To compensate for this, he added green crops similar to those grown on the surface, such as spinach, cilantro, fenugreek and others. By planting fast-growing leafy crops, there is less room for grass. Grass is about 80% managed inside this model.

Advantages of multi-layer farming

The different crop layers prevent water from evaporating. Compared to an open field, approximately 80% of the water is retained. While an open field uses 100 liters of water for one crop, a multi-layered farm uses only 30% of this amount for four crops. Each crop grows with approximately 7% water. »

In addition, compared to a fair in the open field, approximately 93 liters of water are saved.

Grow crops all year round

With the four crop varieties, the farmer also derives a parallel income from each. For example, from March to July, leafy green vegetables, in this case spinach, provide income to the farmer.

From April to November, creepers, like scarlet gourds, bear fruit. In August, the underground crop like ginger ripens and becomes available for sale. And from December to January, the papaya tree bears fruit. There is not a single week when his income is not generated. His model makes farmers more economically independent. Akash himself has an annual income of Rs 30 lakh.

First published: June 26, 2022, 12:09 IST