Farming – Is It The New Pot of Gold?

Green Is The New Gold - 3Jim Rogers the legendary investor, financial whiz kid and author says, “If you want to become rich, become a farmer….We don’t require more bankers.  What we need are more farmers”.   With the exponential population growth expected to reach 10 billion by 2050 – not that far off – UN has questioned the “long-term viability of the human species itself”. Dire predictions by economists have been around for more than a decade now on the global food production and they have not been far off the mark as we see the future unfolding. Green will be New Gold as the future unfolds and the signs are everywhere.

Year on year we are seeing an increasing global population of the hungry.  Most countries have woken up to the fact and started shoring up their food supply lines.  The cash-rich Chinese and the Saudi Arabians are grabbing huge chunks of land in Africa, Brazil, Ukraine, Australia to name a few countries, to feed their burgeoning population in the future.  Many of the countries in Africa and Asia which figure prominently in this list are already struggling with food shortages and starvation.  They will be compromised further by the rich nations to protect their own population.

Food is going to be the biggest challenge and, also the Mega opportunity of the future.  Individuals, businesses, countries and the entire world have to decide now, before it is too late, where the billion dollar investments are going to be.  Not for their own countries, but for the world as a whole and for the very survival of the human species.  In an increasingly connected world, the hungry will cause revolutions and there will be chaos through the world if the challenge of food is not met.  No country can afford to ignore their neighbours while their own food bowls are filled.  The world leaders have to decide whether they want to invest in the mindless proliferation of cities or develop the rural agricultural and sustainable living for the entire population of the world.  The explosion of the mega cities the world over has to be stopped and population redistributed to take care of the shortages in rural agricultural employment.

As Jim Roger says, “The world has got a serious food problem.  The only real way to solve it is to draw more people back to agriculture.”

So the future biz is not IT, Automobiles or Oil but Farming.  Consigned to obscurity and neglect, now the farms and the farmers are coming into their own.  Some of the leading investors, hedge funds, and finance professionals are now putting the money in their mouths literally.  Food is the big buzzword in all the happening parties of the billionaires.  To quote Jim Rogers again “Stock brokers will be driving taxis in the next few years. The farmers are going to be driving Lamborghinis.”

The trend is clearly visible.  In the last count, there were 17 Fortune 500 companies (Revenues in excess of $ billion +) engaged in direct agribusiness and farming operations, not counting the global giants in food grain and agricultural commodities trading.  Cargill is one such noteworthy International conglomerate and ranked 9th in the Fortune 500 list.

International Institute of Environment and Development estimates that more than 190 private equity funds were investing in agriculture and farmlands, and these investor breed is increasing every day as the gold rush for the green gathers momentum.

Let’s look at some interesting facts on how the farmers are going to be rich and farming to become the profession of choice if you want a wealthy lifestyle.

  • The World population has increased from 2 billion 50 years ago to over 6.5 billion now with almost 1 billion of the population going hungry every day.
  • Food Prices globally has doubled in the last decade as per the FAO Food Price Index. This is a global index and the increases may be much more depending on which part of the world you live in.
  • The world population close to 7 billion currently and will touch 10 billion by 2050. An increase of almost 50% in the market size with a huge and increasing appetite for more food unless some miraculous product makes eating optional!
  • Availability of arable land is falling rapidly due to urbanisation, soil erosion and desertification. There is no way cultivable land is going to increase unless we colonise Moon and Mars and find a way to grow food there in a controlled climate.
  • Increasing chemical use is depleting the capacity of the earth to regenerate and the farm produce is decreasing year after year. Climate change, soil erosion and depletion of ground water will further add to the challenge.
  • Global water shortage of the future is well documented and even the next world war is predicted to be water wars. So, people who control land, water and seeds will be very rich.

Interestingly Indians, Indian corporations and offshore entities owned by Indians are some of the biggest Farm Sector investors in the world having massive agricultural holdings in African, Asia-Pacific and Latin American countries like Uganda, Senegal, Ukraine, Australia, Argentina & Brazil.

Coming back to our own country, many of the educated have already started to take up full-time farming, quitting their 6 figure salaries.  Just surf the net and you will see the happy stories of hundreds of people who quit high paying jobs realising the great promise farming holds in the future and for the quality and sustainability of lifestyles the farming sector provides.  Farming comes with the perks of peace of mind, less stress and no deadlines day in and day out.

In Chennai, and around such as Kanchipuram, Chengalpet and Maduranthakam where the author lives, is itself dotted  with hundreds of educated farmers.  The Author has also met dozens of highly educated people who have taken to farming and leading happy lives and bringing a revolutionary change to the very methods of scientific organic farming around the community they live in.

So if you are one of those who are investment savvy and take the future in big strides, you know where your money should be headed.

Srinivasan Gopal

This article was published in the July 2015 issue of KisanWorld

Green is the New Gold – 2

Managing Water

In India, everyone knows what ‘Ram Rajya’ is. Ram Rajya is an ideal state, an ideal society, where everyone lives in peace and tranquility brought about by abundant wealth. All had equal opportunities and enough work to live a prosperous life under a benign state. Interestingly Ram Rajya under king Rama was predominantly an agrarian state around 3500 BC and prosperity came about due to abundant rains, good agricultural practices and a thriving green economy.

Here’s where the story of India or Bharat as a most powerful agricultural economy in the world starts when people in most parts of the world were still aboriginals.

The first ever treatise on Agriculture in the world was written by the Sage Parashara. The sages called rishis in India were the original Vedic scientists who lived in small isolated communities in the forest and used nature as their live laboratory. They observed nature closely and evolved the principles of scientific living for the community. One such Rishi is the Rishi Parashara who evolved the entire agricultural science including water management. His work is called ‘Krishi Parashara’. Incidentally, Parashara is the grandson of Maha Rishi Vashishta who was the Kulaguru of Dasaratha and teacher of Rama. He has dealt at length about rains, rain forecasting, rain measurement and using the rain propitiously for raising crops. His work comprises of the entire theory of agriculture beginning with the astronomy and meteorology of rains, treatment of seeds, preparation of the field, ploughing and sowing, harvesting and proper storage of the grains. His treatise begins in the traditional salutations to Prajapati, the creator and protector of the Universe, and ends with thanksgiving to goddess Lakshmi for bestowing prosperity and wealth.

Do you make the connection with Ram Rajya and prosperity through agriculture!

Now back to the 21st century, what is the learning that we can derive from the extensive knowledge base left to us from ancient times? And to re-emphasise this is an extensive knowledge base that can create wealth for the individual as well as the country. What are the important resources that we need to manage and extract the highest value out of agriculture? How do we produce economically that would leave a substantial surplus after the basic cost of farming any crop?

To start with, for a sustainable low-cost agricultural produce, we need to manage three important resources – Sun, Water and Land. Two of these, the Sun and Water comes to us free or can be made totally free with a little planning and management. Land though a limited resource is enough to produce and feed the 1 billion population provided sustainable agricultural practices are adopted. Of the three, the major concern of all agriculturists is that of water. When you travel across India, the scenario is of a vast barren terrain and uncultivated land. Everywhere the refrain is that there is not enough water for agriculture.

Where does all the water go from the melting snows and a good amount of rains that generally we have? What happened to an abundant reservoir of water available which flowed perennially through a network of interconnected fractures in the rocks underground?

To save the river waters that get lost in the sea is mainly dependent on the govt policy and investments made by the government. As an individual we have little control over the huge loss of water due to poor planning. But also as individuals we have a fair opportunity to harness the rains and use it judiciously for all our farming needs. For centuries, we have been taking and consuming the abundant water reservoirs underground, without putting back much except what little nature is able to do on its own. Imagine what would happen, if without earning money, we continue to spend what is left to us by our forefathers. One day the bank would go bust and we would be left as paupers. This is the story of our ground water. We have taken extravagantly from the huge bank of water underground without putting back any and now we are left with little to sustain us for future. We cannot stop the extraction of water, but we can definitely replenish it.

Water is depleting fast. The rivers, the borewells, the ground water are all drying up fast. If we as a society do not take sufficient steps, the future generations, indeed the very human civilization is under threat of extinction.

There are very simple ways each farmer can make water available for his needs in plenty. Recharging our ground water is possible by using simple techniques that can help overcome water shortages to a great extent. Although a little knowledge of geographical and hydrological factors may help, but it is not a limiting factor for improving groundwater by any farmer.

While water conservation is a very vast subject and matter of scientific development, it is still possible for the average person to contribute effectively to replenish water all around him. There are several methods of recharging ground water, capturing the rain run-offs, building bunds and creating massive natural storage tanks and manmade structures.

For the average farmer without much of technical knowledge there are four methods to artificially recharge the ground water without any outside support.

1. Recharging abandoned and low yielding wells
2. Putting up recharge pits near hand pumps and bores
3. Multiple small recharge pits & trenches through the farm
4. Recharge Ponds

Let’s see how each one is designed.

Recharging Abandoned and low yielding wells

Dry or unused wells are a good place to start the recharge process in a farm. The contour mapping of the farm has to be done to assess the gradient of the farm and the maximum water accumulation point needs to be assessed. From this point to the well a trench can be built or water can be directed through a pipe to the well. As the water would be flowing carrying the top soil a small filtration pit can be built near the well to retain the soil and water discharged into the well. This would help the aquifers in and around the well to get recharged through the porous walls of the well.

The bottom of the Well should be cleared of the fine silt deposits once annually before the rains.
If there is a building adjacent to the well, the rooftop should be used to drain the water through a pipe to the well. Water collected in the roof would be much cleaner and help avoid the silt formation in the well. Direct rainwater harvesting can also improve the quality of water. The rooftop needs to be cleaned before the rains to have clean water flowing into the well.

Recharge Pits near a Hand Pump and Bore Wells

This is perhaps one of the best methods for recharge around dry hand pumps or dry bore wells. A pit is dug around the bore well of 10x10x10 with the casing of the bore at the centre. A larger casing which can be slid over the existing casing is then perforated uniformly with holes of 8-10 mm at 3 inches gap. This is now wrapped with multiple layers of fine aqua and nylon mesh to filter any dirt and silt. This pipe is slid over the existing bore casing and firmly cemented at the base of the pit. 6 to 8 feet of casing pipe can effectively percolate 10000 litres of water per hour in good rains. Around pit first large stones are packed firmly for 2-3 feet height. Over these 2 feet granites are filled for 3-4 feet. Over this a 40 mm granite jelly is filled for 1-2 feet. For good measure charcoal can be filled before packing in the top layer with 20 mm granite jelly. Over this one foot of sand is filled as a first layer of filtration of fine silt and dirt. With this, the pit around the bore well is completely packed. This would not only ensure better availability of water but also high quality clean sweet water that is also potable and can be used for drinking purposes. The top layer of sand would get covered with silt which needs to be cleaned every year before the rains and fresh sand needs to be filled up over the pit.
Multiple Small Recharge Pits & Trenches through the Farm

For constructing recharge pits, it is essential to have a high degree of permeability or rocky substrate. Generally at around 10 feet, the soil turns loose and permeable. There are also underlying rocky substrate which have its fractures through which the water reaches aquifers and ground water storage increases. Once the permeability of the soil is established, it is best to dig 10x10x10 feet trenches as described above. At the bottom, large granite stone may be thrown in. Over this, we can pour granites of 10-15 mm and over this we may fill up sand up to the surface, all at 3-4 feet intervals. Depending on the size of the farm, several such recharge pits on the farm can help effectively recharge the ground water. For smaller farms, these trenches may be of small size of 5 x 5 x 5 feet which would help recharge the groundwater over a period of time.
These recharge pits should be built to capture the runoff water of the farm. A contour mapping of the farm may be undertaken to assess the gradient through which the runoff water flows over the farm or a moderate gradient can be created to capture water at one end of the farm.

Regularly the silt over the sand can be cleaned and fresh sand filled before the rains to help improve the water soaking to the base of the pit and further into the fractures and aquifers.

Recharge Ponds

Recharge ponds or infiltration ponds are the favoured medium for rainwater harvesting in mid sized and large farms. They effectively store rainwater and infiltrate the water to aquifers which can be extracted through bore wells, and wells. These recharge ponds are generally built in permeable soil which can effectively capture it into the aquifers. They are normally built between 1 – 4 meters deep and at points in a farm which can capture the runoff water. They are shallow but deep enough to prevent algae and water hyacinths. These recharge ponds help improve the soil moisture and improve agriculture production even in dry conditions. These ponds also help in reducing the salinity in the ground water. These recharge ponds used to be the favourites in traditional farms but slowly disappeared from most farms in the greed to use all available area for cultivation and ultimately bringing down the crop cycles and yields from the farm.


It is much cheaper to recharge ground water than to build large storage structures above the ground. These storage structures could be reservoirs or large individual storage tanks. They all occupy scarce and expensive land which could be productively used for cultivation.

Underground storage is environment-friendly and helps reduce soil erosion and maintains the ecological balance in times of drought conditions. Every farmer must put in efforts to improve the water table for a sustainable future as well abundant produce and prosperity.
True wealth is to live happily. Living with nature, listening to the symphony of the birds, breathing oxygen-rich clean air, living healthy and fulfilling lives is richness. Chemical poisoning, pollution and sickness are not the wealth that we should seek. We need to redefine our belief and re-invent the value systems of our past where Green was the real Gold.

Law of Manifesting – How to Think

Whatever the life that we lead is the direct reflection of what we have in our mind. If the mind is filled with thoughts of fear, calamity, poverty or whatever negativities that a mind is capable of conjuring up, then life will be a mirror reflection of the thoughts.

The Law of Manifesting is a very clear and scientific principle. If you plant the seeds of a mango tree and expect to harvest apples, you are living in a world of delusion. Similarly, you cannot think of things going wrong and expect that the best will happen to you. If you expect that the day is going to be bad, you have planted the seeds of negative expectation. You cannot then expect the day to turn out to be good. If your thoughts are of lack of money you cannot expect the money to materialise. You have already seeded your mind with ‘No Money’ trees. So you cannot expect it to yield ‘Money’. You have to plant a ‘Money’ tree for it to bloom and flower and fruit into Money.

So here are a few ideas to grow the best fruiting trees in your mind.

Reduce the thoughts in your mind. Keep it empty as much as possible. It is better to be in a thoughtless mind frame rather than think negative thoughts.

Think only of positive things and outcomes for everything action that you take. Think of the best and you will get only the best. Create a visual imagery of the good things that you want in your life. Look at pictures. Collect the minute details of the stuff that you want and visualise it in all its colour, shape, size and glory. When your mind has nothing better to do start visualising it.

All our possessions give us some joy, comfort, pleasure. These are emotions that get satisfied when you achieve what you want. Whenever you wish to have anything and visualize it, also imagine the emotions attached with possessing the material or achieving the objectives.

Don’t bring the negativity of any kind, sadness, lack, and the unpleasant into your mind. Life is a Song of Pleasure, of Freedom. Make it joyful by thinking the right thoughts. I am reminded of the “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran.

Pleasure is a freedom song,
But it is not freedom.
It is the blossoming of your desires,
But it is not their fruit.
It is a depth calling unto a height,
But it is not the deep nor the high.
It is the caged taking wing,
But it is not space encompassed.
Ay, in very truth, pleasure is a freedom-song

Green is the New Gold – 1

There is a popular misconception that farming is not profitable and therefore not a good business or profession. Talk to any farmer and he will tell you that farming is only for the illiterates. It suits only those who have no education and it is best for people who can get educated to move away from farming. How wrong the whole concept is and how disastrous it has turned out to be for a nation which is predominantly a farming country.
60% of India’s population still live on farming. It is not too late to set right the mistakes of industrialization and misdirected western model of development.

But before we move on to the subject of sustainable agriculture and how it can create wealth for the individual as well as the country, we need to have a clear perspective of how and where we lost our agri-economy.

When the Portuguese landed in India in the 14th century, India was a land of plenty. Poverty existed moderately but not to the scale witnessed today. India had great cities, perennial rivers, and mines of precious stones, rich in minerals and individual wealth – a huge cache of jewelry in the possession of every person in the community. For the western traders the Indian spices turned out to be proverbial pot of gold.

Talking of Gold, the Portuguese, the British and the Europeans all flooded India with its gold to cater to the perennial hunger for and attraction to the yellow metal in exchange for the rich cotton textiles and spices. The early travelers from the West traded their spices and textiles in the west for huge returns. The discovery of India by the West was hailed as the discovery of the fabled land of treasures as expressed in the court of Portugal by Vasco Da Gama. India was an indeed an exciting discovery for the West.

Ancient India traditionally had been a land of farmers due to year round sunny climate, perennial rivers and a populace that thrived on its arable land that produced wealth for everyone. The rulers were rich with a revenue model that was benign and collected when the farmers produced and protected when there were insufficient rains. The rulers invested their surplus in huge temples which became the focal point of culture and arts. They built large tanks to capture and recharge the lands which produced the green gold. Though there were great urban centers, majority of the population lived in self sustaining communities and produced most of its requirements locally.

India had everything going for it with its green lifestyle and contributed 22% of the Global GDP before the advent of the British. One can well understand the economy of India by an estimate of Akbar’s treasury valued at £17.5 million in the year 1600 while that of the entire treasury of Great Britain 200 years later was valued at £17.5 million. Economic Historians have estimated that from 1 AD to 1800 AD India had the World’s largest economy. Modern economic historians have clearly blamed the British Raj and introduction of the western model of industrialization and colonization which neglected the proper development of the country.

The plunder of India is another story which is well documented and need not be elaborated here as our subject is how to gain back our wealthy lifestyles of the earlier centuries with the vast resources that we command even today.

We are still a resource rich nation with poor people. India has one of the best resources – The Sun – giving energy for a sustainable livelihood for all. It has excellent water through its perennial rivers. The science of converting these resources to food using traditional methods of cultivation that does not require GM seeds or chemical fertilizers are very much available with our farmers.

India’s expertise lies not in being the back office of the world. Its destiny lies in being the granary of the world. With sunny climate and availability of water we can help the world overcome the food shortages which is expected to widen year after year. In the bargain we can control one of the most essential product and a powerful economic tool. In just about 50 years, Nations and people who control food will control the world. India has the potential to be that country and regain the past glory and wealth of our nation. We have slipped for only a little over 200 years where as we have a history of being the wealthiest nation for 1800 years of recorded history. If we look at our scriptures, as far as the evolution of mankind, we have a history of being a very advanced nation with well developed science, economics and culture.

Manufacturing is not the right path for India. Western countries evolved as manufacturing countries due to its cold climatic condition which for a major part of the year was covered in snow. The people had to engage in gainful activities which could be conducted indoors in closed and protected conditions. Thus mass manufacturing evolved. Along with that they had to find markets to sell their products. The West then started exploring the world and finding and creating markets for their produce. As the need and demand got created for more of the stuff that people fancied they needed, automation was required. Thereby lies the entire tale of inventions, innovations and development of an artificial unsustainable lifestyles feeding upon itself.

It is saddening to see the rural India’s youngsters moving to cities leaving their farms behind. A graduation from a small town collage, an engineering degree from a lowly private university and an MBA from fame seeking politician’s low quality institution and an aspiration built up by the glamour seeking parents who want their children to work in a white collared job in air conditioned offices, is the dream of every farmer. A poor farmer dreaming of riches advice his children to seek the glitter and glamour of western lifestyle only to end up in frustrating employment which could not even feed him properly, living in unhygienic slums as the workers low pay cannot get him a decent living.

The educated must now return back to do what is our natural endeavor. Farming can create huge riches for India as our history has proven that. Sustainable farms can be developed without big investments as shown by our own agricultural scientists who discovered the ancient methods of sustainable agriculture. Great leaders like Nammalwar and Subhash Palekar have shown the way and proven that yields can be doubled or even tripled without any investments in genetically modified seeds or tractors or expensive fertilizers.

It has now been well established that an acre of land can produce an income of about Rs. 2-3 lacs if well planned and managed with year round cultivation. So what are these methods of cultivation? How does one manage it effectively to produce a good income and a comfortable living for a farmer?
We will explore these avenues in continuing series in “Green is the New Gold”.

Note from Author:

I first published this article in the ‘Kisan World’ A journal of Agricultural and Rural Development, published by Sakthi Sugars Limited.

R.G. Srinivasan

Quantum Create

I had always used the word Quantum Leap to mean a big leap, a sizable move covering a long distance or a major change. Most people I talk to use the term to mean a major move forward. But in physics from where the term originates, it means a very tiny move at the sub atomic levels, much smaller than the diameter of the nucleus of an atom. The only difference from the physical perspective of a quantum leap to sub atomic quantum leap is the significance and impact of the move itself.

In the Quantum Leap, the sub atomic particles – the neutrons, protons or quarks or even smaller levels as yet not fully understood – move from one point to another without passing through or traversing the intermediate points or space.

The sub atomic particles travel from one point to another simply by appearing from point A to point B. This transmutation or teleportation is still the subject of science fiction and not understood by the modern science or the physicists. The subatomic particles can also change at will from waves to particles and back to waves, move back and forth in time and change the levels of energy at will or as per the observers expectations. That’s another long subject and a little complex. But applying the same concept to Creation, you are the creator of your Universe.

I wrote this a couple of years back. This was the period when I started working on the principles of quantum creation.

“My favorite pastime is dreaming. Whenever and wherever possible, whether in the midst of meetings, a presentation, while working at my desk, while taking my bath or even while talking to people, I escape into my world of dreams. One part of my mind is conjuring up its own dream world while another part is engaged in the so called real world. Sometimes I wonder which is real and which an illusion.”

I take the quantum leap and am in places which I have never visited. This could be a place, I saw in the Discovery Channel, or had the visual impact of Vatican in my mind from a live telecast or even some fleeting scene of a geographic location from a movie. I day dream and am in exotic places all over the world.

As I create, I find them materializing in the real world. This is now more popularly referred to as the Law of Attraction. I call it the Quantum Creation. My Quantum Leaps have materialized into the real or the material world. I have traveled to many countries in the real world, many desires have become real as if I have a magic wand in hand. Sometimes the creation process is so fast, I am taken aback. Sometimes of course it takes several months, even years. But in my mind, I feel the unraveling of the secret. How the whole process of creation could be simple if only we believe in it.

In the Quantum world the subatomic particles gets from point A to B without traversing the intermediate space. But in the material world this may take a little more getting around to before you reach the object of your desire. As you acquire the expertise, you may be able to take the Quantum Leap yourself.

The fairy tales can come true.

Would you like to Quantum Create. Then join me in the journey and I will share several concepts and tricks to create all that you dream of and desire. Come back often for crazy ideas that may yet transform your life.