Sustainably:Visiting Two Vegan Organic Farms in Asia
Halo, eco-wise viewers, and welcome to Planet Earth: Our Loving Home.
This week we feature two vegan organic farms run by our Supreme Master
Ching Hai International Association members, one in Rajasthan, India and
the other in Formosa (Taiwan)'s Hualien County.
The Rodale Institute in the United States defines organic farming as
follows: “Organic is a method of farming and gardening that relies on
natural systems and products, and is free of virtually all synthetic and
toxic chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides.
Let us first head to Rajasthan which is located in northwestern India.
Three-fifths of the state is occupied by the Thar Desert and 40% of the
state's population lives in this arid region. Extending into Pakistan,
the Thar Desert is 200,000 square kilometers in size and is the seventh
largest desert in the world.
Temperatures in the desert can climb very high, reaching 50 degrees
Celsius or more in May and June. The desert sand can reach a scorching
70 degrees Celsius during the hottest days of the year. Water is very
scarce in the Thar Desert, with yearly rainfall being less than 250
millimeters and 90% of the precipitation occurring during the monsoon
season which is between July and September.
Gajendra Singh is an Association member and the co-founder of the Ching
Hai School, a Rajasthan-based institution established in 2006 in honor
of Supreme Master Ching Hai. Its mission is to provide an excellent
education to the local children as well as spread the noble message of
vegetarianism to the students and their families.
Mr. Singh also has a vegan organic farm near the school which grows
cotton, millet, cumin and crops in the dry desert environment.
Singh(m): Now I'm going to show you an Indian
organic farm. This farm is totally organic. Here we don't put any
chemicals in these crops. Mostly in other parts of India, people put a
lot of chemical spray on the cotton, but here in Rajasthan, in this
field, particularly this village, we don't have to put any chemicals on
the cotton. And we get good crops.
HOST: What is the primary water source for the farm?
Singh(m): The water here is also very good because we have a 400-feet
[120 meters] deep well. We get water from there. We drink the same
water. We've no need to clean it, because it's automatically very clean.
And it's sanctified. The water is the best. There's no germs.
HOST: Vegan organic farming benefits the environment enormously. By
avoiding the use of chemical pesticides, it raises crop yields, enhances
soil fertility, conserves water and ensures biodiversity in
agriculture. A study by researchers at the University of Michigan, USA
found that with organic farming methods, farmers in developing countries
can triple crop production.
Singh(m): It's economically very good if you don't put the chemicals.
Organic cultivation is the best if you don't want to spend a lot of
money. If you are in a desert, if you don't want to destroy the
environment, grow this way. You get good value, good money without
chemicals, without destroying the environment.
Singh(m): Here we are in a cotton field. We took more than 90% of the
cotton already. This is the rest of the cotton. Because in the end of
February, we had to cut the cotton, all the cotton. When we take all the
cotton away, the rest is nothing. Either you can burn it in the fire,
or we use it as a very good fertilizer.
When we take all the cotton away, by tractor or by camel, we put all the
clay on the top of this. After four, five months, these things become a
very nice fertilizer. Then we grow nice millet in July.
HOST: Crop rotation, growing a planned order of specific crops in the
same field, prevents the depletion of soil nutrients and improves soil
Singh(m): But after we cut the millet in August, or September, then we
again grow cotton, because the millet field becomes a very good
fertilizer for the cotton field. So we don't have to put the (chemical)
spray on it. We don't use a machine; we don't have a machine (for
planting). We always plant all by hand. This is the seed. You see it?
Singh(m): This seed is inside. I will show you how you put it. We just
make a hole and put it like that. And we do it every two feet, on the
whole (plot of) land like that.
HOST: We now shift to Hualien County in Formosa (Taiwan) to meet our
Association member and the director of the Zhi-xue vegan organic farm,
Mr. Chen Chun-Hung. Occupying 40-hectares, his vegan organic farm is the
second largest by area on the island and is recognized as a model
organic farm by the government.
Some of the crops grown on the land include sweet corn, papaya, tomato,
passion fruit, lemon, ginger, sweet potato, cabbage, lettuce, spring
onion, chili pepper, lady finger (okra), and celery.
Chen: Basically in organic farming, we don't use insecticides,
weed-killers or chemical fertilizer. Aside from these three, we respect
and follow the law of nature and apply it to our farming system to
HOST: Mr. Chen is a practicing veterinarian and also has a degree in
Chinese herbal studies from China Medical University. In 2002 he founded
The Herbs Association of Hualien County and is the supervisor of the
Hualien County Chinese herb production unit.
He only began cultivating crops in 2000. For those wishing to enter the
field of vegan organic agriculture, Formosa (Taiwan) has a wealth of
Chen: We visit professional organizations such as Agricultural Research
and Extension Stations or agricultural institutes to learn from them. In
Formosa (Taiwan), there are many Agricultural Research and Extension
Stations that offer training courses. You can get to know many experts
and teachers in this field and can gain a lot of knowledge from them.
HOST: From Mr. Chen's perspective, what are some of the ways that vegan organic farming benefits the Earth?
Chen: So when we are growing organic food, we are also nourishing the
land. Land maintenance is a very important concept. When the land is
nourished, all the plants will thrive and the ecosystem will be in
balance. For example, on our farm, you can see lots of pheasants, bamboo
partridges, rabbits, and even snakes, rats, earthworms, and many other
Organic farming can help reduce global warming. It's because the
chemical fertilizer, weed killer and other chemical factories consume a
lot of energy. Also, when the chemicals flow into lakes, rivers, and
oceans, they cause the death of coral reefs They also cause algal blooms
in the waters. So I appeal to everyone to support organic farming and
buy organic products.
HOST: Mr. Chen will now introduce us to some of the fine crops cultivated on his land.
Chen: We have planted some vegetables in large quantities. We have
passion fruit, pumpkins, papaya, guava, and some special herbs, such as
Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng) and Eleutherococcus
trifoliatus (Scandent shrub) grown locally in Hualien. We also grow
sweet corn. This is the sweet corn we cultivated.
If we harvest sweet corn at the stage when the kernels exude a milky
substance, they have a thinner skin and they contain a lot of water. So
after picking it, you can eat it raw. It tastes as sweet as a fruit and
it is very juicy. It's delicious and it's a high energy food. I strongly
recommend it to everyone.
Supreme Master TV: So apart from fruits and vegetables, do you have other special agricultural products?
Chen: Besides growing fresh fruits and vegetables, we also make them
into processed food, by adding enzymes or vinegar. We also make dry
fruits. We dehydrate the fruits and vegetables under low heat, and turn
them into powder and then add it into breakfast packs. In addition, we
also grow some medicinal herbs, which are very beneficial for health.
HOST: We thank Gajendra Singh and Chen Chun-Hung for sharing some of
their precious knowledge about the wonderful field of vegan organic
farming. Vegan organic agriculture is the best solution to world hunger
and climate change. May all farmers soon adopt this style of cultivation
to help lead our planet to a better and brighter future!