Permaculture is a fusion of the words ‘Permanent’ and ‘culture’. The term was devised by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in 1978. In Mollison’s words, permaculture can be defined as the “conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. All this is achieved with a harmonious integration of landscape and people sustainably. The farms are designed in such a way that it promotes the coexistence of competing plants species. Currently, more than 3 million people practice permaculture across 140 countries.

Permaculture benefits claims

The practitioners of permaculture claim that as the population is increasing, there is increasing pressure to produce more food. The modern method of monoculture is not a sustainable method of growing food where a large area of land is used for only one crop and lots of chemical fertilizers are required to sustain the crop production. This also puts immense pressure on the topsoil and the soil loses its fertility and more fertilizers are required to maintain the productivity and output. Monoculture is discouraged by permaculturists because it promotes farming with a commercial-driven mindset and only selected varieties of crops and plants are grown that are commercially viable. Sometimes wild and uncultivated foods like tubers and millets are sidelined from the people’s diet even though when they are just if not more nutritious than any other food. Practicing permaculture can help small farmers to be more self-sufficient in producing their food and not rely on external input. Farmers also get the opportunity to grow large varieties of fruits, grain, and vegetables under a single roof. But it’s more than just self-sufficiency and the farm itself generates manure and this helps in saving the fertilizer costs. There is even more, as perennial plants are a structural part of the permaculture, this means that plants don’t require regular tending. This reduces the labor expenses as well. It also allows the plants to endure harsh weather conditions like the heavy downpour in monsoons or winters.

Challenges and future

Modern conventional agriculture science has been a boon in terms of production quantity as a whole but still, there are lots of problems that we are facing right now due to the use this form of farming. The focus should also be on the quality first and then quantity. What modern agriculture science has done is that it has separated the farmer from the soil. The focus and research are on the yields and nutritive properties of plants. Food has to come from the soil and most of the solutions are available in nature itself. Permaculture provides a pragmatic and efficient way for our subsistence farmers to produce food. In India where small farmers are the majority and they will also face immense pressure from the dangers of climate change and the increasing constraints on resources, epically water. Then there is the monetary issue as well. Permaculture helps in this case as the food is closer to the producer and there is less wastage of food. This makes food production economical and sustainable in a long run. Still replacing permaculture with traditional agriculture will not be easy and practical, but with small steps, it can emerge as a viable way to produce food and maintaining the ecology of the planet.