The NPKisation of agriculture has been the bane of our food production. NPK mentality of synthetic nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium-based fertilisers has led to depletion of vital micronutrients and trace elements such as magnesium, zinc, calcium and iron. But we have never given thought to it and the farmers not educated about its absence in our crops, vegetables and fruits.
David Thomas, a geologist-turned-nutritionist, discovered that between 1940 and 1991, vegetables had lost – on an average – 24 per cent of their magnesium, 46 per cent of their calcium, 27 per cent of their iron and no less than 76 per cent of their copper (Ref: David Thomas “A study on the mineral depletion of the foods available to us as a nation over the period 1940 to 1991”, Nutrition and Health, 2003; 17(2): 85-115).
Carrots had lost 75 per cent of their calcium, 46 per cent of their iron, and 75 per cent of their copper. Potatoes had lost 30 per cent of their magnesium, 35 per cent calcium, 45 per cent iron and 47 per cent copper.
To get the same amount of nutrition, people will need to eat much more food.
How does one bring back the micronutrients and trace elements in our food?
Jitendra Kutmutia of Malegaon’s Nisarga Prem, a four-acre farm off the Dhule Road, has shown the way. A follower of the Natueco farming technique which follows the principles of eco-system networking of nature, the 60plus farmer got a soil analysis done. The report is an eye-opener.
- Organic carbon: 5.29%
- Nitrogen 542 kg/ha
- Phosphorus : 144 kg/ha
- Potassium: 3147 kg/ha
- Magnesium 146 mg/kg
- Calcium: 518 mg/kg
- Manganese: 5.46 mg/kg
- Iron: 2.02 mg/kg
- Copper: 0.487 mg/kg
- Zinc: 1.31 mg/kg
Kutmutia didn’t stop at that, he got a kilo of bottlegourd grown in his farm chemically analysed. The report not only was astounding but unbelievable leading the Nashik-based Ashwamedh Engineers and Consultants to repeat the test.
A 100g of bottlegourd contained 7.81g of protein, calcium 15.2mg, magnesium 5.18mg, iron 0.936 mg and 3 mg vitamin B12.
This is likely to settle the issue that ‘true’ organic food is nutritious compared to what is grown by industrial agriculture.