A. Thimmaiah, a former agriculture advisor in Bhutan and a top expert in organic and biodynamic agriculture, will join MUM faculty because he would like "to blend consciousness into the food and agricultural sector."
by Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa, USA, The Review and Achievements
Truly sustainable agriculture will now be a major offering of the Sustainable Living Department at Maharishi University of Management (MUM) thanks to the addition of new faculty member A. Thimmaiah, a former agriculture advisor in Bhutan and a top expert in organic and biodynamic agriculture.
Dr. Thimmaiah, who authored the national organic standards for Bhutan, will teach organic agriculture, biodynamic agriculture, and Maharishi Vedic Oganic Agriculture, both at the undergraduate level and in a proposed new MA program that could start as early as this fall.
His passion is "deep sustainability": farming that is "of the farmer, by the farmer, and for the farmer," he says. All of the needs of the farm, whether seeds, fertilizer, or natural pesticides, are met within the farm itself. It uses the least outside inputs, yet is commercially viable.
"Organic farming is not a mere substitution of toxic synthetic inputs with natural materials," said Dr. Thimmaiah. "Rather, it is a process of understanding and interacting with nature. Consciousness is key to farming that connects the farmer to the biorhythms, the five elements of nature, and the entire cosmos. A conscious farmer will have the wisdom to discriminate between the good agricultural methods and the practices that produce genetically modified food. Since MUM is the home of Consciousness-Based education, I wish to blend consciousness into the food and agricultural sector."
"The farmer is connecting with his own land," says Dr. Thimmaiah, whose expertise includes adopting farming methods that are appropriate to particular locales.
He says that most of the income of today's farmers goes toward seed, chemicals, and manure, typically resulting in debt and becoming tied to the factory approach. Farmers give up and move to the city. "That's not sustainability," he says.
Dr. Thimmaiah says the initial focus of the curriculum is organic. Students will gain hands-on experience on campus farming plots, including the campus greenhouses.
The next phase will be biodynamic farming, which goes beyond organic. MUM is working with the Demeter Association to jointly develop courses in biodynamic agriculture. The Demeter Association, which promotes biodynamic agriculture and certifies biodynamic farmed produce, recently invited Dr. Thimmaiah to be a member of their board.
This approach, which he says has its roots in Vedic agriculture, pays particular attention to lunar rhythms to determine the right dates for planting, sowing, and harvesting. It also uses low-dose preparations that are spread or sprayed on fields.
"Biodynamic is in line with the rhythms of nature, and the quality it produces is very high," Dr. Thimmaiah said.
He said that because of MUM's association with the national biodynamic organizations, students may have the opportunity to do internships on biodynamic farms. He also envisions the opportunity for students to become certified as biodynamic consultants or inspectors.
Ultimately the curriculum will progress to Maharish Vedic Oganic Agriculture, which integrates Vedic concepts into farming and is currently being developed in conjunction with experts in Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture.
The overall curriculum will be both broad, considering global scenarios related to sustainability and organic agriculture, as well as be focused on what students can do in their own locality, giving them plenty of hands-on experience.
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