Spread the Circle of Organic Farming

Most of us are aware of the hubbub in the wake of the disquieting news of DDT being found in human milk. Four decades back when this information first hit out that human breast milk was contaminated with the pesticide DDT, it had created a furore across the world. Strict restrictions on its use lowered DDT concentrations in human milk.

The pesticide DDT was used since 1940s to control typhus and agricultural pests. However the harmful effects led to a strict ban on its use after the 1970’s. But we still remain riddled with concerns over its existence in the environment for causing irreversible health problems. Similarly conventional farming too remains troubled with the continued use of chemicals in agriculture that affect health of people eating chemical laden food.

Several countries are safely transitioning back to organic methods of farming to obtain healthy produce. Organic farming reverts back to traditional approaches in farming to cultivate food without using fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, chemicals or genetically modified organisms. Organic farming ensures crops do not harbor harmful residues of toxic chemicals. It deploys methods of farming that are sustainable and in sync with nature.

HERD Organic Farms undertakes organic farming and we realize that soil fertility improves dramatically as does productivity over time. We have been making use of natural manure that is produced at the farm by organic practices of composting and production of green manure that makes the soil more productive and fertile. Farm manager Anil Khare states: “Soil treated with organic fertilizers hosts billions of useful bacteria that are useful in breaking down plant residues and livestock wastes into useful soil nutrients to improve soil binding.”

We have also discovered that organic farming establishes biodiversity and that our methodologies have ensured development of a resilient bio-diverse landscape. These natural practices have helped in minimizing erosion of agricultural biodiversity and enhanced species richness and abundance. With absolutely no chemical usage in the farms the landscape has become rich with organic flora and fauna like pollinators and pest pillagers!

In fact organic practices have also prevented water contamination. Since we do not allow water to get exposed to any kind of toxins the soil remains rich in organic matter with salubrious moisture content. It is further a matter of deep satisfaction that ground water retention and infiltration is toxic free. Healthy soil acts like a sponge to keep vegetation well moisturized with unsoiled recharged underground water.

Last but not the least organic farming diminishes conventional energy use by minimizing agricultural chemical needs and addresses the issue of emissions and global warming by repossessing carbon in the soil. Good practices like reduced tillage, crop rotation, nitrogen fixing legumes and so on maximize the carbon concentration in soil. We all know that the more organic carbon stored in soil the more mitigation ability of agriculture against climate change.

Organic farming is truly a win-win situation. Aside from it improving soil binding and reducing runoff, the soil remains nutrient rich resulting in increased soil density causing less runoff. Organic farming also boosts bacteria that help plants fix nitrogen and help utilize and convert these nutrients before they get an opportunity to run-off. With so many benefits why then is organic farming taking so much time to be adopted by all. The fact is that many farmers remain apprehensive about adopting it due to high production costs. Add to this the burden of competing with low prices of conventional produce.

HERD Organic Farms contends with this issue but remains resolute to stand for sustainable organic farming. Even though the yield may be low we know that long term profitability and environmental benefits are in store. Upcoming studies portend that desired yields will come in good time. It is for this reason that we need to extend the circle of influence for promoting organic farming and bring conventional farmers into the fold. To this end HERD Foundation remains committed.

 

 

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Importance of Modern Medicine

For all our bonhomie, congeniality and carry-on-living lifestyles, the fact remains that majority of the people around the world are ailing. Statistics as per a new analysis tells us that just one in twenty are healthy in any given year! This new analysis based on the 2013 Global Burden of Disease Study finds that more than 95 per cent of the world’s population is ill. Alarmingly, over a third suffers from more than five chronic illnesses.

These findings while certainly very distressing should be taken with some equanimity. The availability of modern medicines provides health care by offering ease to help people recover and experience wellness again. The importance of medicines cannot be discounted nor disregarded in coping with infection or disease so widely rampant among human beings. The past century has seen modern medicine increasingly provide respite and succor to mankind. Allopathic medicines have truly proved to be a boon for human health.

The very word medicine is derived from the Latin word ‘ ars medicina’ that means ‘the art of healing’. The middle of the 20th century saw real advancement in medical science. Ever since then to this day research and developments have continuously advanced the medicinal field. It is absolutely true that human knowledge has accelerated the study of medicine making it one of the most important areas in safeguarding human health. Modern scientific medical drugs help in properly assisting patients to recover from their sickness.

Modern medicines remain a reliable source for treating human diseases. Alongside, the availability of advanced diagnostic technology has been a value-added facet to medical science. With state of art medical equipment that can probe and gauge disorders in the human body, it is only a matter of time that appropriate medication helps in healing the body. Another wonderful dimension of modern medicine is the way it helps in prevention of diseases. Maladies are prevented by ingesting or injecting proper medicines and inoculations.

Since detection of disease has become so much easier and less time consuming, proper dosage of necessary medicines assist in fighting diseases to offer complete treatment. Doctors now do not have to go by trial and error since human body diagnosis and profiling by modern methods help in identifying the exact ailment or syndrome. With cutting edge tools and technologies available today for detection of diseases, precise medications help in curing a patient quickly, even before the problem can grow bigger.

It is all thanks to medical science that we are treating patients so much more successfully than before. With treatments available for most diseases today, medications offer respite for health issues ranging from physical, mental to psychosomatic. With medicines offering healing opportunity to patients, people feel more secure because they know that the treatments are available. Pharmaceutical companies ensure that medicines and drugs are always available on a large scale and can be provided to people at low costs.

Pharmacology science has actually revolutionized the medical world. Medications now offer cures for common illnesses and also for critical diseases giving better health benefits to people everywhere. Pharmaceutical medicine is the medical scientific discipline concerned with the discovery, development, evaluation, registration, monitoring and medical aspects of marketing of medicines for the benefit of patients and public health.

HERD Pharmacy medical stores salute to this indefatigable spirit of Pharmacology in rendering yeoman service to people in need of modern medicines to reclaim their good health.

Good Start – Good Deeds

How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.

‘As one lamp lights another, nor grows less, So nobleness enkindleth nobleness.’ Basic Life Support (BLS) is a vision to which Dr Suchika Deshmukh connects to and contributes consistently for its realization. Adhering to this universal vision, it is her belief and credo that the vision can only be affirmed by undertaking continuous, positive steps for BLS training. It is her chosen area of affirmation for her country, for which she takes proactive stance through her words, feelings and actions.

Putting together all positive energy to connect the people who value human lives, she is the driving force behind HERD Foundation for sharing and enlarging the scope of BLS. Never one to lose an opportunity to extend her mission she puts together all like-minded individuals and agencies to actively participate in widening the BLS training programmes. She works on the simple idea that every person must know how to save a human life. And so the New Year begins on a high note of learning to do good deeds for the benefit of other human beings.

Her commitment to the cause comes from an inner conviction that she needs to spread the message that every person can save a human life. Basic life support or BLS comprises of primary level medical care that can be used for victims of life-threatening injuries until they can be given full medical care at a hospital. BLS can be provided by trained medical personnel, including emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and by ‘qualified’ bystanders. BLS training therefore aims at educating the first responders.

HERD Foundation, through the efforts of Dr Suchika Deshmukh, has brought BLS and ACLS Training to Nagpur city in a big way since 2015. Under her guidance NKPSIMS and Lata Mangeshkar Hospital have set up the International Training Centre that is accredited by American Heart Association. Tuesday, January 2, 2018 saw a record of sorts through the combined efforts of Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) when as many as 3,000 persons including 300 hearing and speech impaired schoolchildren were trained in basic life support (BLS) or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at Suresh Bhat auditorium.

The day-long workshop was inaugurated by the city mayor Nanda Jichkar, who termed the BLS training endeavour as Social Learning module with immense importance and opportunity to save lives. A team of specialists led by Dr Meenakshi Girish, Dr Pravin Dahake and Dr Rajkumar Kiratkar trained the participants in CPR. Dr Girish explained the basics of the technique with the help of a video presentation and mannequins. Director of HERD Foundation and LSTS Dr Suchika Deshmukh underlined the importance of the technique.

The team provided the training in which participants were encouraged to continue to practice the technique and use it when needed. Present on this occasion were Dr Vinky Rughvani, member Maharashtra Medical Council, Dr R.G. Patil, Dr Sanjay Marathe, Dr Girish Charde. Dr Kritish Balpande, Dr Vasant Khalatkar, Dr Jayant Upadhye, Dr Uday Bodhankar and Dr Avinash Gawande from Government Medical College and Hospital were also present.

Studies reveal that only 50-55% affected victims get proper medical attention. Also, lack of first-responder support turn out fatalities in nearly 90% cases. Lack of CPR care has victims dying when studies clearly underline that during first few minutes if proper CPR is given chances of survival improve dramatically. CPR provided to victims early on increases the time available for experts to provide ALS care and save patients. BLS skills are therefore much needed and can be provided to non-medics too, to save human lives. It is Dr Suchika Deshmukh’s vision that everyone must be taught to be proficient in BLS skills.

2018 – Ring in the New Year

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Images Courtesy Google 

Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow. The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true”. Let 2018 be the year to inspire people to good health, good cheer and serenity. It is optimum physical fitness and vigour that can best be described as a precursor to all good things that one can work on to achieve. So let this be the year to bring on well-being, fitness, and inner tranquility that may help us enjoy the best of everything else this year.

HERD Foundation wishes good health to be the focal message for the year ahead. Let us begin the New Year with single mindedness towards making physical fitness a year round target. We can devote ourselves to this end by making good choices through diet, activity, and healthy routines to augment these overarching undertakings that will change our lives for the better.

All you would need to do is to build up reserves of your immense will power to prioritize yourself and your good health above everything else. It is very much possible to do this since the human body is so designed as to respond to health care at any age and at any point in time. Good physical care changes and revs up the body to gain the benefits of healthy eating, exercise, and proper care to make necessary alterations right down to our cells.

Alongside, let mindful serenity become the signature tune for 2018. Read books, enjoy music and at every opportunity relax in Mother Nature’s arms. Enjoy the kind of physical activity that suits you. Enjoy simple strolling down the street. Put away the digital devices for some time and enjoy the company of fellow beings around you. Sing your heart out – whether in the shower or a karaoke.

What you need to in-build inside your psyche is to feel good!  Research suggests that any form of movement or activity of any kind is essential for human well-being. Studies also say that people feel happiest when they are up and about and moving around compared to when they remain seated or remain still. So take up opportunities to get off that chair and move around.

As the year begins resolve to make yourself a better person – physically. Do the simple things that will lay the foundation in place for a rock solid support to your resolve. Here are tips that will help you to promote self-care and good health.

  • Mark out January each year to get a complete profile of your health status. It is important to know where you stand and to get a first-hand account of your medical condition – inside out. New Year is the time to focus on your health. Find the time to do this and maintain your health all year long.
  • Drink more water and less of other kind of drinks. You will feel energized and positive. It is essential to stay hydrated and many of us forget that water is the best drink around. Water levels are critical and staying hydrated will have drastic effects on your overall health.
  • Make it a point to sleep better. Lack of sleep is an underlying reason for health problems. From stress and anxiety to weight gain and low immunity – more problems erupt for lack of proper sleep. Resolve to plan out a strict sleep schedule and stick to it. Eat early dinners. Put away devices. Shut off the TV. Certain bodily functions occur only when the body is asleep that keep our health in good order.
  • Practice good mindful eating habits. Improve your diet patterns and eat healthy foods. Stick to your scheduled hours and eat authentic food. Mindful eating is to learn what to eat when you are hungry, and to know when to stop when you are full.

So let this New Year be the year when you transform yourself to become a new you.

Leveraging Talent for Social Sector

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Mega-trends keep changing our world. Mega-trends are global macro-economic forces of development that impact economy, business, and society. In fact cultures and surprisingly even personal lives get transformed in the process. With the ever increasing pace of change we keep witnessing trends that revolutionize the entire world – globalization, digitization, climate change and so on.

Much has changed in the development sector too. The non-profit sector has moved on from its hoary past to see robust growth in recent years. Philanthropy is now duly combined with rational corporate approaches for the best interests of the social sector. Non-profits’ growth is essential for sustaining the laudable intents of the social sector, that really speaking does need to run along corporate lines.

Non-profit organizations are of course focused on their social purposes. But now its being better understood that they need not get carried away by their goodwill alone. While formerly their compassionate intent more-often-than-not overlooked keeping of systems and structures in place, they now realize that they themselves need to be inherently effectual, impactful and sustainable as well.

This is what drew HERD Educational & Medical Research Foundation to the India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS) initiative undertaken by Central Square Foundation, (CSF) New Delhi. They are working to build the next generation of senior leaders for the development sector – a sector that has seen significant growth in the past decade. We found their aspirations for assisting non-profits to scale up, become sustainable and make more impact on the social sector extremely attractive.

Non-profits today actually need professional talent. This initiative is just what is needed to build up latent leadership or to acquire corporate talent to infuse fresh blood into the social sector. We are happy about this changing trend where institutions are addressing this endemic issue – scaling up talent! To bridge this gap CSF and ILSS have built strategies to attract top corporate talent from middle and upper management to play key roles in non-profit organisations.

It is true that skeptical public perception and swelling government restrictions leave NGOs in an implausible position. The time could not have been more opportune for this kind of initiative to have come up. It offers an immense opportunity to influence professionals and specialists to be made available for working in the social sector and lend their expertise. All over the world non-profits are infusing purpose, process and professionalism into the passion that initially brought individuals and institutions into the fold of the social sector. Civil society structures are now adapting to the corporate world methodologies for long term outcomes.

HERD Foundation is looking to forge connections with ILSS to partner in this formidable vision to inspire, empower, and enable high quality talent to play leadership roles in the development sector. We take this opportunity to inform their collaboration with Indian School of Development Management (ISDM) to offer a series of 9-day programs aimed to help senior leadership make meaningful transitions into the social sector. Interested individuals and institutions may connect for the purpose by clicking on the links shared below:

info@indialeadersforsocialsector.com

http://www.indialeadersforsocialsector.com

ILSS is building a platform to highlight developments in the sector: its opportunities and challenges. A repository of information, the platform will encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration, showcase success stories from the sector, benchmark best practices, address perceptions and highlight leadership role models. By identifying opportunities, challenges and rewards of the social sector, the ILSS platform aims to create an informed movement of leadership talent for the sector.”

The Organic Way

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The ICAR-National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS&LUP) has identified areas in our country that hold high potential for organic farming. This literally works very well as a ground rule for HERD Organic Farms because the fact is that as per the geo-spatial digital map showing organic carbon stock in the soils of all states, this region of Maharashtra is indeed good for natural organic farming.

HERD Organic Farms is keen to facilitate and dedicate efforts for organic agriculture. The farm team collaborates in the organic processes for cultivation of crops, production of organic manure, undertaking crop rotation, product selection and dissemination of organic farming methods. Farm hands are taught to learn and adopt organic farming techniques, production of green/ organic manure, and use of natural pesticides and herbicides.

The past three years have seen HERD Organic Farms emerge as a trusted source for organic food. With up-to-date documentation on sustainable agriculture practice and soil health, the farm team, led by farm manager Mr Anil Khare, collaborate with organic farming practitioners and academic fraternity to fill gaps in our knowledge. HOF envisions improved health for the soil and its people with due conversion of organic agricultural methodologies.

Operations had begun in March 2015 with the aim to create a model-farm to act as a teaching-learning center for organic farming. In time we hope to scale up efforts to become an example to be followed by farmers in the region. We hope to inspire particularly those farmers who remain uncertain or unconvinced about the concept. We want them to look upon organic farming as a viable venture. It is hoped that they would eventually be persuaded to go the organic way.

Our goal is really to contribute to healthy living for everyone. This is why our major focus is on developing and nurturing in-house organic components so as to strengthen the concept of creating a model organic farm in the region.  With the emphasis on using cost effective methods for organic farming, we also use high-tech innovative ideas on the farm.

We take every opportunity to spread awareness of the benefits of organic produce and the dire consequences of eating unhealthy chemical laden foods. On the farmland we make our own manure and pesticides in a bid to retain soil health. We also ensure organic health of pollinator populations. Our home grown organic pesticides do not have impacts on pollinator health. In fact the diverse food crops benefit such pollinators with increase in food sources.

Actually the organic inputs prevent soil pathogen and keep the soil health in perfect order as proven by the soil tests we undertook. HERD Organic Farms continues to collaborate with the organic growers community to help ensure that the unique realities of organic farmers are better understood and considered by the larger fraternity and possibly to influence the future of organic farming in the region.

We keep intensifying our efforts to benefit both the land and the people. We truly believe the words of Anna Lappé, author and educator – “When we fight for organic food, it connects us to every living creature on the planet, from birds to frogs and pollinators—all those harmed by toxic pesticides”. We look ahead to another year of increased organic produce.

Soil Health

 

SOIL FACTS – AND WHY SOIL IS IMPORTANT

Soil is the network of interacting living organisms within the earth’s surface layer which support life above ground.

The nutritional value of the food we eat is directly related to the health of the soil in which it grows (or what it eats grows).

Management of agricultural soils should consider the structural, biological and mineral health of the soil (not just N, P, K) to produce nutritionally-dense food.

Soil has varying amounts of organic matter (living and dead organisms), minerals, and nutrients.

An average soil sample is 45% minerals, 25%, 25% air, and 5% organic matter (less in degraded soils).

Carbon is a master variable within the soil that controls many processes, such as development of soil structure, water storage and nutrient cycling.

Soil high in organic carbon content enables better rainfall infiltration & retention – providing greater resilience to drought.

Every gram of soil organic carbon can hold up to 8 grams of water.

Soils are vulnerable to carbon loss through degradation, but regenerative land management practices can build soil and restore soil health.

Soil erosion within conventional agricultural practices can occur at rates up to 100 times greater than the rate of natural soil formation.

Natural processes can take more than 500 years to form 2 centimeters of topsoil.

Soil carbon takes three distinct forms: living carbon, labile carbon and fixed carbon.

– Living carbon takes the form of microbes, fungi, plant roots, nematodes, earth worms etc.

– Labile carbon in the soil comprises decomposing (dead) plant and animal material that is in a state of transition.

– Fixed carbon in the soil consists of stable compounds as humates and glomalins.

…Sequestered Carbon comprises the fixed carbon plus the total living biomass.

Soil stores 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Around 95% of our food is directly or indirectly produced on our soils.

Soil microbes have a symbiotic relationship with plants – plants provide sugars to microbes and microbes make nutrients bio-available for plants.

Living organisms in soil ultimately control water infiltration, mineral density and nutrient cycling.

Fungi and bacteria help break down organic matter in the soil and earthworms digest organic matter, recycle nutrients, and make the surface soil richer.

In a handful of fertile soil, there are more individual organisms than the total number of human beings that have ever existed.

Soil is one of the most complex biological materials on our planet.

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Image Courtesy – Google