Review of the Book “The one-straw Revolution” by Masanobu Fukuoka*
For more than thirty years, Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer from the Southern Japanese island of Shikoku, has been practising the method of cultivation which he has called “natural farming”. Fukuoka’s experiences in farming as well as his world-view are the themes of his book “The One-straw Revolution”.
In Japan, originally rice seed was cast directly onto the flooded river plains during the monsoon season. Later the traditional method of growing transplanted rice in a flooded field was taken up and was used in Japan until the end of 2nd world war. Using this traditional method, which uses compost and organic manure and requires careful handweeding, Japanese farmers grew a summer crop of rice and a winter grain crop each year in the same field for centuries without reducing the fertility of the soil.
Though he recognizes that this traditional method has many virtues (as compared to modern chemical cultivation), Fukuoka feels that it involves a lot of unnecessary work as compared to his method which he calls ‘’Do-nothing” farming.** In this method, there is no ploughing of the land, no flooding of rice fields and no use of any chemicals whatsoever, and minimal use of organic fertilizer. And yet his rice yields have been approximately the same as those produced by either the chemical or the traditional method in his area. All the three methods yield comparable harvests, but seem to differ markedly in their effect on the soil. Over the years since Fukuoka stopped ploughing, his fields have improved in fertility, structure and ability to retain water. By the traditional method the condition of the soil over the years seems to remain about the same. The farmer takes yields in direct proportion to the amount of compost and manure he puts in. The soil in the fields of the chemical farmer becomes lifeless and depleted of its native fertility in a short time.
Fukuoka says that in ‘natural farming’, since ‘rice is grown without flooding [Not Visible] field throughout the growing season, in many places, the need for irrigation [Not Visible] be completely eliminated. Rice can then be grown in areas not previously thought suitable. Besides, soils already damaged by chemicals can be rehabilitated.
Plant diseases and insects are present in Fukuoka’s fields but the crops are not devastated. Fukuoka insists that the best form of disease and insect control is to grow crops in a healthy environment.
How did Fukuoka arrive at ‘natural farming’? Fukuoka explains the process which led to his decision to take to ‘natural farming’. He says that it was a sudden revelation that completely changed his life by changing the way he perceived the world around him. At the age of twenty-five Fukuoka went through an experience when he suddenly “realized the insufficiency and futility of intellectual knowledge”. He felt that this realization was of great benefit to the world and decided to apply this conviction to farming and demonstrate its validity. After some initial failures he evolved the technique by means of which he now cultivates 1 ¼acres of rice/winter grain and about 12 ½ acres of orange orchards and vegetables in the orchards.
Fukuoka’s method emerged out of his conviction that nature knows best the best way to grow plants and trees is to imitate nature as closely as possible, that is, to grow plants and trees in an environment which would closely resemble their growing conditions in the wild. Once the proper natural environment is provided, nature seems to take care of the rest.
The basic idea of ‘natural farming’ came to Fukuoka as he passed an old field which had been left unused and unploughed for many years. There he saw healthy rice seedlings sprouting through grass and weeds. From then on he stopped flooding his fields. He started to broadcast rice directly on to the surface of the field at a time when it would have naturally fallen to the ground. He stopped ploughing and learnt to control weeds by a permanent ground cover of leguminous plants and a mulch of straw from the previous harvest.
Principles of natural farming
There are four principles of natural farming. They are, in Fukuoka’s own words :
(1) "No Cultivation : No ploughing or turning of the soil. For centuries farmers have assumed that the plough is essential for growing crops. However, non-cultivation is fundamental to natural farming. The earth cultivates [Not Visible] naturally by means of the penetration of plant roots and the activity of [Not Visible] organisms, small animals and earthworms.
(2) No chemical fertilizer or prepared compost :*People interfere with nature and try as they may, they cannot heal the resulting wounds. Their careless
farming practices - drain the soil of essential nutrients, and the result is, yearly depletion of land. If left to itself, the soil maintains its fertility naturally, in accordance with the orderly cycle of plant and anima life.
(3) No weeding by tillage or herbicides :Weeds play their part in building soil fertility and in balancing the biological community. As a fundamental principle, weeds should be controlled, not eliminated.*
(4) No Dependence on Chemicals : **From the time that weak plants developed as a result of such unnatural practicesasploughingand fertilizing, disease and insect imbalance became a great problem inagriculture. Nature, left alone, is in perfect balance. Harmfulinsects and plant disease are always present but do not occur in nature to anextent which requires the use of poisonous chemicals. The sensible approach to disease and insect control is to grow sturdy crops in a healthy environment’’.
Fukuoka’s annual farming schedule is as follows :In earlyOctober, before the rice harvest, white clover and the seeds of fast-growing varieties of winter grain are broadcast among the ripening stalks of rice. The clover and barley or rye sprout and grow an inch or two by the time the rice is ready to be harvested. During the rice harvest the sprouted seeds are trampled by the feet of the harvesters, but recover soon. When the threshing of rice is completed, the rice straw is spread over the field. A thin-layer of chicken manure is spread over the field to help decompose the straw.
Rice may be broadcastin autumn itself, in which case the seeds are enclosed in small clay pellets so thatthey are not eaten by birds or rodents, nor are they likely to rot. These pellets are broadcast among the young winter grain (barley or rye) plants between mid-november and mid-December. Rice seed may also be broadcast in spring before the harvest of the winter grain.
In May, the winter grainis harvested. Afterthreshing, all the straw is scatteredover the field. Water is then allowed to stand in the field for a week or ten days. This causes the weeds and clover to weaken and allows the rice to sprout up through the straw. Rain water in June and July takes care of the weeds of
the plants ; in August fresh water is run through the field about once a week without being allowed to stand. In autumn the rice is harvested.*
This is the yearly cycle of rice/winter-grain cultivation by the natural method. The seeding and harvesting are scheduled to closely follow the natural pattern so that “it could be-considered more a natural process than an agricultural technique’’.
According to Fukuoka, it takes only an hour or two for one farmer to sow the seeds and to spread the straw across a quarter acre. With the exception of the job of harvesting, he has found that winter graincould by grown by just one person, and two or three people could do all the work necessary to grow afield of rice using only traditional Japanese tools.
Although Fukuoka’s method was evolved over thirty years according to the natural conditions of the Japanese islands, he feels that natural farming could be applied in other areas and to theraising of otherindigenouscrops. Inareas where irrigation is not available, dry creps may be grown. Instead of white clover used by Fukuoka a moresuitable field cover may have to be founddepending on local conditions.
The taskaccording to Fukuoka is to understandthe “idealform’’ of the plant (say rice) and then it is just a matter of how to grow a plant of that shape under the unique conditions obtaining in any field anywhere. Says Fukuoka “Natural farming takes a distinctive form in accordance with the unique conditions of the area in which it is applied…. ultimately, it is not the growing technique which is the most important factor, but rather the state of the mind of the farmer.”
Fruit Trees and Vegetables
Using the principles of‘natural farming’ Fukuoka has been growing oranges on 12-1/2acres of the nearby hillsides. The main principle of the natural method here is to allow a tree to follow its natural from the beginning. Here he uses no chemical sprays excepts a solution of machine oil, ‘‘a chemical relatively harmless to predators’’, which is diluted some 200-400 times and sprayed lightly. However, he is not in favour of even harmless ‘organic’ sprays or introducing foreign predator species to control insects. Trees weaken and are attacked by insects to the extens that they deviate from the natural form. Hence the task is to gradually correct trees so that they approximately return to their natural form. As they do so, they become stronger and insect control measures become unnecassary.
Soil improvement is the fundamental concern of orchard management. Here Fukuoka uses an Australin acacia (‘Acacia morishima’’) to carry out soil improvement in the deep soil strata and a ground cover of leguminous plants as well as Japanese radish (Daikon) for the improvement of the surface layer of the soil.
Fukuoka advocates growing vegetables in a “‘semi-wild,’ way ; the idea is to toss out the seeds and let vegetables grow up with the weeds. This he does on the mountain side in the spaces between citrus trees.
The important thing here is to know the right time to plant.Weeds are are also seasonal and in each season planting is done so as to give the vegetables a lead on the weeds. Weeds may have to be cut back once or twice to help the vegetables establish themselves. Vegetables grown this way, over the years, start to resemble their wild ancestors and are far more tastier and nutritious than their modern chemically-grown counterparts.
Fukuoka’s book is not merely a book on cultivation, although it deals with agriculture at some length. Fukuoka’s primary concern is the civilizational crisis confronting non-western societies, and he examines this crisis in the context of Jagan. Fukuoka sees this crisis in the modern times as being due to the modern human being’s estrangement from nature. He sees the manifestation of this crisis in various aspects of ‘the Japanese society - the modern life-style; modern science and technology; modern diet and health care : modern agriculture, etc, and contrasts these with the corresponding aspects of the traditional Japan of the past which had a harmonious relationship with nature. He suggests that unless human beings in the modern society overcome their alienation from nature and move once again towards a harmonious relationship with nature, the modern society is bound to collapse. In this section, we summarize. Fukuoka’s views on various aspects of tradition and modernity.
Fukuoka observes that culture comes into being automatically when there is harmony between human society and nature. Since traditional culture has been closely connected with daily life, it has been passed on to future generations and has been preserved upto now. True culture then, is born within nature and is simple, humble and pure, lacking which humanity would perish. A thing born from human pride and quest for pleasure such as the “modern culture” cannot be considered true culture.
Fukuoka points out that there is an inseparable relationship between human spirit, diet and activity, summed up in the Buddhist —like exhortation ‘’Right food, right action. , right awareness”. He dwells upon these at length. He sees a necessary connection between natural farming and natural food - only through natural farming can natural food become available and unless a natural diet is established among the people so that there is a demand for natural food, farmers will not know what to grow.
Fukuoka divides diet into four types :
1.A ‘lax diet’, confirming to habitual desires and taste preferences. People following this diet sway back and forth erratically in response to whims and fancies. This diet could be called ‘self-indulgent, empty eating.
2. The standard nutritional diet, proceeding from biological conclusions. Nutritious foods are eaten for the purpose of maintaining the life of the body. It could be called materialist, scientific eating.
3. The diet based on spiritual principles and idealistic philosophy. This could be called the diet of principle.
4. The natural diet, following the will of heaven, discarding all human knowledge; this diet could be called the diet of. “Non-discrimination”.
In explaining ‘‘diet of non-discrimination”. Fukuoka adds, “When food, body, the heart and the mind become perfectly united within nature, a natural diet becomes possible. It is impossible to prescribe rules and proportions for a natural diet. This diet defines itself according to the focal environment and the various needs and bodily constitution of each person”.
Fukuoka goes on to examine traditional diet, the changes brought about in the diet by modern life-style and modern ideas of nutrition, causes for ill-health, the relationship between the consumer and the producer of the food etc.
Traditional Japanese diet consisted of brown rice, locally available vegetables and sea food. Human beings lived simply and directly on this ‘coarse’ diet which was, however, nutritionally the best. Also, locally produced grains and vegetables require far less energy and resources than those which are grown far away from the consumer, under modern agriculture, or those that are imported. Hence People aboured less and used land more economically, as compared to their modern counterparts who have developed a taste for luxury foods such as imported meat,* which are also nutritionally poor. Modern life has separated food and nutrition from taste. Nutritious foods are also appetizing and delicious on their own account. For example, vegetables that are biologically closest to their wild ancestors are the best in flavour. Having separated food from natural flavour and taste, modern lifestyle is dependent on various seasonings and additives which not only bring down the nutritional value of the food but also are responsible for disease.
Fukuoka points out that it is not possible to improve upon naturally grown fruits and vegetables.Foods that have departed far from their wild state and those grown chemically and in unnatural environments unbalance the body chemistry so that one becomes dependent on such unnatural foods. Then, vitamin supplements and medicines become necessary and a health-crisis results. The result of this vicious cycle is not only suffering for the consumers but also hardship for the farmers who are forced to grow such food. ‘Natural foods’ which are economically viable for the producer as well as freely available can be grown only when the tastes of the consumers change.
Western nutritional science believes that it is adequate for human beings to consume certain quantities of starch, fat, protein, minerals and vitamins everyday to maintain good health. Human being is viewed merely as a physiological object. Spiritual and emotional values are entirely forsaken, although foods are directly connected with human spirit and emotions. Further, there is no effort inwestern nutritional science to adjust diet to the natural cycle. Fukuoka sees this approach as responsible for undermining the health of Japanese people by moving away from their traditional diet. Western science also prescribes a diet that isolates human beings from nature, resulting in a fear of nature and a general sense of insecurity.
Fukuoka says that western science is unable to grasp the precept of Eastern philosophy, “Within one thing lie all things, but if all things are brought together, not one thing can arise‘'. Referring to the impending food crisis in Japan, he says that “it will not be caused by the insufficiency of nature’s productive power but by the extravagance of human desire”.
Sickness occurs when people draw away from nature, severity of the disease being directly proportional to the degree of this separation. If a sick person returns ‘to a healthy environment often the disease will disappear says Fukuoka, hence, instead of getting sick and then taking to a ‘natural’ diet to get well, we should live in a natural environment so that sickness does not appear. Modern technology has contributed to ill-health by means of rice-mills, where the grain is hulled, removing the germ and bran, which are the basis of good health.Polished white rice is too easily digestible since the rice-mill is doing the work of the stomach and intestines and the consequence is to make these. organs dull.Linking ill-health to the general civilizational crisis Fukuoka says : “People complacently view the world as a place where‘progress’ grows out of turmoil and confusion. But purposeless and destructive development invites nothing less than the degeneration and collapse of humankind. If it is not clearly understood what the non-moving source of all this activity is — what nature is — it will be impossible to recover our health”.
Fuluoka extols agriculture as the means to a greater awareness of nature leading to a recognition of the ‘true source of life’. However modern farming has different goals. “Farming used to be sacred work. Where humanity fell away from this ideal, modern commercial agriculture rose. When the farmer began to grow crops to make money, he forgot the real principles of agriculture”.
On the so-called benefits of the ‘Green Revolution’Fukuoka has this to say :“Because, these methods (i.e. modern chemical farming) depend on weak, ‘improved’ seed varieties, it becomes necessary for the farmer to apply chemicals and insecticides eight or ten times during the growing season. In a short time, the soil is burned clean of micro-organisims and organic matter. The life of the soil is destroyed and crops come to be dependent on nutrients added from outside in the form of chemical fertilizer’’.
The reason that improved techniques seem to be necessary is that the natural balance has been so badly upset beforehand by those same techniques, that the land has become dependent on them. Doctors and medicine become necessary when people create a sickly environment. To the extent that trees (or plants) deviate from their natural form, pruning and insect extermination become necessary.
Human beings with their tampering do something wrong, leave thedamage unrepaired and when the adverse results accumulate, work with all their might to correct them. When the corrective actions appear to be successful, they come to view these measures as splendid accomplishments.
Fukuoka asserts that commercial agriculture is an unstable and unprofitable proposition. Since farmers are caught in a rising spiral of inputs and since input prices are fixed in the international market, the farmer’s income is at the mercy of forces beyond his control.Only production for consumption instead of production for the market can make agriculture viable for the farmer.
Then Fukuoka traces the recent history of Japanese agriculture and the agricultural policy of the government and describes the current crisis in Japanese agriculture.
For several centuries upto the 2nd world war, Japanese farmers grew traditional, grain varieties of rye and barley each winter.Subsequently, due to the introduction of American wheat into Japan, farmers were forced, through government policy, to give up traditional grains and take to wheat cultivation.Not only was this wheat nutritionally inferior to the traditional grains and bad-tasting, [Not Visible] was also a high—risk crop for farmers :due to its unsuitability to Japan’s growing season and susceptibility to disease. Eventually as the imported wheat became available at low prices,Japanese farmers abandoned wheat cultivation; nor were they encouraged to take up traditional winter-grain cultivation.The fields of Japan were left to lie fallow through the winter.
However, Fukuoka has continued to grow rye/barley in winter in succession with a summer crop of rice. He feels that this way “We can produce the greatest number of calories from Japan’s fields’’. He refers to the fact that this agricultural policy of abandoning traditional winter grain cultivation has led to food shortages in Japan.
Fukuoka points out that a sound and consistent agricultural policy is an Impossibility as long astraditional crap cycles and the connection between what is grown in the fields and people’s diet are not understood.Traditional Japanese crops such as rice, barley, rye, buck-wheat are nutritionally more and than adequate.If this is understood, the policy would be to grow only these crops and farmers would find farming easy.
Fukuoka further points our how the goal of modern agricultural policy is to have few people involved in agriculture. With this end in view, modern economists very contend that small-scale, self-sufficient farming is ‘Primitive’ and wrong and should be fast eliminated. Agricultural ‘progress’ implies a change-over to large-scale, American-style agriculture, fewer people using large modern machinery. It is being claimed that this would result in greater yields trom the same average. As a result of this policy, the proportion of the Japanese population involved in farming fell from 70% — 80% to the current figure of 14%.It is the aim of agricultural policy to achieve the same proportions as the West - keeping less than 10% of the population in farming.
Fukuoka’s vision of an ideal societyis where all the people are involved in farming.He says that since there is a quarter acre of arable land per capita in Japan,anaverage family of five couldeasily support itself on 1 ¼acres (5 x ¼ ).This would reverse the modern ‘development’ which has separated human beings from nature and has as its motive force the [not-visible] desire for material possessions and personal gain.Further, natural farming, says Fukuoka would give a farmer plenty of time for leisure and creative social involvement.
Fukuoka observes that several centuries ago, Japanese society primarily based on small farms attached only to life itself, where farming was considered sacred work, offered contentment and creative leisure-time to the farmer. The evidence for this he sees in the many Haiku poems inscribed on the wallsof the temple of his village.
Fukuoka believes that ‘natural farming’ by restoring the harmony between human being and nature, can be the basis of a civilisational alternative (to the modern Western civilization) — a rural society of enlightened human beings.
Fukuoka asserts that an understanding of nature lies beyond the reach of human intelligence, since nature is in constant transition, changing from moment to moment and since human. Intellect sees objects in isolation from the whole. Modern scientific research seems to wander aimlessly. It divides nature into tiny pieces and conducts tests that conform neither with the natural law nor with practical experiences.
As an instance of modern scientific research Fukuoka talks about research into insect control which ignores the relationships among insects between insects and a host of other factors such as predators, natural factors such as rainfall, other life forms such as frogs etc., all of which are intimately related to insect population. Once Fukuoka discovered that a handful of apparently harmless ash that he put on the field seemed to drive away thousands of spiders. Applying insecticide is not simply a matter of eliminating insects along with their natural predators. “Many other essential dramas of nature are affected’’, says Fukuoka. So, the use of chemicals is not a problem for the scientist alone. Fukuoka sees the hegemony of science and reason in all areas of human activity in the modern society as being a dangerous development.‘’Philosophers, men of religion, artists and poets must also help to decide whether or not it is permissible to use chemicals in farming’’.
In this section we summarize Fukuoka’s philosophy and world-view.
Fukuoka distinguishes between two kinds of knowledge :
(1) Discriminating Knowledge :which is derived from the intellect trying to organise experience into a logical framework.While this knowledge is essential for carrying on mundane life and solving practical problems in daily life, Fukuoka believes that ultimately, it provides too narrow a perspective.
(2) Non-discriminating Knowledge :which arises through direct intuition, when experience is not interpretedby the intellect.Says Fukuoka‘‘People generally believe that unmistaken recognition of the world is possible through discrimination alone.Therefore the word ‘nature’ as it is generally spoken, denotes nature as it is perceived by the discriminating intellect.I deny the empty page of nature as created by the human intellect and clearly distinguish it from nature itself as experienced by non-discriminating understanding.If we eradicate the false conception of nature, I believe the rootof the world’s disorder will disappear.In making this distinction Fukuoka seems to base himself on the philosophy of Taoism and Zen Buddhism.According to him the NaturalSciences of the West and the traditional philosophy ofYin-Yang and the I ching of the East are examples of discriminating knowledge.He says“Nature as grasped by (Western) scientific knowledge is a nature which has been destroyed; it is a ghost possessing a skeleton, but no soul.Nature as grasped by (oriental) philosophical knowledge is a theory created out of human speculation,a ghost with a soul,butno structure”.He calls non-discriminating knowledge, knowledge from an unnameable source.One must “abandon the discriminating mind and transcend the world of relativity’’ if one wants to “know the true appearance of nature’’.
Fukuoka extends this distinction to natural farming.He distinguishes between two types of natural farming.(a)“Broad,transcendentnatural farming’’ and (b) “Narrow natural farming of the ‘relative world’, (world as understood by the intellect)”.The former“arises of itself when a unity exists between man and nature........ it proceeds from the conviction that if the individual temporarily abandons human will and so allows (oneself) to be guided by nature, nature responds by providing everything”.Narrow natural farming, on the other hand, “is pursuing the way of nature.It self-consciously attempts by ‘organic’ or other methods to follow nature’.As for modern industrial farming, it ‘‘desires heaven’s wisdom, without grasping its meaning and at the same time wants to make use of nature.”
Narrow natural farming is “analogous to the school of swordsmanship known as the one-strokeschool, which seeks victory through the skilful yet conscious application of technique’’.Modern industrial farming“follows the two-stroke school, which believes that victory can be won by delivering the greatest barrage of swordstrokes”.Pure natural farming is the no-stroke school.It goes nowhere and seeks no victory.Putting‘doing-nothing’into practice is the one thing that the farmer should strive to accomplish...“Fukuoka adds” I believe that ’ Gandhi‘s way, a methodlessmethod, acting with a non-winning, non-opposing state of mind is akin to natural farming.When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized.
The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings‘’.
The fact that Fukuoka is not championing ‘tradition’ as an answer to modernity ought not to lead one to conclude that he is‘equidistant’from or ‘equally opposed‘ to both oriental tradition as well as western modernity.
According to Fukuoka, traditional (oriental) philosophies are valuable as ‘temporary expedientsor directional markers’. The validity of rational knowledge and oriental philosophies in the limited realm of the ‘relative world’ must be recognized, he says. Besides “for modern people living in the relative world, disrupting the order of nature and bringing about the collapse of their own body and spirit’’, oriental philosophy“can serve as a fitting and effective pointer towards the restoration of order’’. That is, in the modern world, traditional philosophies and wisdom are useful inpointing the way towards the ultimate goal, which to Fukuoka is to live according to the wisdom of ‘non-discriminating knowledge’.In terms of farming, Fukuoka sees that an interim or transitionalstage of traditional or ‘organic’ farming may be necessary prior to a change-over to ‘broad’ natural farming.
In more general terms, Fukuoka‘s position seems to be the following : In today’s world where traditional societies face the task of establishing the validity of their civilizational experience in the face of the aggressive and oppressive domination of the Western culture, traditional world-view, philosophic knowledge and sciences and technologies must be the transitional stage through which a complete harmony between human beings and nature is reestablished.
It would be equally wrong to conclude that Fukuoka is opposed to all knowledge of nature that humanity has accumulated over the ages.He acknowledges the value of traditional wisdom acquired over a long period of time.Taking the example of food, he states that the use of salt and fire in cooking is not to be seen as a step in separating human beings from nature; rather, it is natural wisdom acquired by our ancestors and hence it is “a wisdom bestowed by heaven’’.Similarly, cropswhich have evolved over thousands of years by living together with human beings are not “products born entirely from the discriminating knowledge of the farmer” and can be thought of as naturally occurring foods.But the ‘instantly altered varieties’ (Green Revolution varieties) which have not evolved under natural circumstances, but have been developed by ‘an agriculturalscience which has drawn away from nature’ cannot be considered naturally occurring foods.Fukuoka’s‘leave it to nature’ is not to be equated to a mere passive surrender to nature.Hewarns that such an attitude of passivity would lead to disastrous consequences given the extent of ecological damage already caused by the modern science and technology in agriculture.Fukuoka’s own approach to farming is extremely rational in the sense that it involves very minute observations of the natural environment and adaptations based on these observations.His call is for human beings to return eventually to a state of living in complete harmony with nature.
In India, Fukuoka‘s book seems to have evoked considerable interest amongst some of thosewho are searching for alternatives to today’s mode of development, especially in the field of agriculture.The remarkable clarity and insight that Fukuoka displays as regards Western modernityand its attitudes and approaches seem to have strengthened the conviction of some that fundamental alternatives to it have necessarily to be sought and achieved.While this is a very valuable achievement of this book, there is perhaps a definite need for us in India to clearly examine and comprehend as to what exactly arethe new insights and directions that the book is giving us.For, it should be recalled that in the first half of this century this country had witnessed, not only a clear formulation by Mahatma Gandhi of the nature of modernity and ways of combating it, but also a gigantic mass movement under his leadership that made this into one of the main issues of struggle.Even though the issues raised then were not taken forwardand resolved in a manner that was perhaps hoped for, the fact remains that the essentialinsight and understandingwas arrived from our own premises and based on the tradition and experience of our own people.Unless we today make efforts to comprehend and internalise this essentially indigenous perception of the issues and ways of dealing with them, and if necessary refine and develop them, it is highly unlikely that any insights and approaches however brilliant coming from outside of our civilizational context can be of much help.If the interest evoked by Fukuoka’s book canmake us reexamine our own traditions, perceptions and practices so that alternatives could be formulated based on techniques and understanding drawn from the experiences of our own people, then indeed the book would have served a very valuable role.
T. M. MUKUNDAN
PPST Foundation, Madras