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One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

Masanobu Fukuoka was 25 years old when he found his calling: he believed that a system of natural farming could bring great benefit to the world. When we read One Straw Revolution, we could draw parallels between the lives of Masanobu Fukuoka and our founder, Mr. R. Ramaswamy. Both of them were committed to making a difference to the world.

One Straw Revoution is an important work of literature and many of the practices it advocates such as water conservation and effective use of water resonate with Taro’s mission to conserve  water.

As a farming technique, One Straw Revolution has also made a positive impact on many Indian farming initiatives. We thought it might be interesting to read about the seminal book, One Straw Revolution for a different perspective on farming techniques. Literature helps in telling a story differently.  Tell us if you enjoyed it!

Picture of the book on One Straw Revolutionary

One Straw Revolution was first published in 1978 and ever since, it has been one of the most talked about books in the history of food and farming. The book is available for free access through www.archive.org and can either be read online or downloaded.

In the Preface to the book, Wendell Berry, the famed American poet talks about why this book is so important. He says, “Mr. Fukuoka's is a science that begins and ends in reverence—in awareness that the human grasp necessarily diminishes whatever it holds. It is not knowledge, he seems to say, that gives us the sense of the whole, but joy, which we may have only by not grasping.”

One Straw Revolution is a book on Masanobu Fukuoka’s journey into discovering ‘Do nothing farming’, not the act of doing anything at all, but one that embraces Nature’s way of farming over human intellect. Through the 150 pages or so, Fukuoka takes the reader on an almost spiritual journey and quietly dispels every notion of what we have come to believe as essential to modern farming.

“Scientists think they can understand nature. That is the stand they take. Because they are convinced that they can understand nature, they are committed to investigating nature and putting it to use. But I think an understanding of nature lies beyond the reach of human intelligence. “ Fukuoka says.

Elsewhere in the book, he elucidates what he has done in his fields. His fields have not been ploughed for 25 years. An excerpt reads, ‘In caring for a quarter-acre field, one or two people can do all the work of growing rice and winter grain in a matter of a few days. It seems unlikely that there could be a simpler way of raising grain.

This method completely contradicts modern agricultural techniques. It throws scientific knowledge and traditional farming know-how right out the window. With this kind of farming, which uses no machines, no prepared fertilizer and no chemicals, it is possible to attain a harvest equal to or greater than that of the average Japanese farm. The proof is ripening right before your eyes. ‘

The book is rife with aphorisms such as “Get rid of the aspects of inside and outside. Farmers everywhere in the world are at root the same farmers. Let us say that the key to peace lies close to the earth.”

One Straw Revolution is not just about farming. It takes the reader through the importance of preserving local seasons, cultural values, diet and health. There are sections of the book that are devoted to these aspects. Although the book revolves around farming in Japan and therefore, follows the food patterns and cycle of the country, there are several universal truths that one can garner from the book. 

A book like this could serve as a guide for farmers who are looking to getting back to organic ways of farming and conserving resources such as water.