Masanobu Fukuoka: Father of Natural Farming

Masanobu Fukuoka: Father of Natural Farming

Masanobu Fukuoka as a Pioneer of Natural Farming

Masanobu Fukuoka (2 February 1913 – 16 August 2008) was a Japanese pioneer/father of Natural Farming and is considered one of the most influential figures in the agricultural world. The method is quite famous and in Japanese is called shizen nōhō or called the Fukuoka method. “The natural way of farming” or “do-nothing farming“. From some of the things above, the agricultural method applied refers not to laziness to carry out land management but rather avoids the use of factory inputs. He is more important in a no-tillage system, without the use of herbicides/pesticides on the cultivators’ farms/.

Masanobu Fukuoka: Father of Natural Farming - His activity spreading his methods
Masanobu Fukuoka’s Various Activities as A Farmer

The system he developed encourages high diversity in every complexity of an agricultural environment. He thinks that this method can reduce air pollution, maintain biodiversity, and reduce soil erosion. Broadly speaking, some of the agricultural methods he applies to include:

  • No tillage
  • No fertilizer
  • No pesticides or herbicides
  • No weeding
  • No pruning

The history of Masanobu Fukuoka developing his farming methods is a long journey. He was born on February 2, 1913, in Minami-yamasaki Village, Iyo District, Ehime Prefecture. In terms of family history, his father,”Kameichi Fukuoka“, was an educated farmer who owned a large land and was considered a prominent figure in Shikoku, Japan at that time. Based on his educational background, he studied agriculture at Gifu University and has expertise in the field of Microbiology and research in agriculture.

After completing his education, he then started a career as a researcher specializing in plant pathology. However, there were several events that changed his mindset, when he was sick due to acute pneumonia that almost killed him, he then promised to change his mindset. Don’t know the exact reason why he changed his mindset regarding agricultural issues. After his recovery, from 1938, Fukuoka began to practice and experiment with new techniques in organic citrus gardens and apply the ideas he had acquired to develop and apply the concept of natural farming.

Masanobu Fukuoka: Father of Natural Farming - Masanobu's quote

However, after the 2nd world war, his father lost most of his agricultural land due to the agricultural land reform that took place in Japan and left only a small area of rice and citrus plantations. However, this incident did not shake his stance to develop his agricultural concept. During 1947, he succeeded in cultivating rice and barley with his method. He wrote the book which was later entitled The One-Straw Revolution, which was published in 1975 and then translated into English in 1978.

Since 1979, Fukuoka began to travel the world intensively by giving lectures, implementing his ideas directly in the field and doing land greening. During his first overseas trip, Fukuoka with his wife Ayako, met the leaders of the macrobiotic diet (a natural diet by consuming low-fat foods) Michio Kushi and Herman Aihara, and was guided by his follower Larry Korn. Meanwhile, they also carried out many field activities by planting seeds on abandoned (unmanaged) land, visiting the University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in California, Lundberg Family Farms, and meeting with United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) representatives including Maurice Strong, who then encouraged Fukuoka to get involved and implement his ideas in the “Action Plan to Combat the decline in agricultural land fertility”.

In 1983, Fukuoka traveled to Europe for 50 days holding workshops, educating farmers, and planting a variety of seeds. In 1985, he spent 40 days in Somalia and Ethiopia, sowing seeds to re-fertilize desert areas, including working in remote villages and refugee camps. He traveled to the Philippines in 1998, doing research on natural farming, and visited Greece later that year to assist with plans to replant 10,000 hectares around the Lake Vegoritida area, Arnissa, Northern Greece. He visited China in 2001, and in 2002 he returned to India to speak at the “Nature as Teacher” workshops at Navdanya Farm and at Bija Vidyapeeth Earth University in Dehra Dun, Uttarakhand, northern India.

Due to his hard work, motivation, and ideas, he received several awards in various countries. In 1988, Fukuoka received the Desikottam Prize from Visva-Bharati University as well as the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in the Philippines, often regarded as the “Asia Nobel Prize“. In March 1997, the Earth Summit +5 forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil awarded him the Earth Council Award, which he received in person at a ceremony in Tokyo on May 26 of that year. This is intended to honor his services and contributions to sustainable development.

Masanobu Fukuoka: Father of Natural Farming - Masanobu Publication
Some of Masanobu’s Publication

In terms of publishing scientific papers, he is also active in writing books. His popular book, later titled The One-Straw Revolution, was published in 1975 and then translated into English in 1978. The book has been translated into more than 20 languages and sold over one million copies and Fukuoka has been very influential, inspiring international movements. Here are some of his book publications that talk a lot about natural farming problems:

  • The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, Translated by Chris Pearce, Tsune Kurosawa and Larry Korn, Rodale Press.
  • The Natural Way of Farming – The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy, translator Frederic P. Metreaud, Diterbitkan by Japan Publications. ISBN 978-0-87040-613-3
  • The Road Back to Nature – Regaining the Paradise Lost, translator Frederic P. Metreaud, Diterbitkan by Japan Publications. ISBN 978-0-87040-673-7
  • The Ultimatum of God Nature the One-Straw Revolution A Recapitulation; English translation,    
  • Sowing Seeds in the Desert: Natural Farming, Global Restoration, and Ultimate Food Security, Edited by Larry Korn dan Chelsea Green.

Masanobu Fukuoka died on August 16, 2008, at the age of 95. Although there are many contradictions with modern agricultural methods related to the methods applied, Fukuoka has given his views related to natural farming by paying attention to the ecological aspects in its implementation in the land. Aligning every agricultural activity with the surrounding environment.

Bibliography Masanobu Fukuoka: Father of Natural Farming

Wikipedia.2021.Masanobu Fukuoka. Accessed via   on 13 September 2021.

Masanobu Fukuoka Natural Farm.About Masanobu Fukuoka. Accessed via  on 12 September 2021

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