India minister backs 'yogic' farming to 'empower seeds'

image sourceAP
image captionMore than 50% of India's population depends on agriculture for a living

The Indian agriculture minister has said his government is supporting "yogic" farming to "empower seeds with the help of positive thinking".

Radha Mohan Singh said it would help improve yield and soil fertility and contribute to making India prosperous.

More than 50% of India's population depends on agriculture for a living.

But farming in India has been going through a crisis in recent years with thousands of farmers killing themselves in despair over poor harvests.

The minister's comments follow earlier controversial statements - in July, he was criticised for his bizarre comments that farmer suicides were a result of "failed love affairs" and "impotency".

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image captionAgriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has been criticised for his controversial comments in the past too

At a function attended by farmers and agriculture scientists in Delhi at the weekend, he once again stunned the audience by saying that "farmers should give vibrations of peace, love and divinity to seeds" to encourage growth and make them resistant to pests.

"Such exercise is accepted by my ministry essentially to enhance Indian farmers' confidence. Indian farmers have, over the years, lost confidence in the age-tested knowledge of farming," the minister was quoted by The Indian Express as saying.

Mr Singh is part of India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is accused by the critics of trying to promote traditional beliefs even when they are not backed by scientific evidence.

The BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi says yogic - or yoga - is essentially about the ancient Indian philosophy which helps control body and mind and, in recent years, has been embraced by the wider world as a form of exercise for its health benefits.

Earlier this year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led 35,000 people in a mass yoga programme in the capital, Delhi, in an attempt to set a world record.

But yoga's popularity notwithstanding, the agriculture minister's comments on yogic farming have left many scratching their heads in India, our correspondent adds.

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