What is Regenerative Agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic farming philosophy that focuses on restoring and enhancing the entire agricultural ecosystem – soil, plants, animals, water, and even human well-being. It goes beyond simply reducing harmful inputs (like in organic farming) and prioritizes actively rebuilding healthy systems that can produce food for the long term.

Key principles of regenerative agriculture include:

  • Minimizing soil disturbance: Using no-till or minimum tillage methods to preserve soil structure and microbial life.
  • Maintaining continuous, diverse plant cover: Using cover crops, crop rotations, and intercropping to protect soil, cycle nutrients, and suppress weeds.
  • Integrating livestock: Using managed grazing practices to improve soil fertility, plant diversity, and overall ecosystem function.
  • Enhancing biodiversity: Planting diverse crops, fostering beneficial insects, and incorporating agroforestry practices to increase resilience to pests and diseases.
  • Adapting to local contexts: Regenerative practices are tailored to specific regions, addressing climate, soil type, and crop needs.

How Does Regenerative Agriculture Differ from Usual Organic Agriculture?

  • Focus: Organic farming primarily focuses on avoiding synthetic chemicals and GMOs. Regenerative agriculture aims for a holistic improvement of the entire ecosystem.
  • Soil Health: Organic farming addresses soil health but regenerative agriculture makes it a central objective. Regenerative practices actively build soil organic matter, boosting fertility and resilience beyond what is achieved through chemical input elimination.
  • Outcomes-Based: Regenerative agriculture focuses on measurable outcomes like increased soil carbon, improved water retention, and enhanced biodiversity, rather than simply a list of dos and don’ts.

Estimating the Market Potential of Regenerative Agriculture in India

While precise data on the market size and CAGR for regenerative agriculture in India is limited, we can explore various factors and make some informed assumptions to understand its potential:

Current Scenario

  • Estimated land under regenerative agriculture: 5 million hectares. 
  • Market value of produce from regenerative farms: USD 2 billion

Market Drivers

  • Growing awareness and demand for sustainable food: CAGR of 10% for the organic food market in India
  • Increasing focus on soil health and water conservation: Projected CAGR of 12% for the soil amendment market in India.

Market Players in Regenerative Agriculture in India

ProducersManufacturers cater to specific needs as the sector evolves.Individual farmers, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), certified organic farms across various crops.
Raw Material SuppliersProviders of key inputs for regenerative practices.Composting facilities, organic fertilizer producers, seed companies offering diverse varieties and cover crops, bio-fertilizer and microbial inoculant companies.
Manufacturers (Limited)Organizations play supporting roles in the ecosystem.Potential future players: specialized equipment manufacturers, value-added product processors focusing on premium markets.
Technology Solution ProvidersProviders of digital tools and technologies supporting regenerative practices.Agritech startups developing farm management tools, precision agriculture companies offering data analytics and satellite imagery, research institutions and universities conducting research and providing training/extension services.
OthersCertification bodies for organic or regenerative agriculture, NGOs, and civil society organizations promoting awareness, policy advocacy, and farmer support.Certification bodies for organic or regenerative agriculture, NGOs and civil society organizations promoting awareness, policy advocacy, and farmer support.

Examples of existing initiatives

  • Producers: ReNature (social enterprise), individual farmers adopting regenerative practices.
  • Raw Material Suppliers: vermicompost producers, and seed companies offering cover crop varieties.
  • Technology Solution Providers: Kiss My Dirt (an organization promoting soil health and regenerative practices), National Centre for Organic Farming (NCOF) (government research and training institution).

Technical Details of Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is not a single, standardized practice, but rather a framework of principles and practices designed to improve soil health, biodiversity, and ecosystem services in agricultural systems. Here’s an overview of the key technical details and the overall process:


  • Minimize soil disturbance: This can be achieved through various practices like:
    • No-till farming: Avoid tilling the soil to preserve its structure and microbial communities.
    • Cover cropping: Planting additional crops between main cash crops to protect the soil, suppress weeds, and fix nitrogen.
    • Mulching: Covering the soil with organic materials like straw or compost to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
  • Build soil organic matter: This is crucial for healthy soil fertility, water retention, and nutrient cycling. Practices include:
    • Composting: Decomposing organic materials to create nutrient-rich compost that can be applied to the soil.
    • Biochar application: Utilizing biochar, a charcoal-like material, to improve soil fertility and carbon sequestration.
    • Manure application: Using composted manure from animals as a natural fertilizer and soil amendment.
  • Promote biodiversity: This encourages a healthy and balanced ecosystem, fostering natural pest control and enhancing soil health. Practices include:
    • Planting diverse crop varieties: Diversifying crops reduces the risk of pest outbreaks and promotes beneficial insect populations.
    • Creating habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators: Planting flowering plants and maintaining hedgerows can attract these beneficial insects.
    • Integrating livestock: Integrating animals like cows or chickens into the farming system can provide manure for fertilization and contribute to biodiversity.
  • Reduce external inputs: This aims to build self-sufficient and resilient systems. Practices include:
    • Using organic fertilizers and pest control methods: This reduces reliance on synthetic chemicals and promotes long-term soil health.
    • Enhancing natural nutrient cycling: By fostering healthy soil life and diverse plant communities, the system can better utilize available nutrients.
    • Focusing on preventive measures: Implementing practices like crop rotation and integrated pest management can help reduce the need for external inputs.
  • Holistic management: Regenerative agriculture takes a holistic view of the farm as an ecosystem, considering the interactions between soil, water, plants, animals, and humans. This involves:
    • Understanding the local context: Adapting practices to specific soil types, climate conditions, and resource availability.
    • Continuous learning and monitoring: Regularly assessing soil health, crop performance, and environmental impacts to improve practices over time.

Process Overview

  1. Planning and assessment: Farmers first assess their land, soil health, and current practices. This involves considering factors like soil type, existing fertility levels, and current crop rotations.
  2. Implementation of regenerative practices: Based on the assessment, farmers implement various practices like cover cropping, no-till farming, or compost application.
  3. Monitoring and adaptation: Farmers continuously monitor the impact of their practices on soil health, crop yields, and other ecological indicators. This allows them to adapt and refine their approach over time.

Top 10 States in India with Potential for Regenerative Agriculture

RankStatePotential Drivers
1SikkimFocus on organic farming, and initiatives to conserve traditional mountain agriculture.
2Andhra PradeshLarge-scale government program promoting zero-budget natural farming with regenerative elements.
3KeralaDiverse agroecological zones, increasing focus on organic farming.
4Himachal PradeshCommitment to natural farming, focus on off-season vegetables.
5Madhya PradeshLeading producer of organic cotton and soybeans, potential for expansion.
6RajasthanGrowing interest in dryland farming and drought-resistant agriculture.
7UttarakhandFocus on organic farming, and initiatives to conserve traditional mountain agriculture.
8Tamil NaduDiverse crop production, growing interest in climate-resilient and ecological farming.
9KarnatakaInterest in sustainable agriculture, and initiatives promoting organic and natural farming.
10OdishaFocus on millet production and efforts towards low-input agriculture.

Major Existing Organic Farming Initiatives

Here’s an overview of major existing organic farming initiatives in India, categorized into different types:

Government Initiatives

  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): A flagship scheme promoting cluster-based organic farming, providing support for input production, certification, and market access.
  • Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER): Specifically targets the development of organic value chains in the Northeastern states of India.
  • National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): While broader in scope, includes components supporting organic farming through practices like on-farm biomass recycling and soil health management.
  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY): Provides states flexibility to design and implement programs aligned with organic farming principles.
  • State-level Programs: Several states have individual initiatives under their agricultural departments to promote organic farming.

Support Mechanisms

  • National Centre of Organic Farming (NCOF): Serves as a central resource for research, training, and extension services related to organic agriculture.
  • National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP): Provides the framework for standards, certification, and accreditation in the organic sector.
  • **APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority): ** Facilitates the export of organic products from India.

NGOs and Civil Society

India has a vibrant network of NGOs and civil society organizations actively involved in promoting organic farming, farmer training, and creating awareness. Some prominent examples include:

  • IFOAM Organics Asia: The regional chapter of the global IFOAM organization, is actively engaged in promoting organic farming across Asia.
  • Navdanya: An organization focused on biodiversity conservation, seed sovereignty, and supporting farmer-led organic agriculture movements.
  • Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA): Promotes community-managed approaches and Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) practices for sustainable and chemical-free agriculture.

Specific Opportunities and Drivers in Regenerative Agriculture for Different Stakeholders in India

ConsumersAccess high-quality, healthy, sustainably produced food. Support environmental and social sustainability.Improve soil health and long-term productivity, potentially increase yields and resilience, access premium markets, and reduce reliance on costly chemical inputs.
FarmersImprove soil health and long-term productivity, potentially increase yields and resilience, access premium markets, and reduce reliance on costly chemical inputs.Growing demand for regenerative products, potential government support and incentives, long-term economic benefits, and improved environmental stewardship.
GovernmentPromote sustainable agriculture, improve soil health and water management, contribute to climate change mitigation, and enhance farmer livelihoods and rural development.Addressing environmental challenges, promoting sustainable food production, improving farmer income and rural well-being, and aligning with international sustainability commitments.
BusinessesDevelop and supply solutions for regenerative practices (organic fertilizers, bio-inputs, precision agriculture technologies).Growing market demand for sustainable products, potential market share, and profitability increase, contributing to a more sustainable food system, and attracting environmentally conscious consumers.
Research Institutions & NGOsConduct research on adapting practices to local contexts, develop training and extension programs for farmers, and raise awareness about regenerative agriculture’s benefits.Contributing to solving environmental challenges, promoting sustainable agriculture, supporting farmer knowledge and capacity building, and fostering a more sustainable food system.

Regenerative Agriculture in India: Key Aspects for Businesses

AspectBusiness OpportunitiesChallenges
Growing DemandConsumers increasingly seeking ethically produced, sustainable food.Educating consumers about regenerative practices and differentiating products.
Premium Market PotentialRegeneratively grown products can command premium prices.Building robust market access and certification systems.
Innovation in Inputs and TechnologiesDeveloping and supplying organic fertilizers, bio-inputs, and precision agriculture tools for regenerative practices.Research & development costs, ensuring product efficacy and affordability for farmers.
Supply Chain PartnershipsCollaborating with farmers adopting regenerative practices to secure a reliable supply of produce.Building trust with farmers, offering fair contracts and technical assistance.
Investment OpportunitiesSupporting initiatives promoting regenerative agriculture through investments or partnerships.Finding viable investment models and navigating potential policy uncertainties.
Building a Sustainable BrandHighlighting commitment to regenerative agriculture principles to attract ethically conscious consumers.Ensuring transparency and traceability in sourcing and production processes.

Key Challenges of Regenerative Agriculture in India

1. Small Landholdings and Fragmented Markets

  • India’s agricultural landscape is dominated by smallholder farmers with limited land ownership. This makes it difficult to achieve economies of scale and secure reliable market access for regenerative products.
  • Aggregating farmers into cooperatives and building efficient value chains is essential to overcome this challenge.

2. Lack of Context-Specific Knowledge

  • Regenerative practices need to be adapted to India’s diverse agroecological zones and cropping systems.
  • Existing research often focuses on single practices rather than holistic approaches, and localized knowledge about effective practice combinations is limited.
  • Robust research and participatory farmer-led trials customized to different regions are needed.

3. Initial Input Costs and Certification Barriers

  • Sourcing reliable organic inputs (like compost and biofertilizers) can be expensive and challenging.
  • The organic certification process can be complex and bureaucratic, particularly for small farmers.
  • Developing decentralized input production systems and streamlined certification processes will help reduce these barriers.

4. Water scarcity and Uncertain Climate

  • Many regions in India face water scarcity and erratic rainfall patterns.
  • Regenerative practices adapted for dryland agriculture and improving water use efficiency are crucial.
  • Climate-resilient cropping systems and farmer training in adaptive management become extremely important.

5. Inadequate Policy Support

  • While programs like PKVY and CMNF exist, there’s no dedicated policy framework specifically focused on regenerative agriculture in India.
  • Targeted subsidies, incentives for soil carbon sequestration, and knowledge-sharing platforms would significantly stimulate adoption.

6. Limited Awareness and Capacity Building

  • Many farmers lack awareness about the full spectrum of regenerative practices and their long-term benefits.
  • Farmer field schools, demonstration plots, and extension services tailored to regenerative agriculture are essential for knowledge dissemination.

Additional India-Specific Challenges

  • Social and Cultural Barriers: Some traditional practices might be deeply ingrained, hindering the adoption of new approaches. Community-led approaches and showcasing successful examples are key to overcoming this.
  • Livestock Integration: Optimizing livestock’s role in regenerative systems within the Indian context needs further research and practical models.

State and Central Policies That Support Regenerative Agriculture.

Central Government Initiatives

  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): A flagship scheme promoting cluster-based organic farming, providing support for input production, certification, and market access. While not explicitly using “regenerative” terminology, many practices promoted under PKVY, like organic composting and crop rotation, align with regenerative principles.
  • Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER): This mission specifically targets developing organic value chains in the Northeastern states, potentially leading to improved soil health and biodiversity, aligning with some aspects of regenerative agriculture.
  • National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): This broader program includes components supporting practices like on-farm biomass recycling and soil health management, which contribute to building healthy soil ecosystems, a key aspect of regenerative agriculture.
  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY): This scheme provides states with the flexibility to design and implement programs aligned with organic farming principles and potentially incorporate elements of regenerative agriculture.

State-Level Programs

Several states have individual initiatives under their agricultural departments promoting organic farming and practices that indirectly contribute to regenerative agriculture goals:

  • Andhra Pradesh: The state’s flagship program, Community Managed Natural Farming (CMNF), promotes zero-budget natural farming with practices like composting and mulching, potentially leading to improved soil health and water conservation, aligning with some regenerative principles.
  • Sikkim: The first fully organic state in India, Sikkim’s organic farming initiatives focus on soil health improvement, biodiversity conservation, and reduced reliance on chemical inputs, all elements of regenerative agriculture.
  • Karnataka: The state’s interest in sustainable agriculture has led to pilot projects and initiatives promoting practices like cover cropping and integrated pest management, which can contribute to improved soil health and resilience, aligning with regenerative goals.

Additional Support Mechanisms

  • National Centre of Organic Farming (NCOF): Serves as a central resource for research, training, and extension services related to organic agriculture, which often overlaps with practices promoted in regenerative systems.
  • National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP): Provides the framework for standards, certification, and accreditation in the organic sector, which can be a stepping stone towards adopting regenerative practices.

Strategic Initiatives Taken by Indian Industries in the Regenerative Agriculture Sector

1. Input Manufacturing and Supply

  • Biofertilizers and bio-pesticides: Companies are investing in developing and promoting biological alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, such as neem-based products, microbial inoculants, and compost teas. This supports farmers transitioning towards more sustainable practices.
  • Precision agriculture technologies: Companies are developing precision tools for nutrient and water management, pest monitoring, and soil health analytics, tailored to the needs of regenerative systems.

2. Market Development and Value Chains

  • Direct sourcing and partnerships: Some food processing companies and retailers are establishing direct sourcing relationships with farmers implementing regenerative practices. This ensures a reliable supply of produce while supporting farmer livelihoods.
  • Premium product lines: Development of product lines specifically focusing on regenerative ingredients or produce. This helps create a market niche with the potential for premium pricing.
  • Consumer awareness campaigns: Industries are raising consumer awareness about the benefits of regenerative agriculture through product labeling, educational campaigns, and partnerships with NGOs.

3. Research and Development

  • Collaboration with research institutions: Industries collaborate with agricultural universities and research institutes to develop and test regenerative practices suitable for Indian conditions.
  • On-farm trials and demonstration plots: Businesses are establishing demonstration farms and trials to showcase regenerative techniques and facilitate knowledge transfer to farmers.
  • Investment in startups: Emerging investment interest in agritech startups that focus on solutions supporting regenerative practices – from input development to market linkages.

4. Advocacy and Collaboration

  • Policy engagement: Industries participate in dialogues with policymakers to advocate for policies supportive of regenerative agriculture, such as incentives or procurement policies.
  • Multi-stakeholder initiatives: Businesses engage in industry alliances and multi-stakeholder partnerships with NGOs, research institutions, and farmer groups to promote regenerative agriculture at scale.

Examples of Indian companies involved

  • ITC Limited: Their large-scale watershed development and sustainable agriculture programs include elements of regenerative practices.
  • Godrej Agrovet: Focuses on sustainable agriculture inputs and farmer training programs.
  • FMCG India: Invests in sustainable crop protection solutions and promotes integrated pest management aligned with regenerative principles.
  • Several smaller niche companies and startups are emerging in the organic input production, regenerative product marketing, and precision agriculture space.


Regenerative agriculture offers a transformative approach to farming in India, focusing on restoring soil health, enhancing biodiversity, and improving water management. Practices such as no-till farming, diverse crop rotations, and managed livestock grazing address soil degradation and climate resilience. Key stakeholders, including farmers, government bodies, businesses, and NGOs, recognize its potential for creating sustainable food systems and long-term agricultural productivity. Growing consumer demand and strategic investments in research and technology further support the expansion of regenerative agriculture in India.

Despite its promise, challenges such as small landholdings, initial input costs, and the need for localized knowledge persist. Overcoming these obstacles requires coordinated efforts to develop efficient value chains, streamline certification processes, and enhance farmer education. By fostering a supportive policy environment and leveraging technological innovations, India can overcome these barriers and lead in regenerative agriculture, achieving economic and environmental benefits while promoting food security and addressing climate change.

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