State's rural development and agriculture departments to work together to encourage organic farming
Taking note of the Non Pesticide Management (NPM) technique, the Andhra Pradesh government issued an order on May 16 that the agriculture department will work in collusion with the rural development department to reduce the cost of cultivation and move towards pesticide-free cultivation in the state.
According to the order, the agriculture department's Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) will now collaborate with the rural development ministry's Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) to promote sustainable agriculture and move towards organic agriculture through Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA).
SERP had initiated CMSA in 2004 and under the project promoted NPM. The technique does away with the use of any synthetic pesticide in agriculture. Instead, homemade concoctions like those made from neem, garlic, chillies, plant and herb extracts, cow dung and cow urine are used along with other traditional methods of pest control.
The term NPM was coined in 1998 by M S Chari, scientific adviser to Centre for World Solidarity, a non-profit that helped to solve the problem of the red hairy caterpillar that was ruining red gram crop in the Telangana region. After a series of tests, the non-profit concluded pesticides were not required in cultivation.
SERP took the programme forward with aid from the World Bank and the Centre. The society started NPM on a 162-hectare land in 2004. It is now being practiced in 10 lakh hectares in the state. “This is a positive step. We will use this opportunity to spread chemical-free sustainable agriculture to all the non-CMSA villages as well,” says D V Raidu, director, CMSA. Though CMSA has spread to all the 22 districts of the state, it is yet to go to each village, which Raidu points out will become smoother with the agriculture ministry coming in.
The agriculture ministry has taken the plunge going by the past record of the performance of the CMSA. The ministry acknowledges the fact that income of the farmers have increased substantially and they get better price for their pesticide-free produce.
“NPM is just a stepping stone. We are aiming at becoming chemical-free,” says Raidu. He adds that in the last three years, fertiliser consumption has come down by 50 per cent, biodiversity in these fields has increased and the so have the number of trees.
Now, both the ministries will work together in the state. The rural development ministry will train the ATMA staff on the CMSA model, which after due training will work with self-help groups to popularise the low cost and high return agriculture. SERP will continue to working at places they have already started their work and will be instrumental in the formation of self-help groups, the most important component of the CMSA. The agriculture ministry agency will provide infrastructure for backward and forward linkages to farmers practicing the NPM method of farming.