No pesticides no debts
Enabavi and Ramachandrapuram villages broke away from the pesticide-debt trap. They are now teaching other villages to become debt free and self-reliant
A board with bold letters announces the chemical free and GM free status of Enabavi village in Warangal district. The village stopped using pesticides 10 years ago and adopted organic farming five years later, much before the state rural development ministry decided to officially recognize npm.
Enabavi, with over 110 ha of farmland managed by 52 families, has now become a learning centre for neighbouring villages. Located 80 km from the state capital, it has become a mandatory stopover for members of non-profits, ministers, planning commission members and international organizations keen to gain firsthand knowledge of how organic farming is changing lives for the better.Enabavi made news in Delhi last month at the Indian Organic Trade Fair organized at pusa Institute where Enabavi rice packets sold like hot cakes.
In 2003, there were two types of farmers in Enabavi those who used pesticides and fertilizers and others who practised organic farming. The yields of both groups were the same, but those who followed organic farming methods were earning a few thousand more as they were not using chemicals. Since then, all farmers have converted to organic farming.
|Fruits get organic tag|
|Gopal Mehta, president of Himachal Organic Farmers' Forum (hoff) spoke to Down To Earth on how organic farming has become popular with orchard owners of Himachal Pradesh, who are now growing apples, plums and apricots without using pesticides or fertilizers
When was HOFF formed?
The forum was formed eight months ago with the help of t he state agriculture university and the agriculture department that have been actively promoting organic farming.
Were the farmers open to the idea of adopting organic farming methods?
The farmers have been very enthusiastic about shifting to organic farming. There have been instances when members of the pesticide lobby have tried to dissuade farmers from shifting to organic farming. But farmers are determined to go ahead with the change.
What is the strength of the forum?
The forum has about 7,000 farmers who together own 1,000 hectares across the state. We are concentrating on growing and marketing organic vegetables and fruits like apples, lichees, almonds, plums, apricots and mangoes. As many as 56 farmers have obtained organic certification for their produce and another 2,200 will get certification in about a month. The farmers have to pay just Rs 1,000 each as certification charges.
How have farmers benefited from organic farming?
By shifting to organic farming, farmers have been able to save 80 per cent of the cost of cultivation. Their yields have also increased.
For example, 100 apples grown by using pesticides and fertilizers, weigh 20 kg while the same number of apples grown through organic farming weigh 24 kg. The fruits have more flesh and taste better. They also remain fresh for a longer period.
The farmers are able to get better prices and are making profits. Soil fertility too has improved in the orchards across the state.
Are you exporting organic fruits? Have you decided on a brand name?
We have not thought of exporting as yet. India itself has a big market. We have not even started exporting to other states. We plan to market our produce under the brand name of HOFF. The brand should be out in the market by next April.
|Organic farming has Enabavi villagers smiling again|
|A million inventions|
|Farmers experimenting with traditional methods of crop protection have come up with varied versions of chemical-free agriculture. Most farmers are using intercropping to control pests, improve soil fertility and make farming profitable and sustainable all the year round.
Pheromone traps are being used in villages across the state to find out the level of pest infestation in fields. Villagers have further improvised on the design. Instead of the usual funnel-shaped contraption, bottles are used. These bottles are used to trap pests. Four pheromone traps are enough for one acre.
Villagers have also tried out, successfully, new bio-formulations. Annasuryamma, a 45-year-old farmer of Barravaripalem village in Guntur district, made her own pest control concoction by fermenting nandivardanam flowers (Tabernaemontana coronariae) which saved her chilli crop from leaf miners.
She also used egg, lemon and neem pulp as fertilizer. She found out that fish waste, jaggery and hing helped strengthen the root system. Fermented buttermilk with cow urine, green chillies and garlic paste was found useful in controlling sucking pests in chillies.
Another common bio-fertilizer is ghanajeevastra, made from cow dung, cow urine, jaggery, gram flour and chemical-free clay. It is applied to the soil before sowing and at regular intervals afterwards. This fertilizer is used in place of urea and diammonium phosphate. It activates earthworms, increases water retention capacity and controls pests. For some, bat manure during sowing proved effective for musk melons. It improved the germination and fertility of the crop.
Another farmer, A Yashodamma of Kadapa district, controlled thrips and mites through intercropping chillies, brinjals and tomatoes with chrysanthemum. Last year, she earned a profit of Rs 35,000 by selling organic chillies and flowers. This year, she expects a profit of Rs 60,000.
From chemical and organic farming
|Jillela Yella Reddy
Kallem Village, Warangal.
Uses pesticides and fertilizer
Enabavi village, Warangal.
Uses organic farming methods
|Investment on cotton
crop on one acre
|Rs 15,250||Rs 8, 550|
|Total yield||12 quintals||10 quintals|
|Total gross income||Rs 24,600||Rs 22,000|
|Net income||Rs 9,350||Rs 13,450|
NPM farmers get their land back
|District||Mortgaged in 2004
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