Academically I was average student during my graduation and most of the subjects I mugged only because of hourly and externals exams. In my four year of graduation period I could not cross 7 CGPA line (my overall is 6.998) but I was much convinced to work with farmer community. What I will do that I never thought (because I never knew technical things). In four year we read more than 50 courses but I could relate only with 4-5 courses. Communication and Economics always attracted me and I tried to learn beyond our class room sessions. Surprisingly one subject (which is amalgam of different subjects) organic farming gave me a different perspective to think about agriculture. Concept of low input based sustainable farming was always somewhere back in my mind. Even when we were using chemicals in our PCP (Practical crop Production course where we grow and manage paddy and wheat in 1 Ha land for one year) plots that time also I was not convinced with these practices but because it was 4 credit course so we need to apply all chemical stuff. How Gurpreet and I applied dust chemical in plots just one day before AIT that is another story.
Now when I am working with farmers in South Gujarat and all the farmers with whom we are working they belong to tribal community. They are mostly illiterate and largely their livelihood depends on agriculture. They have small land holding and at present we are promoting SRI with them. Here we are determined to promote low input based farming and after Satymev Jayate show (thanks to Amir and his team) my motivation gets more strength.
Our working area is spread in three districts and this year first time we targeted 1200 farmers under SRI (System of Rice Intensification). Because of poor Monsoon only 700 farmers could do SRI successfully and now all are happy with plant growth and production. Here we promoted only organic practices in SRI and trained to farmers for using bio and vermin compost in their field. Those bio fertilizer (commonly known as Amrit Pani) farmers are preparing themselves by using natural inputs.
Yesterday on 13th October we organised a farmer fair in Nausari district where we invited farmers from 15 villages. This fair had two major objectives; 1- mutual sharing on SRI experiences by facilitating discussion among farmers. 2- Promotion of organic methods for pest control in next cropping session. Mainly we targeted potential farmers who will do Paddy in winter session and those who will grow vegetables as cash crop. First we brought all farmers in SRI Field where we discussed about plant growth and different indicators like number of tillers per plant, number of panicle per plant, and number of grains per panicle. Farmers enthusiastically entered in field and counted tillers. They were surprise because in past their experience was only 8-10 tillers per plant but here in SRI plots they count 30-35 average tillers. New farmers were confused on this result and they thought that SRI is a new seed brand.
After 4-5 plot visits we sit in a common place and discussed on agriculture related issues. I was amazed by listening old people wisdom and knowledge on agriculture. The only thought in my mind was if their wisdom and our new technology will work together we can make agriculture a sustained business in this tribal pocket.
Here I shared the news form Bihar where one farmer set world record of Paddy production (22.4 ton from one Ha). No one accepted my point but once I show them news in paper than only they partially agreed.
Before this exposure morning when I reached in a village that time one farmer was ready to apply fungicide in Chilly plant. I asked them that what you are applying, what is the disease, and who suggested you this fungicide? He told that he is observing curly leaf in chilly plants and one banker friend suggested fungicide as treatment. I was also not sure what the disease in plant was but I was convinced that it was not a fungal disease. I asked him how many time in past he already spread fungicide in plot and what result he observed? He told that it is fourth time he was applying but still problem is same. The fungicide packet cost was 340 Rs. I requested him to come in our farmer fair where we discussed on biological method of disease control. We demonstrated to prepare Amrit pani (locally we called amrit pani but actually it works as bio pesticide) which farmer can prepare free of cost in home by locally available products. That we already tested in SRI plots and we observed amazing results. About 200 farmers learnt how to prepare it and promised that they will prepare and use in next cropping session. We closed the session after having tea session but during discussion I learnt a new perspective of thinking that how innocent our farmers (Here I am talking about only small and marginal farmers) are how companies are make a trap around them to sell their product. One farmer shared that last year also he heard about SRI in KVK and that time he thought it is a variety. He reached in a agro shop and asked about it and shopkeeper cheaply told that yes SRI is a seed variety and he sold him one seed packet at much higher price. They all said heartily thanks to our initiative and work for bringing SRI method here in tribal belt. Over all farmers are happy so we are.
Although it was a hectic day and we had official holiday. Earlier also I forget that now election code of conduct is applied in Gujarat so we cannot do any public gathering but in spite of all challenges we did this event. It was a challenge for my staff and me also because first time we were organizing it but as old saying good intensions bring success to you, we could manage everything successfully. If everything will go fine than our plan is to promote organic methods of farming across our working area to reduce the input cost and sustains local resources for next generation.
here I am sharing a small pictorial presentation on SRI; you can use it for further promotion.