Site visit to Chetana Vikas, an AID sponsored project to fight farmer suicides in central India.
A total 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in India in the past 20 years, primarily in the central Indian region of Vidarbha and Telangana. The primary causes are the introduction of high input farming, low farm credit/loan, reduced water levels due to deforestation, the unfair price given to farmers (especially cotton growers). The introduction of genetically modified (GM) cotton primarily by Monsanto has further increased the cost of farming and further led to distress in India. Increased use of pesticides in farming has increased instances of cancer cases across India.
This is a site visit to a village called Narsinghpur (Population: 425) in Tivsa Taluka. The project is undertaken by the organization Chetana Vikas. It has been found that the input cost for five acres of sustainable and organic farming is around Rs. 35,000 compared to Rs. 2 lakhs+ for GM farming for the same amount of land in the adjacent field. The farms are near a forest that increased attacks from wild animals on organic produce. This loss was reduced by use of innovative solar fence by farmers under Chetana Vikas program. The cost of the solar fence comes around Rs. 50,000 for 15 acres of land compared to Rs. 6 lakhs for 15 acres of land by larger companies. This combined efforts of innovative sustainable farming and low solar fence will lead to an agricultural revolution in central India.
This effort in dry land farming will help in reducing farm suicides and reduction in the use of Pesticides in our day to day life.
Date of site visit: January 17 – 2015
AID volunteer: Nishikant Deshmukh (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Farmer name: Mrs. Suman Kinkar and Mr. Janardan Kinkar
Total farm size: 5 acres
Method: The technique introduced by Chetana Vikas involves sowing 31 different types of crops in the field. These crops support each other by acting as a shield from pests and as fertilizer after the harvest. The harvesting time is different for different crops, hence, after harvest, the crop is left in the field to become fertilizer. These techniques in the field work across Maharashtra are cumulatively shared with thousands of farmers that visit Chetana Vikas each year in Wardha. This model is for small and marginalized farmers under acute water shortage and called dry land farming.
Key results in the field:
- Cotton: 6 Quintal
- Jowari: 20 Quintal in 1 and a half acre of land.
- Toor: 5 Quintal in 4 acres of land
These results are better than the results of corresponding fields undertaken under GM cotton cultivation. This is a model that defeats mono-culture of crop harvesting that has replaced the traditional methods. Farmers consume the produce at their home and sell the left over produce. They can cultivate commercial crops like Cotton, Jowari, Fennel and Toor to get high returns to the farmers.
Figure 1: (right to left) Niranjana Maru, Ashok Bang (Director of Chetana Vikas), Janardan Kinkar (Village Engineer), and Nishikant Deshmukh (AID volunteer).
Figure 2: Mrs. Suman Kinkar and Mr. Janardan Kinkar showing us the fennel (सौंफ़) produce in their farm. This is a highly diversified crop structure not found in central India.
Figure 3: Mr. Janardan Kinkar is standing at the place where his father committed suicide 25 years ago by consuming pesticide.
Figure 4: This is the water level (1 feet) in Kinkar families field well. Very low level of water to support any agricultural activities.
Figure 5: Mr. Kinkar has a total 5 acres of land that is under sustainable farming and his brother has an adjacent 5 acres of land that is growing GM cotton.
Figure 6: Mostly women laborer working in the field.
Figure 7: Mr. Kinkar explaining the innovative Solar Fence that has been sponsored by AID. Total cost of building this fence is Rs. 50,000 for 15 acres of land. The same Fence will cost Rs. 6 lakhs in the market.
Figure 8: The fence runs across the 15 acres of land. You can see adjacent forest from where animals attack the organic farms.
Figure 9: Mrs. Kinkar is showing the harvest stored in the granary boxes supported by AID.
Good Bye to Narsinghpur. We purchased 5 kgs of organic Jowar from the Kinkar household. The villagers were very hospitable despite their economic conditions.