Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Plum job not enough, he lives his passion

Jalandhar,Having left a well-paid job to pursue his passion for organic farming, 29-year-old Anurag Arora has set an example for many.

He pumped all his savings into the start-up he named as MINK Organics, based at Kewal Vihar here. Anurag aims to empower Punjab through healthy food and education in organic farming.

It was four years ago when Anurag left his job as HR head at Trident Group, Batala. During his job, he witnessed the drug menace first-hand in the Malwa belt. That’s exactly when he felt that something was missing in his life and he wasn’t contributing towards his motherland.

He then decided to quit his job and started Mink Organics to help people around and improve their health.

Owning no land couldn’t stop this couple from starting an organic revolution!

KP Illias from Kerala and Shamika Mone from Maharashtra are perhaps the best example for the fact that a shared passion is the recipe for lifelong happiness.

Together, they have been silently driving an agrarian revolution in the country in recent years, and have not just guided seasoned farmers but also driven interest in youngsters to pursue organic farming.

But here’s the catch: they don’t have a single patch of land to their names!

How a corporation patented Ethiopia’s most common staple

In 2005, the Ethiopian Institute of Biodiversity and Conservation partnered up with the Dutch company Health and Performance Food International (HPFI) to marketize one of Ethiopia’s most valuable staples, the teff grain – the main ingredient found in injera bread, now widely dubbed a cosmopolitan ‘superfood’.

The agronomist Jans Roojsen, who spearheaded the project under HPFI, applied for the patent in 2003 and gained it in 2007, thus acquiring the rights to market, sell or import the grain as they wanted without the Ethiopian partnership – meaning that HPFI alone had the rights for the teff grain.

In the beginning, this was seen as a profitable exchange. The Dutch were to be supplied with grains and indigenous foods to market in Europe and local producers were supposed to be paid for their stock, benefiting from a so-called ‘development fund’.

But, the success of the grain never materialized and HPFI went bankrupt in 2009. The agreement with Ethiopia no longer existed and the country only managed to get €4,000 (USD$ 4,479.00) in profits over the five years of cooperation.

Eventually, according to a report made by a Norwegian environmental research institute in 2012, the founders of the Dutch project bought back the patent on teff for €60,000 (USD$67,000).

The report calls the move a clear case of ‘biopiracy’, writing that ‘Ethiopia found itself discarded, prevented from using its own genetic resources in several European countries.’

Pesticide overdose goes unchecked in Punjab

Jalandhar, While an FIR was lodged against suppliers of spurious pesticides in the city on Wednesday, the use of spurious pesticide sellers in the district on Wednesday, spurious pesticides are being sold with impunity in the state increasingly as – a lucrative business – the pesticide sellers continue to operate openly.

While the state has one of the most notorious tales of contamination of ground water due to pesticides in the region which is leaving a trail of cancer deaths in many villages, farmers say notwithstanding the occasional arrests, the quality and measure of pesticide being sprayed onto fields is unregulated and largely unmonitored.

200 Andhra villages take to natural farming and ban use of chemicals

Anantapur: About 200 villages under 20 clusters involving 100,000 farmers have been declared ‘natural farming’ villages by the department of Agriculture in the district. The department’s natural farming project is part of the government’s plan to popularize natural farming and bring down the use of chemicals and pesticides in agriculture crops.

Encouraging illegal planting of BT brinjal in India

In February 2010, the Indian government placed an indefinite moratorium on the commercial release of Bt brinjal. Prior to this decision, numerous independent scientific experts from India and abroad had pointed out safety concerns regarding Bt (insecticidal) brinjal based on data and reports in the biosafety dossier that Mahyco, the crop developer, had submitted to the regulators.

The then Minister of the Ministry of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh had instituted a unique four-month scientific enquiry and public hearings. His decision to reject the commercialisation of Bt brinjal was supported by advice from renowned international scientists. Their collective appraisals demonstrated serious environmental and biosafety concerns, which included issues regarding the toxicity of Bt proteins resulting from their mode of action on the human gut system.

5 engineers who became organic farmers to earn better & live healthier!

It takes a great deal of courage to forsake one’s four-years worth of degree (sometimes even more) and well-paying jobs to pursue something as basic as farming.

Engineering was once, and perhaps still is, the most sought after career lines in India, but you’ll all agree that in recent times, more and more people are bidding goodbye to their respectable jobs and hefty pay packages to pursue something in which they really believed.

I personally know friends and acquaintances who took up engineering under parental pressure. Though some chose to make the switch early, others didn’t have the luxury and it would take them years to finally break free.

There are engineers who became filmmakers, kick-started their own startups or pursued their love for cooking. But it takes a great deal of courage to forsake one’s four-years worth of degree (sometimes even more) and well-paying jobs to pursue something as basic as farming.

Techie-turned farmer helped villagers embrace organic farming in Maharashtra

Fifty-three-year-old Venkat Iyer quit his lucrative job as a Project Manager at IBM, went on to convince 70 adivasi farmers to take up organic farming, and even helped them market their produce.

Venkat Iyer was leading a comfortable life in Mumbai. He was at the peak of his career in his role as Project Manager at International Business Machines (IBM) when he resigned from his position.

“I was always inclined towards agriculture as an occupation. However, the state of the industry in India has been grim. Though it is considered a mainstay in the country, many farmers are known to have sold their land and moved on to become daily wage laborers due to poor income. Hence, I decided to do my bit to help these farmers improve their earnings and reap the benefits they deserve,” Venkat Iyer tells YourStory.

Professionals take to organic farming

Jalandhar,  The Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM) today organised a meeting with farmers from the Doaba region to discuss benefits of organic farming. Members associated with the mission said a person associated with the medical profession attended the meeting and had shown interest in organic farming.

“People from different professions like doctors, pharmacists, or from other sectors have started showing interest in organic farming. They have started thinking that there is no way out than organic farming to protect one from deadly diseases spreading fast in the society,” said Pankaj Jain, one of the prominent members of the Kheti Virasat Mission.

“The inclination is being observed towards, kitchen gardening and other activities that deals with organic farming,” said Jain.

Govt to promote organic cultivation of indigenous cotton in 3 states

NEW DELHI – The government, under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, is planning to promote the cultivation of indigenous varieties of cotton in the leading growers–Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka–a senior government official said.

“We are encouraging farmers by providing them seeds, and agri-inputs at lower rates to grow more organic cotton. Organic cotton is healthier for human use in comparison with genetically modified varieties,” he said.

Centre is helping farmers to add more area under indigenous varieties of cotton by improving soil health and fertility so that they can get better remuneration. Currently, around 1,000 ha is under organic cotton in the three states, he said.

Kerala farmer’s food forest helps him reap gold from black pepper!

At 2,230 feet above sea level, there is little chance that you will come across an organic farm, let alone a thriving food forest.

Which is why the 5-acre patch of self-sustaining farmland, inside the densely forested village of Patteyakudi in the Idukki district of Kerala, comes as such a surprise.

Here, you will find all sorts of vegetables, native and wild fruits found only in the Western Ghats, medicinal plants and many varieties of spices, being grown without any difficulty.

India must adopt stricter regulation of genetically engineered crops, or face biosecurity breach

India’s seed market hides a sea of illegality, which keeps rearing its ugly head every once in a while. The discovery of genetically modified brinjal in a Haryana farmer’s field is the latest in the list of illegal seeds that have cropped up in India since 2001. That year, it was illegal Bt cotton (a genetically-modified, pest-resistant plant cotton variety); in 2009 it was illegal herbicide-tolerant (H) cotton; a few years later, it was a newer version of Bollgard cotton, or BG 3 as its locally called, and in 2017, a herbicide-tolerant (HT) soybean. All this without official approval from the regulator and enforcer of the law for genetically-engineered crops in India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).

This situation puts the role of the GEAC (formerly Genetic Engineering Approval Committee) squarely under the scanner. An apex regulatory body, with powers to take punitive action when needed, under the Environment Protection Act (EPA), the GEAC seems to have turned a blind eye to these developments.

Karnataka tribal woman turns into organic ‘super farmer’, now earns in lakhs!

In 2007, when the Karnataka state government offered a voluntary relocation package to the 60 families of the Jenu Kuruba tribe, they all signed up and moved from Nagarahole National Park to start a new life in Sollepura colony in HD Kote.

As part of the scheme, the government provided each of these families with a resettlement package of Rs 1 lakh which included Rs 1,000 in cash, a house and three acres of land in the new colony to help them earn decent livelihoods from farming.

One among the people who shifted was Daasi, a widow. Just two months before the move, her husband sadly passed away unexpectedly, leaving the responsibility of their ten children on her.

Zero waste to organic food

For many, home is where the heart is. But, for this 62-year-old woman, home is where just not the heart but also health resides.

Meet Bhavna Shah, who is setting a positive example for generations to follow.

Her home, situated in the quiet of Thaltej-Shilaj road in Ahmedabad, is a world of its own, where she strives to create an ideal sustainable lifestyle, every single day.

Pune store creates zero waste, encourages customers to do the same

Started by Akshay Agarwal and Gajendra Chowdhary, Adrish gives you a complete eco-friendly experience, and focuses on the concept of creating zero waste by not using plastic and non-biodegradable products.

Plastic is found every where today – at home, on roads, in oceans, in animals as well as in the food we eat.

Apart from its ill effects on our health, it is also in many ways responsible for climate change. While there has been a lot of talk about banning the use of plastic, implementing it successfully has been a task still far from being achieved.

And driving this change by going green and discouraging the use of plastics in its primary usage is Akshay Agarwal, a chartered accountant. The 26-year-old, along with his friend, Gajendra Chowdhary, co-founded Adrish, a zero-waste organic lifestyle store chain in Pune.

Bengaluru’s organic farmers’ markets are a reflection of the ‘farm to table’ culture

The ‘Farm to Table’ culture in Bengaluru has picked up in the past few years. Though there are several organisations and initiatives that promote this idea, the process of buying organically grown food directly from the farmer is something that is picking pace in the city — thanks to the farmers’ markets that are held here often. These markets are not just places where one can get organically grown food, but it’s also a place for interaction between the farmers and consumers and more…

Nel Jayaraman’s supporters to host seed fest in Thiruthuraipoondi

Chennai: Farmer and activist Nel Jayaraman’s works have been made a part in Class 12 revised State board Botany textbook in Tamilnadu. A reference is given to the organic farming exponent in the curriculum alongside eminent agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan and popular agronomist Norman Borlaug.

“My uncle always spoke about traditional seeds and organic farming to youngsters and children. I hope the school students help me fulfill his desires,” tells S Raju, nephew of Jayaraman.

Follow GAP guidelines for residue-free basmati: PAU

Ludhiana, The School of Organic Farming, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), organised a training programme on “Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in Basmati Rice” for farmers under Biotech-KISAN, a project sponsored by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.

Farmers from adopted clusters in the districts of Ferozepur, Sangrur and Patiala participated in the training programme. A total of 150 acres of area belonging to various farmers is under the project in three clusters. Basmati seeds, bio-fungicides, bio-fertilisers and leaf colour charts were distributed to farmers to encourage the adoption of GAP in basmati cultivation.

Summer of mango tourism

A unique and niche concept, mango tourism is gaining popularity in India and is giving tourists the rare chance of plucking mangoes directly from orchards, as they enjoy summer strolls in the green and refreshing environs.

Seeing the popularity of mango, considered to be the King of Fruits in India, state tourism boards in the country are organising mango festivals as well as catching up on the growing trend of mango tourism.

The trend that started in the western state of Maharashtra has gradually spread to other parts of the country. Northern states like Uttar Pradesh and southern states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka are also showing interest in the niche tourism and are actively organising tours during the mango season.

Thousands of cows’ lives to be transformed for better

An estimated 125,400 dairy cows will live better lives, following World Animal Protection’s call on Arvind Dairy and Happy Milk to move to higher welfare farming. Arvind Dairy, has a significant presence and a growing market share in North India, sourcing its milk from over 25,000 rural farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh region.

‘Happy Milk’ runs its own organic farm in Tumkur, near Bengaluru, which is currently home to over 400 cows and has partnered with a German tech partner, GEA, as well as with Israeli consultants so as to enhance the quality of their milk and the health of their cows.

How urban organic farming may be working against traditional farmers

Lately, hashtags like #ootafromyourthota and #organicterracegarden are trending on Instagram indicating a growing demographic of urban Indians rolling up their sleeves and joining an internationally burgeoning #growyourownfood movement. Grocery stores stocked with ‘organic’ brands are popping up in every hip urban neighbourhood in the nation, which makes it seem like everyone has received the memo on ‘clean living.’

This is largely reflective of one kind of urban farming, where individuals and startups are capitalising and catering to the urbanites’ desire for a more eco-conscious lifestyle through holdings and rooftop gardens. The former, small-holdings farmers, refers to those who practice subsistence farming on agricultural zones within growing urban limits. But this form of farming has greatly reduced in the last two decades. According to the Karnataka government’s Department of Agriculture, during Bengaluru’s IT boom, the city went from 0.1 million hectares in 2000 to 0.04 million hectares in 2015.

Engineer turned farmers find sustainable life style in farming

Study Engineering in a reputed organisation.. get a degree… land in a plum job…. it would be enough for today’s youth. But for some engineers, their degree doesn’t matter, but only their thinking about sustainable lifestyle matters.

Different engineers who ventured into farming may have different views about farming, but the internal theme is about a sustainable lifestyle.

Abhishek Dharma who first broached the idea to ditch engineering to make a career in the farming, the farmers of north Delhi’s Palla village mocked him by calling ‘Mr Stevia’. Abhishek started his farming with that plant, which is a natural sweetener. Dharma took up agriculture three years ago and did not let anybody bother him.

Promoting organic pulses

“An organic farmer is the best peacemaker today, because there is more violence, more death, more destruction, more wars, through a violent industrial agricultural system. And to shift away from that into an agriculture of peace is what organic farming is doing.” – Vandana Shiva

Assam man farms fish in rooftop pond, turns kitchen waste into bio-pesticides!

Life is but a stream, and we go fishing in! Got no space to fish? You could do it in your own home!

Confused?

You may have heard of urban farms or rooftop kitchen gardens. But what if I said that you could breed and cultivate fish on your rooftop too?

Well, Guwahati-based environmental scientist, Dr Amarjyoti Kashyap, has created a pond on the rooftop of his two-storey building on LNB Road at Hatigaon. He has been rearing and cultivating fish for the last one month.

With 300 millennial farmers, this Assam man’s ‘green army’ is changing how NE farms

Samir Bordoloi, a graduate in agricultural studies secured a well-paying job in the food industry almost immediately after his graduation. This cushy job, in a well known MNC, would teach him many things about the ways of working in the industry.

And most of these lessons were shocking.

Soon after joining his job, Samir, who comes from a farming background from Jorhat, Assam, realised that a wide gap divides what the farmers grow and what consumers buy. This huge gap is mostly occupied by big names in the food industry that allow the produce go through several stages of chemical treatment before readying them for the market. These industries are also responsible for making raw staples across India largely similar—if not identical—although our complex biodiversity offers a surplus variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables.