Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Engineering dropout to organic farmer growing 300+ native veggies

Apart from growing chemical-free food, he also created a seed bank named Aadhiyagai (which means first blooming in Tamil), with more than 300 native vegetable and fruit seeds.

In the village of Kuttiyagoundanpudur, close to the arid region of Oddanchatram in Tamil Nadu’s Dindigul district, lies Aadhiyagai Parameswaran’s six-acre farm.

The area lacks a perennial source of water to keep crops well-fed, but 29-year-old aeronautical engineer-turned-farmer, Parameswaran is confident his farm will thrive. His crops can withstand severe drought conditions because they are native to this arid region.

Born in a family of farmers, he grew up watching his parents toil on leased dryland. Although he was studying engineering, his love for the soil surpassed his will to graduate.

“Undoubtedly, a combination of genes, environment, and passion made me discontinue engineering in my fourth year to become a full-time organic farmer in my village.”

Mom’s cancer makes farmer go organic; grows chemical-free food & saves 60% water

The change was not limited to what he had to unlearn, but in a shift in his mindset. Since he genuinely enjoyed farming, the transition was not that difficult.

Ravdeep Singh was raised on a farm in the village of Farwahi, a stone’s throw from Barnala in Punjab. Although his parents worked in different professions, they were always connected with the soil and practised agriculture on their six-acre family plot in the village.

Even after completing his post-graduation with an MA in Defence Studies, Ravdeep remained close to the soil and nature; he knew he wanted to pursue agriculture, despite his educational background.

DRDO is helping Ladakh farmers grow watermelons, tomatoes in a cold desert!

Can tomatoes be grown at -17ºC? Thanks to researchers at #DRDO, Ladakhi farmers are not just growing them without using any chemicals, they are producing a harvest that’s twice the national average!

It’s safe to say that climate conditions in Ladakh, a cold desert, are not exactly suited for growing warm-weather crops like tomato, capsicum, muskmelon and watermelon. Characterised by a rugged topography at an average altitude of over 3,000 metres (approximately 10,000 feet) above sea level, the region endures long and harsh winters and receives a little over 100 mm of annual rainfall.

Mission organic farming — over to Gujarat?

Acharya Devvrat, who has been appointed as the Governor of Gujarat, will get ample opportunities to implement his dream project of ‘organic farming’, which he successfully launched in the state and motivated over 50,000 farmers to adopt this technique.

T-shirts made of organic cotton from Andhra a big hit in Belgium

T-shirts made from organic cotton cultivated by tribals of North Andhra are now becoming extremely popular among music lovers in Belgium.

As many as 30,000 T-shirts made with the cotton in the garment factories based at Tirupur and Coimbatore are now used by the 8,000 participants in one of the biggest electronic dance music festivals (www.tomorrowland.com) organised by Tomorrowland in Belgium from July 19 to 29.

RESET, a futuristic innovation by Grameena Vikas Kendram, an NGO, has partnered with Urban Fibres, Belgium, to make this a reality.

The cotton was raised in 26 villages under Pachipenta, Kurupam and Gummalakshmipuram in Vizianagaram district and Bhamini of Srikakulam district by the tribals. In all 18, tonnes of cotton was collected from the 230 farmers by cultivating it in 250 acres. The yield would have been much more but for the heavy devastation caused by Cyclone Titli in October last year.

74-yo ex-IPS officer turns organic farmer, grows paddy & shrimp in Kerala!

‘If you protect the nation, the nation will protect you’, is the philosophy that P K Hormis Tharakan has lived his life by.

Tharakan, a former Chief of Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) has played many roles in his life. An Indian Police Service officer, Director of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, Chief Advisor of Strategic Affairs and a guest lecturer for International Relations, and through it all, his mantra for life stayed true.

The same motto is now helping Tharakan in his quest to reconnect with his native village Olavaip in Kerala’s Alappuzha district by adopting aquaculture farming and working with the locals.

Gujarat Couple Quits US Job to Create Food Forest!

In April 2016, at the peak of his career in the Silicon Valley, San Francisco-based Vivek Shah decided to quit his job and return to India with his wife Brinda who holds a Masters in Printmaking.

Why?

To build a natural farm.

Telangana’s first organic village is leading the way in natural farming

Hyderabad:  Telangana’s Enabavi village can show the way to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

You have to look keenly to figure out that the stone board leading into Enabavi village once proudly declared ‘chemical-free village’. That was 13 years ago, when all 52 families in the village shifted to natural farming, without using pesticides or chemicals. And this village, about 85 km from Hyderabad, got the tag of Telangana’s first organic village.

This after having earlier witnessed what so called technological revolutions in terms of fertilisers and chemicals, and even seeds, did to farmers. The Warangal region, that shifted in a big way to a commercial crop like cotton, witnessed the highest number of farmer suicides, accidental deaths due to pesticide exposure, agricultural indebtedness and distress due to the vagaries of weather and markets.

Punjab lawyer traded a Rs 1.5 lakh/month package to create a lush eco-farm

In November 2012, Punjab-based attorney, Kamaljeet Singh Hayer, lost his grandfather. The grand old man passed away at the age of 101. During his memorial service, a local MLA walked up to Singh, saying, “Your grandfather lived such a long and fulfilling life.”

This pushed Kamaljeet to introspect on the massive health shift between his grandfather and successive generations. His grandfather had passed without any ailments or a single day in a hospital, but his father died at 53 due to a massive heart attack, and his 10-year-old brother died of a brain tumour!

Ruinous impact of chemical farming

The lip-service paid to organic farming must be backed by budgetary intent. Chemical farming is undeniably harmful

It is a tragic fact that in India thousands of farmers take their lives every year. From 1995 to date, the figure is over 3 lakh farmers. Costly seeds, soil-destroying/life-threatening chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and a monstrous Central government chemical fertiliser subsidy of Rs 70,000 plus crore, lie at the core of the problem.

Kerala to follow collective farming instead of corporate farming, says state agriculture minister

Kerala  would promote collective farming which is done by various co-operatives and community networks like Kudumbashree.

Pointing towards Contract Farming, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, in conference of State Agriculture Ministers in Delhi, has said that farming can become profitable if small and marginal farmers are given access to technological solutions and research. However, the Agriculture Minister of Kerala, VS Sunil Kumar opposed government’s plan to accelerate Contract Farming in the name of advanced technologies and more productivity in the agrarian sector.

Tomar also urged the states to take effective measures to increase crop remuneration, especially by helping the farmers in reducing the input cost, increasing production and promoting exports.

One man’s efforts ensured that this TN village doesn’t rely on borewells anymore!

Back in 2016, Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, an organic farmer residing in Kuttapalayam village in Kangayam Block, Tiruppur district, was very concerned about the severe water deficit in the region.

Following yet another drought, there was no water either for farming or livestock. Farmers from his village and surrounding areas were buying water at exorbitant rates, but those who couldn’t afford it had two options—stop farming or leave their village in search of work elsewhere.

Making matters harder, the Kangayam Block falls in the Kongu region of western Tamil Nadu, a rain shadow region under the Western Ghats.

Kutch’s Wagad or Kala cotton: Back from the (almost) dead

Once upon a time, in the semi-arid plains of Kutch, grew plants that bore soft white tufts of indigenous, Wagad cotton. The cotton’s softness was in contrast to its hardy nature—it required little water, no pesticide, and overall, very little care—perfect for the present-day situation of drought and water scarcity.

However, with the introduction of the long-staple variety of American cotton, indigenous or ‘desi‘ cotton such as Wagad lost its popularity, until the point that it was almost lost. An initiative to revive this short-staple, indigenous variety of cotton—particularly when the charm of Bt-cotton is wearing off and water scarcity is becoming a stinging reality—is, however, slowly bearing fruit.

Goa’s lone company making organic fertilizer chugs on

With the government trying to set up clusters of organic farms, Goa’s only bio-fertiliser unit Cosme Biotech Pvt. Ltd., is hoping for turnaround in its fortunes.  The plant located in the verdant forests of Sarvona, Bicholim, is a modern production facility designed as per international standards. However it operates in isolation with few Goans aware of its existence. It is one of the few certified, genuine, bio-fertiliser units in India but plays a marginal role in boosting local agriculture.

Presently the company employees have their fingers crossed for better times. They are hoping for clientele on the home turf instead of seeking markets in other states. Being excluded from local agricultural production is a sore point for the employees who find their products finding takers in other states and working wonders.

Taking up organic farming at 13, Kerala student now grows 50+ fruits & veggies!

Sooraj CS remembers how his mother would pick tomatoes and chillies from their kitchen garden, wash off the soil and use them to make delicious curry. As a child, he took up small tasks to help her in the garden, and observing how she dug the ground, sowed seeds, tended to the plants and plucked the vegetables when the time came.

This home-garden inspired Sooraj, a BSc Agriculture student to take up organic farming and also help other farmers in Kerala give up chemicals used in agricultural practices.

Stress on zero budget farming: allocation hiked

With special stress of ‘zero budget farming’, the Modi Government on Friday allocated Rs 1,30,485 crore to agriculture sector in its budget 2019- 20—almost 51,000 crore up from the revised allocation of the year 2018-19. In her budget, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed a historic allocation of Rs 1,30,485 crore in the budget 2019- 20—51,459 crore up from revised allocation of Rs 79026 in 2019-20. The increase is mostly due to allocation of Rs 75,000 crore to the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan). This year more than 57% assistance to the farmer would be through Direct Benefit transfer schemes.

50K+ assam kids grow organic veggies in school backyards, earn neat profits!

Being forced to eat and appreciate vegetables, especially the dreaded Karela (bitter gourd), is an extremely painful memory from my childhood. My grandmother would come up with myriad ways of concocting vegetable-based savouries, but they still remained an unwelcome taste to the palate.

The situation is pretty much the same even now.

The story remained the same for the children of the Jorhat district in Assam whose mothers went through the same troubles to make their little ones consume nutrient-rich vegetables but with no tangible results.

But then, suddenly, the tides of vegetable consumption amongst the younger populace changed for the better!

Budget 2019: Innovation and new age farming is the future

The agriculture sector is one of the mainstays of the Indian economy. Therefore, there are great expectations of the sector from the new finance minister for the upcoming Budget. There are several issues to be addressed right from doubling farmer’s income, to structural reforms to make it a profitable business.

New age farming practices has to be at the center of all agricultural reforms. In most of the cases, farmers do not get beyond 20-30 % share in the profits, due to commoditised approach to farm produce. Organic farming has the potential to change the face of agriculture in India today. Currently, we have 1.2 million ha of land under organic production, which comprises only 0.7% of total area under cultivation. This produces around 1.24 million tons of organic produce. The global organic production market is currently valued at $82 billion.

Punjab: Group of youths who prevented stubble burning on 11,000 acres honoured

Known for his literary works that mostly speak about people led movements in Punjab, legendary author and Sahitya Akademy Award winner Jaswant Singh Kanwal turned 101 on June 27. His birthday celebrations were marked with a five-day literary fest – ‘Puranmashi-Punjabi Jor Mela’ at his native village Dhudike in Moga from June 26-30.

During the fest a group of 25 youths was honored with ‘Sardar Jaswant Singh Kanwal Purnamashi Sanman’, an honor given in the author’s name, for saving at least 11,000 acres of fields from stubble burning across 11 villages of Raikot block of Ludhiana by providing stubble management machinery to farmers at cost of Rs 100 per hour only. The youth belong to Gadri Baba Dula Singh Giani Nihal Singh Foundation.

Vizag Pineapple growers prosper with the rise in sales in urban areas

Visakhapatnam: After selling 1,600 pineapples in a couple of days in Kakinada, S Krishna Rao, a pineapple grower near Seethampeta, Srikakulam district, is delighted to see an equally encouraging response from customers in Visakhapatnam for the aromatic fruit. He is one among a team of organic farmers associated with the farmer-producer groups, Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), who headed to the port city with a hope to make considerable proceeds from sacks of pineapples.

India to restore 21 million hectares of degraded land

Delhi,  (Prensa Latina) Two months before the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP 14) Summit, Sept. 2-13, India announced it will restore 21 million hectares of degraded land. India”s initiative is part of the Convention”s goal of achieving neutrality of land degradation worldwide by 2030, and this can only be achieved through sustainable management, combating drought and restoring forests.

The Indian Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, has launched a project on forest landscape restoration as part of the so-called Bonn Challenge, a global effort to restore degraded lands.

According to the Minister, a 3.5-year pilot phase will be implemented in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Karnataka, and the project will eventually be extended to the rest of the country.

Delhi’s organic farming revolution

NEW DELHI:  A‘silent revolution’ is growing in the outskirts of Delhi as its villages have started taking baby steps towards achieving the organic state tag, said Manisha Saxena, secretary cum commissioner (Development) of Delhi government. By ‘silent revolution’, she refers to the farmers in the national capital adopting organic fertilisers and pesticide-free cultivation.

“In the 1960s, farmers were given small tablets to enhance production. We were advised to use one. Instead, we dropped four-five of them in our fields without giving a thought to their implications. Only high production was on our mind,” said Ummed Singh Rana (79) of Qutabgarh, located on the Delhi-Haryana border.

Lack of alternative livelihood linked to Nagaland tribe’s affinity to shifting cultivation

The lack of alternative livelihood options is reinforcing the attachment of the Konyaks, a Nagaland tribe, to the practice of shifting cultivation (jhum), highlights a new study. This perceived economic security is also strengthened by their strong connections to the forests in the outer fringes of the Eastern Himalayas in northeast India.

However, increasing population of Konyaks cannot subsist on the practice, cautioned study co-author D. K. Pandey of the Central Agricultural University, Pasighat.

“Other livelihood options available for the tribe are very limited. Either they are not exposed to or trained in other vocations or settled livelihood such as the cultivation of horticultural crops is not feasible because of the hilly, inaccessible terrain they live in,” Pandey said, adding that off-farm employment opportunities too, are limited, he told Mongabay-India.

Farmer’s cooperative is spearheading the production and marketing of edible moringa oil

A strong breeze rushes around, stirring up fallen leaves and banging doors shut on an exceptionally hot day in Lingamanaickenpatti village in Karur district. It is the region’s kaathadi kaalam (windy season) in this part of Tamil Nadu that is known for its bumper harvests of murungakkai (Moringa oleifera) from February to September.

“The wind knocks down moringa blossoms and the drumsticks that have been left to mature on the trees. We can’t dry the seeds or do any work out in the daytime,” sighs K Saroja, as she switches off the electrical fan in the living room of her homestead to make her voice audible.

Moringa is a hardy plant that thrives in the water-deprived and rocky soil of Karur district. Its long and slender pods, also known as drumstick, are a storehouse of nutrients and a common part of the daily diet in southern India. The leaf (murunga keerai in Tamil), is also valued for its medicinal qualities.

Farmer who runs a museum to preserve traditional seeds

As the country braces itself for yet another bad monsoon, Syed Ghani Khan, a farmer in Karnataka’s Mandya district, is hoping to fight it with traditional farming techniques like multi-cropping and minor millet cultivation. These are the two techniques that helped the farmer from the remote village of Kirugavalu navigate the water crisis during the last three kharif seasons. Largely a paddy farmer in a dryland area, Khan was able to feed his family of 15 and also make a profit of Rs 2 lakh.

Khan, 42, isn’t just another organic farmer, though. He’s a collector and conservationist of traditional seeds, which are housed in a seed museum that he runs. So far, he has conserved 120 traditional mango varieties, over a thousand paddy varieties from all over the world and hundreds of millet seed varieties.