Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Lawyer turns 20 barren acres into lush farm, runs school for 140 kids of farmers

In 2014, Noida-based lawyer and animal lover Aparna Rajagopal decided to adopt a rescue horse along with her husband. After working with several NGOs for animal welfare, the young couple wanted to provide a haven for the four-legged creature.

Their urban home was too small to house it, so after consulting a few friends, they decided to lease some land on the outskirts of Noida.

“We thought perhaps a bigha or two would be enough, but the farmer who took us for the site visit told us how there was a stretch of vacant land that we could lease. I remember looking up and just thinking, ‘Why don’t I farm on this land?’ So, to be honest, I stumbled into farming,” says Aparna in an exclusive interview with The Better India.

Today, spread over 20 acres, lies the Beejom Organic Farm and Animal Sanctuary that she built over the last four years.

Women-led farming initiatives are making an impact in India’s agriculture industry

Farmers are constantly on the lookout for newer and more efficient ways of cultivating crops, and these women-led initiatives are bringing just that to the table.

From transforming the lives of farmers and focusing on chemical-free produce, to bringing city-dwellers closer to nature and giving them a hands-on agricultural experience, here are five women-led farming initiatives that are reaching new and innovative heights.

Ancient farming techniques in rural India

The people of Durdih village, in the state of Bihar, India, have a simple existence close to nature, but the encroachment of paved roads and merchants peddling plastic-wrapped snacks has led to some unwelcome changes.

The village has a long history of indigenous farming practices in which the cow is the centre of all agriculture.  A significant amount of this knowledge is being lost as life in the village changes and adapts to new ways of farming.

Walking through a rural village such as this, you might not expect to see children with smart phones eating packaged candies and oily snack foods. But this is what you’ll witness walking through the unpaved village roads of Durdih today.  With a less than optimal waste management system you will find the small drainage canals of Durdih littered with used wrappers.

IIT/IIM alumni quits cushy job, helps 400 MP farmers grow organic ‘food forests’!

“If you make cats responsible for a coop of chickens, they will first wipe out the birds, then fight among themselves and perish. In the end, they end up harming what they were supposed to guard,” says Sandeep to The Better India (TBI).

It is rather uncommon to draw an analogy between cats and the fragile state of the world, but this is how Sandeep Saxena, the man behind developing 6000+ acres of ‘Food-Forests’ in villages of Hoshangabad district, Madhya Pradesh, chooses to make his point.

In 2006, Sandeep, an alumnus of IIT-Kanpur and IIM-Lucknow, returned to India from the United States. He was employed at an MNC, and one aspect of his work involved researching the Indian economy.

DBU hosts second Kisan Mela

Khanna  Desh Bhagat University’s IEDC department organised 2nd Kisan Mela on the campus on Friday. The event was organised by the agriculture and food processing incubator of DBU-IEDC. The event provided a platform to farmers and agricultural experts to interact and share their knowledge about latest techniques, equipment and subsidiary occupations.

University Chancellor Dr Zora Singh and Pro-Chancellor Dr Tajinder Kaur inaugurated the event. They hoped that this Kisan Mela would prove a blessing for farmers and agriculture students.

ADO Amritpal Singh from Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Department, Amloh, said it was the need of the hour to make farmers aware about new agricultural technologies.

Seeds of change

Organic farming needs state support to become the norm rather than exception

A BusinessLine report (March 5) features Rahibai Popere, an adivasi farmer of Ahmadnagar district, who has conserved about 43 varieties in the case of 17 crops (paddy, hyacinth, millets, pulses, oilseeds, among others) by establishing a germplasm conservation centre. Having resisted hybrid seeds for two decades, she has emerged as an ambassador for organic farming in her State and beyond, observing that traditional varieties are better able to cope with pests and the vagaries of weather. Rahibai exemplifies not just the immense value of traditional knowledge, but also the potential of India to become a major organic producer and exporter.

Organic farming is proving a big plus for climate-hit farmers

As climate change brought less predictable weather, farmers Deepankar Mandal and Sanjib Mandal used to struggle with growing uncertainty about whether they would get a crop each season.

“Rains have become erratic, insufficient or wrongly timed,” said Deepankar. “The crops failed, the water table got lower each year (and) there were newer pests attacking our paddy and vegetables.”

In recent years, they have tried a new way to cope: producing biogas from cow manure to provide clean energy at home, and then using the leftover slurry to improve the soil in their fields.

Organic farming champion of Rajasthan exporting produce to Europe

From a small village in south-eastern Rajasthan to international markets, Hukumchand Patidar has made a name for himself in promoting organic farming. The 62-year-old farmer has made his village, Manpura, in Jhalawar district, famous in Japan, Switzerland and Germany, the three countries that import organic farm produce from the village.

Patidar got Padma Shri in 2018 for his contribution to organic farming. President Ramnath Kovind conferred the civilian award to the Jhalawar farmer on March 16. In 2012, he featured in television talk show, Satyamev Jayate, which was hosted by actor and filmmaker Aamir Khan. The show was about highlighting people’s achievements in fighting social issues.

Gurugram’s new age farmers

In Gurugram, urban farmers are attracting attention and urban farming has found a new meaning and definition. In the cyber city, over 200  organisational heads, lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, professionals, teachers and social workers have taken on lease small farmlands where they are themselves  growing tradition fruits, vegetables and grains and various exotic plants. Community organic farming has found its footing amongst the working class people of the millennium city who are out to try their hands at growing fresh organic food items, engage with nature or simply return to their roots and unwind, leaving the hectic city life behind.

This farming culture has not only changed the lives of urbanites but also of local farmers, who are earning thrice the money they did earlier by taking land on contract for agriculture in the traditional way.

NU hosts farmers’ seminar-cum-training prog

Lumami, March 30 (MExN): A farmers’ seminar-cum-training programme on ‘potentials of organic farming of spices for doubling farmers’ income’ was held in Nagaland University’s headquarter Lumami on March 29 and 30. Both the inaugural and valedictory programmes were held in I. Ihoshe Kinimi Hall.

Neha Upadhyaya makes the nation proud

Delhi girl Neha Upadhyaya is going to Yale University after being selected as 2019 World Fellow.  She is among 16 such talented people selected by Yale for its signature international leadership development initiative.

This social entrepreneur chose a path to empower women from backward classes. So she founded an organization – Guna in 2014 and started buying organic products from women farmers.

Soon she created a change as women from all across India started accepting her concept and realized how they could be in control of their own lives. Earlier they often faced problems selling their products to middlemen. With her vision she simply transformed the way farm products are sold. Her idea, she says, was to market ethically-sourced organic food products grown by rural women.

Rattled by 7 cancer cases, Kerala villagers join hands to turn 63 acres organic!

It all began in 2006.

The 101 households within a small ward in the village of Vengeri near Kozhikode, Kerala, were rattled when a survey of the homes in the locality revealed that seven people were battling cancer, five of whom were women. The survey was conducted by the National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers of Providence Women’s College.

“For the longest time, movie theatres, radio stations, televisions, and public service advertisements informed us how smoking and drinking caused cancer. But none of these women were smokers or alcoholics. And for us, almost twelve years ago, the rising cancer cases were shocking,” recalls Reema, a resident of Vengeri.

It was at the time, five members from the village, namely Baburaj Parambath, P P Mohanan, Ramanathan P P, Sathyanathan A P, and Rajeev E P, got together and mobilised the Niravu Residential Society. Members from all 101 households came together to get to the root of the issues plaguing their village and find solutions.

NAFED: Going the organic route

In an attempt to diversify its revenue channels, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) has ventured into the production of bio-fertilisers, organic products and certified seeds. The managing director of the company, Sanjeev Kumar Chadha, talks to Ankita Saxena about the company’s growth plans

After a stellar performance in the last three years, and with the support of the government, NAFED is set to record a turnover of Rs 20,000 crore and should be able to reach a profit of Rs 450 crore in this year. This is the first time that NAFED has posted such high profits. However, the managing director of the company, Sanjeev Kumar Chadha, understands that the company cannot remain dependent only on procurement and thus, has begun to diversify its revenue channels into retail, bio-CNG and is also exporting and importing agri products on behalf of the government.

iD Fresh, takes the organic leap

India’s largest fresh food brand is all set to conquer new frontiers. After over a decade of successfully providing nutritious South Indian breakfasts to millions of people, iD Fresh announced today its next big disruption in the food space.
iD has entered into the fast-evolving organic food market, with a sharp focus on accessibility and affordability, that aims to address the modern day challenges of food sustainability in India.
The phase-wise transition of iD Fresh products into iD Organic kick-started this month, with their flagship offerings – Idly and Dosa batter, Wheat and Oats Dosa batter, Rice Rava Idlybatter, Ragi Idly & Dosa batter, Malabar Parota, and Wheat Parota – in the Bengaluru market. Over the course of the year, other iD Fresh products, such as Natural Paneer, Filter Coffee Decoction, Wheat Chapati, and the globally-acclaimed Vada batter, will join the organic group.

Simple ideas that can help farmers save water in summer

Although it is only March, parts of the country are already beginning to experience rising temperature and heat wave conditions.

This is enormously worrisome because summer is right at our doorstep, as is the real fear of water shortage.

In recent years, cases of extreme water shortage and even droughts have been on the rise, and sadly, farmers are always the worst hit.

In fact, crop failure due to drought has claimed the lives of more farmers, than any other cause, including incessant rainfall and chemical overdose.

Undoubtedly, the optimal management of water resources which will not only conserve water but also help farmers wade through unpredictable situations, are the need of the hour.

Grows 200 native veggies in 2 acres

Sangita’s father was one among the million who fled their homes during partition.

“It wasn’t until class eight that he got his first pair of shoes. He walked barefoot to school, leaping from shadow to shadow to prevent his feet from burning in the scorching sun. Even when he retired, he would joke that he preferred walking without shoes,” Sangita recalls in an interview with The Better India.

His story mirrors the lives of those that Sangita’s organisation, Annadana, sets out to help.

Parmanand Sharma, served in the Military Dairy farm during the Second World War and took an early retirement. From his meagre savings and help from family, he bought a piece of land on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

Once covered in rocks, shrubs and infested by snakes, this land has now become a green oasis. Spread over five acres, it works as the Annadana Agro-Ecology Knowledge Farm, thanks to the team of empowered farmers that his daughter, Sangita, leads.

Essential to manage crop residue: Experts

Samrala, An agricultural awareness camp was organised at Salana Bet village to promote in-situ crop residue management by the Department of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Machhiwara Sahib.

The event was held under supervision of Block Agriculture Officer Dr Manjit Singh.

Agriculture Development Officer Dr Gagandeep Singh gave thorough information regarding paddy straw management and importance of soil testing. He encouraged agriculturits to create farmer groups to obtain higher percentage of subsidy on machines.

Add cows, subtract chemicals: Organic farming a plus for climate-hit Indian farmers

As climate change brought less predictable weather, farmers Deepankar Mandal and Sanjib Mandal used to struggle with growing uncertainty about whether they would get a crop each season.

“Rains have become erratic, insufficient or wrongly timed,” said Deepankar. “The crops failed, the water table got lower each year (and) there were newer pests attacking our paddy and vegetables.”

This Woman Farmer Is Leading The Way For Marginal Farmers

On World Water Day, it is worth sharing the story of Mangala Maruti Waghmare, who is technically a marginal farmer (practicing agriculture in less than 5 acres) in possession of only half an acre land in Latur district. But with as little land as it is, she has been able to earn enough to support her son’s B Tech education, with a family of six members to manage.

What Waghmare has been able to achieve, is an unbelievable feat in itself and here’s why.

In India, out of 121 million agricultural holdings, 99 million are with small and marginal farmers, with a land share of just 44% and a farmer population share of 87%.

More than 72% of farmers who commit suicide have less than two hectares of land, latest data on farmer suicides compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show. Of the total 16,606 suicides, 87 per cent were found to be on account of debt and 76 per cent by small farmers with landholdings less than 5 acres.

So, how did Mangala buck this trend and how has she inspired other minimal farmers to do so too?

KAU to form department for organic farming

The annual meeting of Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) General Council has approved vote on account of ₹206.68 crore for the first quarter of 2019-20.

Vice Chancellor R. Chandra Babu, who chaired the meeting, said that an abstract of the budget estimate and vote on account were presented in the background of the model code of conduct being in force ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. A detailed budget will be presented later, he said

The Vice Chancellor also said that the university would form a separate department for organic farming in line with an Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) decision. This would augment studies and research in organic farming, which was a thrust area in the State farming policy.

Grandson inspires granpa to grow organic veggies

Twenty-five years ago, Dr Ravindra Kulkarni and his wife decided to move to India after spending more than 22 years together in the US. Dr Kulkarni, who is now 71, had moved to the Big Apple to complete his education from Columbia University.

His late mother’s dying wish also influenced this decision.

The couple eventually settled down in the Baner suburb of Pune and set up four different manufacturing businesses.

While their children have carried forward the work, Dr Kulkarni, at 71, has found a new hobby, one that was inspired by his grandson, Ayan.

Installs biogas plant in balcony, slashes LPG bill by half!

Able to serve a family for four, the entire portable structure cost less than Rs 10,000 and took a few hours to assemble. No wonder Gaurav Anand  is the talk of his neighbourhood now!

Based in Jamshedpur, this executive, Gaurav Anand, has led the movement by becoming the first man in the steel city to build a biogas plant small enough to fit into his apartment’s balcony!

Not only has it slashed his monthly expenditure on LPG, but has also rewarded him with rich slurry compost that makes his garden bloom.

From the Northeast, on a spices trail

The Northeast of India, once famed for its big cardamom, ginger and turmeric, is fast spreading its wings with black pepper beginning to take deep roots in places such as Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur. The yields are good and the farmers are excited about the prospects, says Akali Sema, professor of horticulture at the Nagaland University’s Medziphema campus.

She was in Kerala leading a group of 16 farmers from the Northeast visiting plantations, meeting local farmers and getting first-hand knowledge of what is happening in Kerala on the spices front. The programme was organised under the aegis of All India Spices Exporters’ Forum.

Kerala’s only vegetable-sufficient panchayat, Kanjikuzhi

The tiny village of Kanjikuzhi in Alappuzha district of Kerala has a very peculiar topography. Known to be one of the first villages to grow organic produce, it should come as a surprise to many to learn the nature of its soil is like sand—extremely dry and unfit for farming.

But if you visit this village today, every single one of 8,600 families in Kanjikuzhi grow their own vegetables and even sell the surplus to nearby cities like Kochi, Kottayam and Alappuzha. Quite a paradox, isn’t it?

By embracing organic farming, Kanjikuzhi overcame its geographical deficits and the story of how they did it, is quite interesting.

Farmers could solve India’s unemployment crisis

Unemployment is going to be a central issue in the Lok Sabha elections, whether Narendra Modi and the BJP like it or not.

No matter how much the government and today’s media try to keep public attention focused on Pakistan, the fact is that unemployment in India has touched a 45-year high. Plastering the prime minister’s photos all over the country is not going to solve that. Whichever government comes to power next will have to find an innovative and lasting solution to the crisis.