Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Women are championing the fight against climate change

To fight the extreme climate change affecting India, including rising temperatures and irregular rains, these women have been ideating and implementing different strategies across the country.

According to the Economic Survey 2018-19, farm revenues have declined for a number of crops despite increasing production, and market prices falling below the Minimum Support Price (MSP). It also states that the projected long-term weather patterns indicate a reduction in annual agricultural incomes between 15 and 18 percent on average, and up to 20 and 25 percent for non-irrigated areas.

Determined to solve these issues, farmers and entrepreneurs in this sector have been improving their farming methods, making their crops more adaptable to the changing climate.

Making woman the nutrition champion in rural homes through NRLM

Making woman the champion fighter against malnutrition in her home and in society,  and recognising the key role that enhanced livelihood plays in providing nutrition, millions of women across rural India have been made part of Self Help Groups and are involved in varied activities like organic farming, or as Mahila Kisans, Pashu Sakhis – thanks to the Rural Development Ministry’s Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM).

DAY-NRLM seeks to reach out to rural poor households and organise one woman member from each household into women Self Help Groups and federations at the village level and above.

Indian Superhero who is changing the lives of farmers

Twenty-eight-year-old Divya Shetty is Co-founder of Indian Superheroes, which works towards eliminating middlemen, and ensuring a fair price to farmers. The company also manufactures sustainable stationery out of recycled paper that can be grown into plants after use.

Farmer in the city

The early morning sun lights up several shades of green at SLV Krishivihaar, BK Bhavya’s expansive organic farm. She is caressing the tender stalks, as if waking them up gently. Shaking off the morning dew from a bunch of freshly-plucked leaves, Bhavya holds out the four kinds of greens that she grows in 12 huge patches in her two-acre field at Nettigere, off Kanakapura Main Road.

Changing trends in the Indian organic food industry

Ceaseless utilization of synthetic concoctions and composts, bringing about low-quality nourishment with an unsafe effect on human wellbeing, has constrained individuals to locate an elective arrangement, which is healthy and natural. In a previous couple of years, organic products have increased huge ubiquity as the millennial age is progressively getting to be mindful of the geniuses appended to being healthy. The dread of capitulating to sicknesses has enormously driven a union where individuals have begun changing to more beneficial nourishment choices.

Notwithstanding the medical advantages, natural organic products is delivered by the technique of organic farming which is sustainable for the environment without any compromise in the product quality. The conventional methods of farming usually affect the surroundings with the use of synthetic chemicals. The fact that organic farming methods abandon the use of synthetic chemicals makes this practice environment-friendly.

Mysuru man with lung ailment grows 20+ veggies in award-winning garden!

A few years ago, when Mysuru-based Professor (retd) Rudraradhya had trouble breathing, he was rushed to the hospital.

Tests revealed a lung disorder, and the doctors told him that he would have to rely on using two oxygen cylinders every day. He was also advised to not exert himself or step out of the comfort of his home and was bed-ridden for close to three months.

The man had retired after an illustrious career as a professor from the University of Agricultural Sciences, 14 years ago. The one-acre integrated farming model that he propagated and demonstrated at the Agricultural Research Station of Bavikere (Tarikere) in Shimoga district of Karnataka, helped hundreds of small and marginal farming become self-sufficient and make farming sustainable and profitable even with a small landholding.

How could he be confined to a bed and be forced to live life in a manner he did not choose?

“This was when I took up terrace gardening,” he recalls in an interview with The Better India.

Ex-investment banker starts farm to grow residue-free fruits, now earns lakhs from exports!

It is always fascinating and in some ways motivating when you see real life people give up a lifestyle that most people aspire for, in exchange for the hard yards of farming. Natura Farms, the brainchild of 30-year-old Navdeep Golecha, is an innovative farm with 12,500 Pomegranate, 7500 Papaya and 200 Lemon trees.Started in 2015, the farm’s goal was to grow pesticide-free fruits which it continues to uphold. Navdeep’s story of transition from working in a glass cubicle in the UK as an investment banker, to the heat and dust of his farmland in India needs to be heard.

In this exclusive interview with The Better India (TBI), Navdeep speaks about his early years, his time as a student in UK, his return to India, shift from the family business to horticulture, and the motivation behind it all.

Bihar IITian builds one-stop shop that helps 65,000+ farmers!

Born into a family of farmers in Chhapra district, Bihar, Shashank Kumar, didn’t know if he would ever come back home. Studying in a local school until Class 3, he was eventually compelled to leave the state for better academic and professional opportunities.

Today, the agritech startup he founded, DeHaat, is serving over 65,000 farmers in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Odisha. It helps them connect with agricultural input suppliers and buyers for their produce.

Where bees help farmers grow

One of biggest village in a cluster of 49 and right at the edge of northwest Delhi bordering Haryana, Qutubgarh, according to its residents, has changed for the better since it has witnessed the “honey revolution”.

At 82, Umed Singh Rana has aced the art of giving interviews to news channels and researchers who have been visiting his farm in north-west Delhi’s Qutubgarh village since November 2018. Rana’s was among 10 families who were given 100 bee rearing boxes by Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi.

One of biggest village in a cluster of 49 and right at the edge of northwest Delhi bordering Haryana, Qutubgarh, according to its residents, has changed for the better since it has witnessed the “honey revolution”.

Rattled by farmer suicides & health issues, Telangana village turns 250 acres organic

Enabavi became one of the first villages in Telangana, apart from Punukula in the Khammam district, to turn fully organic, entirely giving up the use of chemical pesticides, fertilisers, and genetically modified crops.

Up until two decades ago, Telangana (then a part of undivided Andhra Pradesh) was a hotbed for farmer suicides. Chemical farming, one of the perils of the Green Revolution, was rampant at the time.

While Guntur ranked first in the unrestrained use of pesticides, Warangal ranked second. This excessive dependence on chemicals not only increased the yearly cost of production per acre, but also resulted in crop failure due to increased pest resistance.

How Tamil Nadu’s towns are scripting the new startup story

Singara Chennai is home to several prominent entrepreneurs.

But the spirit of entrepreneurship in Tamil Nadu is not limited to the capital city alone. Interesting startups with great potential are emerging from Tier II and Tier III cities and even though they may not be garnering the media attention as their metro-city counterparts, they sure are ones to keep an eye out for.

YourStory presents some such startups from Tamil Nadu.

Organic farming ensures safer, healthier world: Expert

Organic food is not prepared using chemical fertilizers. It does not contain any traces of chemicals and thus does not affect the human body in negative ways. This apart, organic food is tastier than conventional food and they are usually directly picked from farms and are fresh, said retired Professor A Mahakud, while addressing the audience at a workshop on safe food and organic farming organised by Vision Eco-Farm and Living Farms here.

Prof Mahakud, who also practices organic farming, added that as harmful chemicals are not used in organic farming, there is minimal soil, air, and water pollution. Thus it ensures environmental safety and a safer and healthier world for future generations to live in.

Battling antibiotic resistance on Madhya Pradesh’s agenda

Following in Kerala’s footsteps, Madhya Pradesh, India’s second largest state will roll out its action plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) containment with emphasis on treatment of hospital effluents and restricting the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry.

In the central Indian state, initiatives for AMR containment, aligned with the country’s national action plan and global action plan on antimicrobial resistance, are already in action, including an Indo-Swedish collaboration on antibiotic stewardship on infection prevention and control and wastewater treatment.

Nature dictates the outcome

There is always resistance to change. Jeevaram, a farmer in Sutrapada village of Gir Somanath district, Gujarat, faced the typical dilemma of whether to go in for zero-budget organic farming or stick to using chemical fertilisers and pesticides. He was apprehensive about this new concept. Should he take the risk when the cotton crop he had grown was totally destroyed by the pink bollworm?

Jeevaram and his three younger brothers own 16 bighas of land where they grow wheat, groundnut, cotton and seasonal vegetables. When representatives of the GHCL Foundation working with farmers in the Sutrapada block approached him in 2015, he and other farmers were reluctant to go organic.

To encourage them, the Foundation offered 90 per cent subsidy on organic manure, bio pesticides and fodder, with supplementary nutrition, as well as saplings for horticulture. It also arranged training for farmers to prepare their own organic manure and bio pesticides. It took Jeevaram almost a year to make up his mind. Ultimately, he decided to go for it.

Today, his farm has become a model for others to emulate as he reaps the benefits of organic farming.

Affordable organic initiatives gain momentum in UAE

In a bid to feed the growing demand for organic produce among families in the UAE, enthusiasts are working tirelessly to establish initiatives to get their fruits and vegetables from sources other than the supermarkets.

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of consuming ethically-farmed produce, and are not depending on mainstream retailers to provide them with the same. Two independent initiatives – FarmChimp and Naturebeatz – began as small, online projects that sell only rice, wild honey, and a small bag of vegetables to a group of friends a few years ago. However, these projects have now grown into successful e-commerce SMEs driven by social media, providing to nearly 7,000 families living in the UAE.

Au natural

Chandigarh’s organic produce markets have grown into effective forums for farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and further afield

Wellness has a peculiar way of reaching out to you from the most unlikely of places. This time, it was peeking out from a confined space between upcycled cloth jewellery and studio pottery at a pop-up of women apparel and accessories.

Laid out on a table was a sample array of millet, horse gram, raw turmeric and ragi. Manning it was Ashreen Minocha, a young farmer advocating the adoption of organic produce as a step towards a healthier lifestyle. Over bite-sized pieces of bajra and carrot cake that she offered me, I learnt about her work at Kudarti, an eight-year-old venture she took over from her father a year ago.

Since November last, organic produce from her farm in Raipur Rani, availability of which is shared on a WhatsApp group, is delivered to a steadily swelling community of customers on a weekly basis. On offer are seasonal vegetables, greens, fruit, pulses and grains.

Transforming unused spaces into live food gardens, this Mumbai startup is showing the way to go organic

Food is not grown the way it used to be. Vegetables, grains, and fruits are liberally doused with chemicals and fertilizers, and consuming them has only led to an increased rate of cancer, and other deadly diseases across the world.

In India too, there has been a rising concern about the quality of food produced. And this has led to a slow but increasing demand for organic food. The organic food market in the country is estimated at Rs 1,500 crore, and is expected to double to Rs 3,000 crore in the next three years.

To address this growing concern and need to eat healthy, and help citizens consume healthy food, Linesh Narayan Pillai (46) co-founded Urban Green Fate (UGF) Farms in 2017.

Systemic transformation in agriculture must put the farmer at the centre

Arunabha Ghosh

I spent international women’s day in Mangalagiri, in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, with Usha Rani. As a single mother for 17 years, she has raised two children (now in second-year college and in high school). Three years ago, she switched to natural farming. On less than half an acre, she practises multicropping, growing maize, banana, moringa, turmeric, chilli, gourd and guava. The products fetch her a premium in Vijayawada, up to two-and-a-half times per unit compared to what she would earn if the crops had been grown with chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Her input costs have fallen by half to a quarter. Usha has also taken a loan of more than Rs 100,000 to build a store from where to sell her inoculants of natural fertilisers and pesticides. Her income (including from the shop) is nearly five times what she earned from conventional farming.

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.