Khet aur Khaliyan
Majority of the state’s population is dependent on agriculture as the main source of livelihood. In the tribal and rural areas where Shikhar Yuva Manch works, it is almost 100 per cent dependency.
As the farm size got smaller and smaller, and absolute number of people dependent on agriculture increased, the modern techniques and methodologies became imminent. Though the markets were flooded with hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and machinery (like tractors, weeders, harvesters) the knowledge transfer for change in practices was long overdue. In the absence of the knowledge transfer combined with proliferation of spurious fertilizers, pesticides, the yield of rice (which is the main crop of the region) started dwindling. Higher dosages of chemical fertilizers also warranted dedicated protective irrigation during the dry spells, and for the second crop. As the cost of sowing, and operations increased, the farmers were getting distressed. Shikhar Yuva Manch, based on the experiential knowledge introduced a series of connected
interventions to address the issue.
System of Rice Intensification (SRI): This is new technology first used in Madagascar (and alternatively known as Madagascar methodology) is very useful on three counts:
- Cost of seeds: the quantity of seeds needed per acre is three-four times less than the normal practices;
- Mechanical Weeding: It allows for use of a weeder to mow down the competing weeds, thereby reducing the cost of fertilizers and helping the sapling to get more nourishment, and give better yield;
- Increase in Yield: The average increase in yield is about 4-5 quintals per acre.
Shikhar Yuva Manch first introduced the SRI technique during Bitkuli where the farmers were trained by Mr Jacob Nellinathan from JSS Ganiyari who is known alternative agriculture practices expert in Central India. The farmers also went to Kondhra, Dabhra, and Akaltari villages to observe first hand, and interact with the farmers practising Akshay Krishi Model. Since then, we have been helping farmers in adapting this new approach and technique. In our ongoing and recent endeavour with HDFC PARIVARTAN (as resource partner), we have extensively used SRI in three blocks with good results.
Use of Organic / Bio-fertilisers
In Bitkuli we introduced a combination of technologies to sustain the soil, retention of moisture, and micro-nourishment of the crops. During that time Shikhar Yuva Manch was fortunate to have Jacob Nellinathan as the resource person, and he helped and handheld a few of our workers. One such worker is Ayodhya Prasad Jaiswal, who used these techniques in his own farmland with good results. In the initial phase our workers were trained (along with farmers from Bitkuli). In the subsequent phase we trained the farmers, and helped them grow as resource persons. One such young farmer is Mukesh Patley from Bharwaguda:
The Story of Mukesh Patley from Bharwaguda
Mukesh from Bharwaguda is a young man. He has completed 12th Science in Agriculture. He took over the farming operations from his father, and was keen to apply the knowledge he had gained through the Agriculture course. He came to know about the farmers’ training on SRI and other techniques to be organised under Holistic Rural Development Project of Shikhar Yuva Manch with HDFC PARIVARTAN support. He enrolled in the workshop and followed the instruction to the tee right from seed selection to treatment, and use of bio-fertilizers. First, the process of separating good seeds from bad by using salt
water technique; he rejected the bad seeds which floated in the salt water. Then the treatment: he applied a mixture 1 kg of cattle dung, 1 litre of cattle urine, and 100 gm of lime to 1 kg of selected seeds. This helped the seeds to spout easy and fast. He then raised a nursery bed and transplanted the 12 days old seedlings into the prepared patch of land in a row of 1 feet by 1 feet and one seedling at one place (instead of the traditional practice of 8-10 seedlings at one place). This allowed him to use the rotary hoe for weeding, and also to aerate the soil.
During the first year, Mukesh did not used all his land for experimenting with SRI technique and it was a prudent decision. So instead of using all 4 acres for this new methodology, he bifurcated the land into 1.1 acre for SRI and rest for traditional farming. Where he used 12 kg of seeds per acre for traditional farming, he used 2 kg of treated seeds per acre in SRI. Apart from saving 10 kg of seeds (approximately Rs3000 per acre) he also used organic manure instead of chemical fertilisers for the SRI land. He saved another Rs4000 per acre by using organic manure.
As he used rotary hoe for the weeding, the labour cost for weeding also came down and he saved another Rs1000 per acre approximately on weeding. The yield too was good compared to the traditional practice farm by 2 quintals per acre.
He says: “I saved around Rs8000 per acre while got two quintal extra. So net-net income grew by approximately Rs14000 per acre by switching over to the SRI practice. I intend to now turn the whole farmland into SRI based technology.”
Mukesh is now a resource person for other farmers in the area. He is enthusiastic about the change process, and wants to help the other farmers.
That is Mukesh’s story of not only being a practitioner but a resource farmer. In 39 villages from 25 Panchayats from three blocks viz. Lohara Kabirdham district), Mungeli (Mungeli district), and Kartala (Korba district) Shikhar Yuva Manch is working with 8051 farmers on the adaption of the new technology. It is an ongoing process till date following is the picture of organic manure using farmers:
Household bio-mass recycling is a new practice that Shikhar Yuva Manch started with initial 68 households which treated their 43 acres. This is an innovative activity.
For organic manure, special earthworm composing pits like NADEP has been constructed and the farmers are finding it easy to produce and use the manure. It also saves cost on buying of chemical fertilizers (savings of 272 farmers are estimated at Rs2176000, the exact details will be computed by the end of the 18-19 fiscal). Apart from the use of organic manure in their own fields, 87 farmers sold a part of their organic manure in the open market.
Horticulture: moving from mono crop dependency (annual crops to perennial) The mixed and perennial cropping is an insurance from crop failure, diversity in food, and one of the best home grown solution to malnutrition. It also helps in soil erosion, helps to control winds that allow the bees and other farmer-friendly organisms to grow, and help in pollination. It is
beginning, so far:
Soil and Water conservation in the agriculture fields is a good technique to stem the flow of good soil washed down by the rains, maintain micro-nutrients in the field, and also retain moisture for longer period. In the tribal areas, the slope of the fields impacts the crop yields, and it becomes important that the farm bunds are raised at appropriate levels. So far Shikhar Yuva Manch as helped 212 farmers to design the fields and erect farm bunds.
The role of VDC in farm bund technology transfer is very important. All the decisions are taken collectively, and the farmer has to contribute twenty percent of the cost.
Shikhar Yuva Manch believes in “local solutions to local problems”, and popularized the backyard garden to increase the nutrient rich food security.
It helped and so far:
- 563 families have started backyard garden
- Focus is on identifying and propagating locally available vegetable seeds;
- The plot is designed in such a way that the backyard garden satisfies the vegetable needs of the family for entire year.
Farmers as Resource Farmers:
Shikhar Yuva Manch believes in knowledge transfer and developing the local communities’ capacities to help each other. Mutual cooperation and collective action, which is the essence of tribal life, is the motto.
Achievements of 2017-18
Solar Irrigation Pump
Promotion of Bio Fertilizers