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FARMER

The farmer is the most selfless friend of the mankind.The female and male farmers feed the whole population of the world together.They also manage livestock,fisheries and forests.But they are seldom given honor they deserve.Let's adore them.

Location: Global
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Latest Activity: Sep 2, 2016

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AROMATIC RICE 5 Replies

Started by DR. SYED MD. ZAINUL ABEDIN. Last reply by DR. SYED MD. ZAINUL ABEDIN Mar 14, 2014.

PESTICIDE FREE FARMING

Started by DR. SYED MD. ZAINUL ABEDIN Jul 27, 2009.

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Comment by Rina Mukherji on November 22, 2011 at 14:58

This is an article I wrote some years ago. Since the discussion here is currently focussed on organic farming, I felt the group might be interested in reading this....

 

 

West Bengal village pledges allegiance to organic farming

By Rina Mukherji

Bigha, a small village in West Bengal, has become the first village in the state to recognise the benefits of organic farming and work towards producing its first ever pesticide-free kharif crop

Bigha, a tiny village in Monteswar block, Bardhaman district, is the first in West Bengal to have achieved a pesticide-free aman (kharif) crop. The village is now targeting a pesticide-free boro (rabi) harvest as well.

Credit for this feat goes to Vikramshila, a non-government organisation working towards community development in the village, and its technical collaborator the Development Research Communication and Services Centre (DRCSC), concedes Monteswar block agricultural development officer Nilay Kar.

Although a few individual farmers have implemented organic farming techniques and achieved pesticide-free crops in various parts of the state, this is the first time an entire village, spread over 20,000 cottahs and housing 2,100 people, has worked as a team to achieve this goal.

The West Bengal government has, in fact, been working towards an Integrated Pest Management Programme in its villages for some time. “But our workshops only initiate it. It is only when a grassroots organisation like Vikramshila follows it up on a day-to-day basis that this can be achieved,” says Kar.

A carryover from the Green Revolution that ushered in hybrid high-yielding varieties, chemical fertilisers work in smaller quantities but must be activated with huge amounts of water. More significantly, they are expensive and deplete the soil of natural nutrients even as they put a strain on water resources.

For instance, for every cottah, a Bigha farmer had to use 2.5 kg of diammonium phosphate at the time of ploughing his field; he followed this up with 1.5 kg of urea, 20 days after the shoots emerged. Thus, in a three-month season, every cottah of land received four kilos of chemical input.

Now, every 20 cottahs of land requires six carts of organic manure. As local resident and Vikramshila coordinator Arun Sain points out: “It works out much cheaper since all domestic and farm garbage can be used to make liquid manure.” Additionally, the composition of the organic manure is such that there is no need to use pesticides.

The organic liquid manure, devised by the DRCSC, is composed of animal manure and local weeds in equal proportion. It is filled into a jute bag and fermented in an earthen pot containing 20 litres of water. The mixture thus formed is ready for application within two to three months.

There are some rules that need to be followed if chemicals have to be kept out of the soil.

According to ecological farming expert and DRCSC executive-director Ardhendu Shekhar Chatterjee: “Crops must be grown in keeping with the season. Unseasonal production demands chemical protection, since it is not the ideal time to grow a crop. Besides, for the right mix of crops pesticides can be done away with altogether. Linear production of a single variety, that has become the norm, deprives crops of mutual benefit and necessitates the use of pesticides.”

Chatterjee and his team of soil and agricultural scientists advocate mixed cropping of a single family, with judicious use of farmland to plant light-demanding and shade herbs. Farms are designed for optimum drainage.

Farmers in Bigha were taught to raise their beds four to six inches in height, with a breadth of four to four-and-a-half inches to match, so that canals could run in between, for maximum drainage. They were encouraged to mix as many crops as they could, in keeping with the season. As a rule, only local varieties were planted with herbs like coriander (dhania) and fenugreek (methi) lining vegetable patches. Every farm sported eight to ten crop varieties of the same family, encouraging pollination and mutually benefiting each crop.

Mulching of the soil between crops was emphasised, to discourage the growth of weeds. The soil was covered with straw and dry leaves to insulate it from light and heat. This not only helped conserve water, by slowing evaporation, it also encouraged earthworms and micro-organisms to move up to the surface and work on improving the soil. Neem seed kernels, sprayed at regular intervals, served to keep pests away.

The result was better yields and tastier crops and vegetables as “the juices are concentrated and do not undergo dilution due to inundation with excess water, as happens when chemical fertilizers are used,” says Chatterjee.

Significantly, several local varieties that had almost disappeared since the introduction of hybrids have been rediscovered.

Although the use of chemical fertilisers has significantly decreased it has not ceased altogether, as local shopkeeper Nemai (black) Roy tells me. “Instead of the 400-500 bags of chemical fertiliser I would sell in the past, only 100 bags are sold per day now. Convincing people of the benefits of organic farming is difficult. But there is a growing demand in organic food for fish. Especially since fish yields have increased dramatically.”

The reason for this is not far to seek. Chemical fertilisers do not have active nitrogen. The residual carriers used, many of them carcinogenic, remain as residue in the soil. It takes years for these to be removed, hence the use of chemical fertilisers can only gradually be brought down.

Where soil quality is concerned, moving over to organic farming means a slow rejuvenation of the soil. The nitrogen in chemical fertilisers is never totally absorbed in the soil. Excess nitrates leach down from the farms into the water, especially in states like West Bengal that experience heavy rainfall. Chemicals kill not just harmful but also benign pests, causing a drop in soil quality. Fish living in shallow waters, such as koi and magur, feed on plankton and micro-organisms. When chemical leaching takes a toll on these micro-organisms we see a drop in the fish population. Only larger deep-water vegetarian fish like rohu, carp and myrgal that thrive on high oxygen levels are able to survive.

The switch to organic farming is slowly correcting these imbalances and improving the foodchain. Although Bigha still has a long way to go before it does away with chemical fertilisers altogether, it’s made a small but significant start.

InfoChange News & Features, February 2005

Comment by Rina Mukherji on November 22, 2011 at 14:49

Pesticide free organic farming can beat the shortage of groundwater that climate change is causing us. It can also help us tide over the food shortage, since it can bring back the bounty of shallow water fish. This is what I discovered when looking into the changes organic farming has brought in villages in the interiors of our province.

 

Comment by DR. SYED MD. ZAINUL ABEDIN on July 2, 2009 at 1:39
Thank you Zakia for the encouraging comment.Could you please a discussion regarding success story of farmer in your country?You can emphasize on the application of science and technology by the farmers.You may kindly add photograph on farming in your region too.
Let us find some way to show respect to the farmers.
Best Regards,
Zainul
Comment by Zakia Haddouch on July 1, 2009 at 19:35
Farming is great!
 

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