Saturday, December 12, 2009

SWANIRVAR-20th Annual Report (2008 – 2009)

Work in 105 villages of 28 GPs in 7 blocks with ~ 10,000 farmers
Continuing Work : ( i) Integrated Pest management in rice (ii) Poyra ( relay ) cropping (iii) Intensive home garden (iv) Organic and Bio soil nutrients (v) Land shaping (vi) Trials with new varieties and indigenous rice (vii) Mulch Potato (viii) Consumer Awareness on safe food: (ix) Promoting herbals (x) Non-chemical pest & disease control (xi) SRI method of rice cultivation (xii) Growing vegetables in sacks and buckets where appropriate (xiii) Expanding farmer’s seed network (xiv) Village grain banks
Farmer’s Conference : After several years gap we held 2 farmer’s conferences in 2 blocks with 400 farmers from 22 villages attending . The highlight was the experience narrated by some of our totally committed organic farmers to whom we had provided some initial inputs 4-5 years back. From reports that we got , many farmers were enthused enough to start trying some of the ideas they had heard .
Orientation for the Leaders of Farmer’s Groups : We now have many farmers groups . But quite a few of them are unstable and go through various ups and down. For the first time this year we held 7 orientation meetings for 100 leaders of these groups on some of the nuts and bolts of running a group. New groups are also being formed
Area Resource & Training Centres (ARTC) : In the last 5 years we had failed to establish this concept floated by DRCSC of creating farmer managed and owned centres. This year we were able to form 3 and they have just started functioning. We will know the result only after another 2 years.
Sale of vermicompost by farmers: Out of the farmers who had been making vermi-compost for own use after getting trained by us , some of the leading one this year started selling it to others and have earned a decent amount of money .
Amrita-pani becoming popular : A simple liquid concoction made from cow urine which we learnt from Maharashtra has become extremely popular as it is very easy to make and has proved to be quite effective in many cases.
Totally organic : In our triple cropping , highly chemical intensive, very low land holding district, we had not been able to get a substantial group of farmers to agree to make their lands totally organic. But finally we seem to be getting some success where 60 farmers have agreed to make their 80 bighas (~27 acres ) of land totally organic. We will have to nurture them for several years.
Fish in Tubewell water : 12 women started the trial this year of digging a 4’X6’ pit where the water of their home tubewell accumulates and are farming local catfish there. The sides of the pit are lined with various herbs like Helencha, Thankuni, Kulekhara , Brahmi etc

Annual reports for the previous years can be seen in

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Use of bucket in Home Kitchen Garden:

Our staff, Mina and Anjana worked with the women farmers groups. Their main responsibility was to train the housewives on making vegetable gardens adjacent to their house. They trained the women groups on – mixed farming, vegetable rotation system, different types of compost making, preparation of bio-pest controllers, etc. The main aim of this training was to ensure the basic nutrition of poor families and the concept was zero waste. Converting the peels of the vegetable and other house hold waste into manures and making vegetables with these manures, so that the family members could get organic, home made fresh vegetable with minimum efforts.

In the month of April, 09, they went for a training programme in Vaduria village of Swarupnagar Block. There was a training on kitchen garden making with the housewives from BPL (below poverty line) families. One of the trainees, Shyamali Mondal asked Mina that she was very much interested in making such kitchen garden but she had no land adjacent to her home.

Hearing this, Mina advised her to use their tiles roof as trellis for pumpkin and bottle gourd. She(Mina) told her to collect two plastic buckets and filled it with sand clay and vermicompost in 1:3 ratio and also told her to make a small orifice at the bottom so that the excess water could passed through it. After the filling of the buckets she was asked to put one sapling of pumpkin in a pot and one sapling of bottle gourd to another. Shyamali also put some bamboo sticks adjacent to the buckets so that the saplings could climb these and could reach to the tiles roof easily.

From, July, 09, Shyamoli got a number of pumpkins and bottle gourds on her tiled roof. So far she had got 25 bottle gourds and 11 pumpkins. She and her family members were very happy with it. Her detailed income –expenditure reports were given below.
Unused Bucket                          8.00
Vermicompost                          10.00
Saplings                                      1.00
T O T A L                                 19.00
ITEM                   WT(Kg)         UNIT RATE        PRICE
Bottle gourd           100                    6.00                600.00
Bottle gourd leaf       20                    4.00                  80.00
Pumpkin                   33                  10.00                330.00
Pumpkin leaf             12                    4.00                  48.00
T O T A L                                                            1058.00
NET PROFIT: Rs. 1039.00 (Rupees one thousand thirty nine only)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Successful livelihood regeneration programme in Hingalganj

       After the initial relief operation in Hingalganj, our main focus was to regenerate livelihood regeneration in Hingalganj. As most of the farm yards were under the saline water and made it unsuitable for farming. 20yrs ago farmers had many saline tolerant country paddy like Nonasree, Talmugur, Ashfal etc. But after AILA, we found that farmers had no such seeds left. We tried to restart the farming of such paddy varieties. As the entire sundarban areas are mono cropped so our main focus was paddy so that the poor farmers could get their rice throughout the year. Our technical partner, DRCSC send some seeds of Talmugur paddy for the Aila affected areas. We distributed these to the farmers and also collected some amount of Nonasree Paddy seeds for them.

      We also got some training on techniques and concepts on cultivation in the saline land from Ardhendhu Chatterjee of DRCSC. We asked the farmers to make canals in the boundaries so that the rain water could be deposited there. During the monsoon, the washed rain water could also be deposited there. The farmers followed our suggestion. We also requested them not use any kind of inorganic fertilizers in soil. They used only vermi-compost in their field. They used only bio-pest controllers. Finally they have achieved a successful gain from their field. In Hingalganj Block, only our farmers were able to produce paddy in their field.

        Local Agriculture Development Officer (ADO) had visited their field and had met our staff, Nishambhu Sarkar. The ADO office had requested Swanirvar to campaign for SRI paddy farming in Hingalganj. Below there are pictures of our farmers, Swapan Roy and Debdas Baulia who had successfully produced Nonasree and Talmugur in their field.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dying to be green? Now, try ‘bio-cremation’

REUTERS 3 December 2009, 12:24am IST

VANCOUVER (BRITISH COLUMBIA): Worried you haven’t been green enough in life? Don’t let death come in the way of a more eco-friendly you.

From coffins made of recycled cardboard to saying no to embalming chemicals that seep into the soil, people are increasingly searching for ways to make their final resting place a more environmentally-friendly one.

Now cremation, the choice today of a third of Americans and more than half of Canadians, is getting a green make-over. A standard cremation spews into the air about 400 kilograms of carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming — along with other pollutants like dioxins and mercury vapor if the deceased had silver tooth fillings.

Enter alkaline hydrolysis, a chemical body-disposal process its proponents call “bio-cremation” and say uses one-tenth the natural gas of fire-based cremation and one-third the electricity.

C0² emissions are cut by almost 90% and no mercury escapes as fillings and other metal objects, such as hip or knee replacements, can be recovered intact and recycled.

Matthews International Corp, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based company that makes caskets and other funeral products is planning the world’s first commercial launch of human alkaline hydrolysis in January at a funeral home in St Petersburg, Florida.

In alkaline hydrolysis the body is submerged in water in a stainless steel chamber. Heat, pressure and potassium hydroxide, chemicals used to make soap and bleach, are added to dissolve the tissue. Two hours later all that’s left is some bone residue and a syrupy brown liquid that is flushed down the drain. The bones can be crushed and returned to the family as with cremation.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rural Ambulance service inauguration in Hingalganj:

Professional Institute for Development and Socio Environmental Management – PRISM, a non-governmental, non-profit organization, is set up to develop and implement solutions that balance the need for food, shelter, income and environmental quality prescribed for all.

PRISM has developed a rural ambulance, which is an improvised version of the common rickshaw van, well designed to serve the purpose of an ambulance in a much more effective way. After its introduction villagers have started getting an Ambulance Plus service - It has been used for 'early warning', 'rescue' and 'relief' before and during the floods in the Gaighata and Swarupnagar Blocks of North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal since 2004.
(Details of their activities are available in

SWANIRVAR and PRISM worked together in relief and rehabilitation works in Hingalganj block. One day our staff, Nilangshu and Nishambhu requested PRISM’s Technical Director, Dr. Aniruddha Dey to visit one of our ARTC ( Agri-school) in Hingalganj and meet our sustainable farmers. During his meeting with the farmers he expressed his willingness to give one such Rural Ambulance to them. ARTC farmers gladly accepted his proposals and they sent a request proposal to PRISM. Finally it was decided that the ambulance would be handed over on 28th November, 2009.

Hingalgnaj was famous for its rich cultural heritage of folk(vatiali songs) and drama. One of the ATRC member, Basudeb Das was a famous Jatra( folk drama) actor wrote a drama and requested us for some financial help so that they ARTC farmers can perform that on the same venue.

On 28th November,09 three SWANIRVAR staff and three PRISM officials and a Government Medical Officer, Dr. Supti Biswas went to Hingalganj and was splendid after seeing that the entire Police ground was decorated by the colorful ribbons and papers. A small stage was made in the corners of the field for the drama and ambulance opening. The function was started at 6.00p.m. The key of the ambulance was handed over by Dr. Biswas to the president of the ARTC. More than 2 thousand villagers expressed their cheers in that moment and after that a drama was performed by the local farmers.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rise in sea level may hit Kolkata

Days before the Copenhagen conference on climate change kicks off, a major study by a group of 100 international scientists has said that sea levels are likely to rise by as much as 1.4 metres by the end of this century.
That’s twice as much as predicted in IPCC’s fourth assessment report in 2007.
The study also enhances the threat to the Indian coast — and cities like Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.
The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report is the first comprehensive review of the impact of global warming on Antarctica. The IPCC report had projected that sea levels could rise 18-59 cm by 2099.
Subsequent studies of glacial melts in Greenland and Antarctica had raised fears that the rise could be higher.
TNN 2 December 2009

Sundarbans water warming eight times faster than global average

NEW DELHI: In the Sundarbans, surface water temperature has been rising at the rate of 0.5 degree Celsius per decade over the past three decades, eight times the rate of global warming, says a new study.

That makes the Sundarbans one of the worst climate change hotspots on the globe.

The study, carried out over 27 years from 1980 by scientists from India and the US, found a change of 1.5 degrees Celsius, a clear challenge to the survival of flora and fauna in the world's largest mangrove forest.

A Unesco World Heritage site, the Sundarbans covers 9,630 sq km in India and Bangladesh. It is home to a number of endangered species.
"Surface water temperature in the deltaic complex of the Indian Sundarbans experienced a gradual increase of 0.5 degree Celsius per decade in last three decades. This rate is much higher than the global warming rate of 0.06 degree Celsius per decade and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)-documented rate of 0.2 degree Celsius per decade in the Indian Ocean during 1970-99," Abhijit Mitra, professor in the Department of Marine Sciences, Calcutta University, told IANS.

The study published in the latest issue of scientific journal Current Science found that faster melting of Himalayan glaciers have decreased the salinity at the western end of the Indian Sundarbans while salinity has increased on the eastern end due to clogging of connections of the estuaries with fresh water on account of heavy siltation and solid waste disposal from Kolkata.

The scientists also studied variations in dissolved oxygen, pH level (a measure of acidity), transparency and water quality to know the impact of global warming on the ecosystem.

"The surface water pH over the past 30 years has reduced in the region, thus increasing acidification. The variations in salinity and increased temperature could be reasons for observed variation in pH and dissolved oxygen," said Mitra.
The concentration of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the western sector of the Sundarbans showed an increasing trend in contrast to the eastern part where it is decreasing significantly.
"Depletion in dissolved oxygen can cause major shifts in the ecological habitation in the region. Rising temperature could also be one of the reasons for decreasing dissolved oxygen in the Sundarbans," he said.
Global warming accelerates the process of erosion in coastal and estuarine zones either through increased summer flow from the glaciers or by increased tidal amplitude due to sea level rise.

Erosion and sedimentation processes, along with subsequent churning action, increase the saturation of suspended solids, thus decreasing the transparency.
"The reduced transparency affects the growth and survival of phytoplankton, the small microscopic plants in the oceans that produce three-fourths of the earth's oxygen supply. Damage to this community may adversely affect the food chain in this mangrove-dominated deltaic complex, which is the nursery and breeding ground of 150-250 species of fish and other organisms," said Mitra.
The study concluded that although the observed changes could result from a combination of climate change and human interventions and related phenomena, the changes are real and their impact will be felt in the ecosystem in the coming years.
Times of India, 1 December 2009