Thursday, August 19, 2010

Post AILA programme in Hingalganj

        After Aila,  the farmers in Sundarban areas felt the need of country seeds. But on that time it was found that most of the saline tolerant paddy had became extinct. So far we have distributed 1090kg of saline tolerant indigenous paddy seeds amongst 250 farmer families in two villages of Jogeshganj Island under Hingalganj block. Samsernagar and Pargumti these two villages were worse affected by the super cyclone, AILA. These indigenous paddy seed distribution programmes were financially supported by our partner organization DRCSC. We distributed 10 types of country paddy seeds. We also distributed 270kg indigenous paddy  seeds amongst 60 farmer families in Hingalganj Island. Only 10 kg seeds of 10 varieties had given to Haripada Patra, one of our innovative farmers for seeds conservation.
        In June, 2010 we invited Dr. Debal Deb, an eminent ecologist and folk rice expert to visit our project areas in Hingalganj. He came and met with our farmers. He also attended two interactive sessions with the farmers. He shared his experiences with them and also gave them valuable tips of paddy cultivation in saline soil. He requested all the farmers not to opt for any hybrid and high yielding seeds for the next two years and only to cultivate country seeds in saline zones and also told us to train them on country seed conservation.
        Last year there was a flood of saline water and this year most of areas in Sundarban are now facing draught. Due to insufficient rain fail, the magnitude of salinity has been increased (due to evaporation of water from the soil and lack of washing saline water from the field) in most of the areas and affecting the paddy growth. In some cases, there was no germination in the seed bed and in most of the fields the plants are becoming brownish due to lack of water. The farmers, who tried with hybrid seeds, had failed to germinate in several attempts. We are waiting for a good rainfall.
Nilangshu, 19.08.10

Village woman selling vermicompost to the farmers

        Shampa Mondal is one of our very successful farmers in Swarupnagar block. She lives in Mallikpur village of Balti Nitya Nadakati Gram Panchayat. 4 years ago she took training on making home nutrition garden from our staff. She had a very beautiful organic vegetable garden in her home. In 2008, she also took training on making vermicompost. After taking the training she made one small vermi-pit adjacent to her house. Initially she was opposed by her husband who is a chemical farmer but she was determined in her mission. We also supported her by giving earth worms (Eisenia foetida (tiger worm or red wiggler)) at free of cost. At the end of 2008, she produced 80kg vermicompost from her pit for which she used 75kg of cow dung and 125kg of home vegetable waste, straw and banana trees, etc. Out of 80kg compost she sold 40kg to the local farmers at the rate of Rs. 4.00/kg and rest 40kg was used by her husband in their farm land.

Shampa working in her compost pit.
        Being successful, she tried to produce vermicompost on big scale. She applied for a grant from the Gram Panchayat and we helped her to make the proposal. She got the grant for buying two big cement chambers from the Panchayat in 2009. After that she is producing vermicompost on regular basis. So far she had sold her compost not only the local farmers but also sold to the local Agriculture Development Office. Her work had inspired many local women.
        In January, 2010 she was appointed as a Panchayat level trainer on vermicompost and so far had given training to more than150 women on making vermicompost at their houses. Now more than 100 BPL women of Kalshi, Mallikpur and Nabatkati villages are producing vermicompost at their homes under the guidance of Shampa.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Prakash in his shop.
           Prakash Sarkar lives in Nabatkati village under Swarupnagar Block. This area is adjacent to the Indo-Bangladesh border. In the year 1994, Mr. Sarkar started his business and at that time he was only fertilizer merchant in that locality. He termed himself as a Krishi Bandhu (a friend of the farmers). Beside the business he has a small land of 1 acre in which he mostly produced vegetables.
           He observed that the cost for the fertilizers and the pesticides were increasing day by day but the productions from the field were being remarkable reducing. In 2007, he joined in a Krishi Sammelon ( a seminar on farmers and farming policies) held at Swarupnagar. There he met many agriculture scientists and botanists and came to know about the evil effects of chemical farming. There was a brain storming discussion on farming policies and he knew that many developed countries were then restricting the indiscriminate use of pesticides in farm land. He also came to know about ecological farming and organic farming. One of the botanists told them about the utility of vermicompost and bio pest controllers.
          In 2008, Swanirvar started a mass campaign programme on Sustainable farming in Swarupnagar Block. At that time Prakash met one of our successful farmers, Mr. Ananda Mondal who lived very near to his house. Anada told him that he was not using any kind of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in his field and using only homemade vermicompost, compost tea, vermi- wash and bio pest controllers in his field. He also added that he had learnt these techniques from Swanirvar’s agri schools in Swarupnagar.
           Prakash immediately met our staff and took training on vermicompost. After that he made two chambers (vermin pits) adjacent to his shop and now producing vermicompost from there. He is not only using this compost in his field but also selling the rest amount. Now he is one of our campaigners in that locality. One of his remarkable achievements is that he had persuaded all the vegetable merchants of Nabatkati market to put their unsold rotten vegetable wastes in his vermi-pits. In our state, most of the markets have no system of waste management and the rotten vegetable wastes are scattered hare and there. But Mr. Sarkar’s initiative has shown a new way and has been praised by the Nabatkati merchant association.
Producing vermicompost

Friday, August 13, 2010

Campaign with the School Students

           One of our broad objectives of the sustainable agriculture programme was to spread the awareness amongst the school students. We believe that livelihood practices should be included in the school curriculum.
           Our staffs Nani Gopal and Anjana are working with the farmers in Basirhat-I block for the last 10 years. One of our project areas is Nakurdaha (a small village and most of the villagers are schedule caste and farmers in profession) in this block. The significance of this area is that it is just beside the Indo-Bangladesh border. Here the school dropout rate is very high and in most of the cases the dropouts get involved in burglary, illegal trafficking and smuggling, etc.

Grafting Training
            In May, 2010 we invited local adolescence youths to come to our agri-school. Our main objective was to teach them some tools of sustainable agriculture practice, so that in future they can implement these in their farm lands. Surprisingly 27 boys and 18 girls (class-V to class-X and all from the schedule caste families) from local Itinda High school came to our agri school. On the very 1st day, we shared our vision and philosophy with them and also told them about our works. Initially they were not so interested in learning agriculture but they were very interested to learn grafting. The grafting was a very know term to them through their Bio-science books but they had no handheld orientation. Some of them told that then had even tried it independently in their home but was not successful. Then we gladly told them that we would teach them. Then we jointly decided that on each Sunday there would be one hour session on grafting. So far they had attended all the Sundays and attendance rate was cent percent. All the 45 students had learnt grafting and making saplings. They had even planned to plant some of their saplings on the Independence Day (15th August, 10).
           Besides grafting we had also trained them on how to select good seeds. Seed selection is one of the main practices in farming. The youths had adopted the methods of seed selection very quickly. We requested them to implement this technique in their farm. Mausami Sarkar, one of the successful trainees had implemented this seed selection method in their farm and had also trained her father and forced him to follow this method.

Training on seed selection

Friday, April 9, 2010

Campaign for Relay cropping

The State of West Bengal in the eastern part of India, bordering Bangladesh, is a unique example where rice is cultivated in all the three seasons viz., summer, autumn and winter. The State has to feed almost 70 million people with the support of only 5.8 million hectares of cultivable land. Since independence the state has, therefore, had to resort to more areas under rice than for other crops, especially pulses, the productivity of which are comparatively low. At present the area under rice occupies about 66 percent of the total gross cropped area, which is about 9.24 million hectares with an average cropping intensity of 171 percent. The total area under pulses has diminished gradually every year from 582,000 ha during 1957-58 to 242,000 ha during 2002-03. It is a general practice of the farmers of this region to sow various winter pulse crops like lentil (Lens culinaris L.), mustard (BRASICCA COMPESTRISS), lathyrus (Lathyrus sativus L.), chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) and pea (Pisum sativum), wheat (Triticum aestivum ) etc, in the standing rice crop field, just before the harvest to ensure germination using the residual moisture and to avoid tillage operations during pulse growing. Such a relay cropping operation (known by the terms utera or paira) is very popular for growing lathyrus.

1. Getting one time more production, suitable for mono cropped zones( like Sundarban regions ).
2. No plowing required. Save a lot of money.
3. Less amount of water is needed, environment friendly farming technique.
4. Increase soil fertility through nitrosamines bacteria.

1. Required 20% more seeds than usual.
2. As the plants grow zigzag, sometimes need more labour.
3. In some areas of sundarban it failed as there was no scope for irrigation and there was no rain from Sept-march.

Swanirvar’s achievements:
From 2006, we are campaigning for relay cropping in the five blocks of North 24 Parganas. Our year wise achievements are as follows,
Year        Bigha        No. of Farmers

2006       4000             3500

2007       4500             3700

2008       4900             4200

2009       5800             4800

Saturday, April 3, 2010

‘Production of some vegetables with little care’- a case story

Nirmal Sarkar is one of our most successful organic farmers and one of the key campaigners of Sustainable agriculture in Baduria Block. He has10 cutta organic vegetable plots adjacent to his house and he and his wife Usha Sarkar look after these. He got a number of trainings from Swanirvar and he had successfully implemented these concepts in his field. He also has a small vegetable shop in the local market. His vegetables are very popular and customers are ready to pay higher prices for his products.
In 2008, he attended in a workshop on ‘production of some vegetables with little care’ – organized by Swanirvar and after that he made a trial plots with 200 sq ft areas adjacent to his vegetable plots.
He planted Black colocasia, Indian Spinach, colocasis root, bitter gourd and green Amaranth in his plot. In 2009, he got a good return from his field. He also got vegetables in March-April ( in dry season) and realized that to produce these vegetable a little care was enough but he got a good return out of these. His trial plot had inspired a number of farmers in Baduria and Swarupnagar Blocks.  His expenditure and income statements are given below.
Black colocasia seeds 20 kg -                   140.00
colocasis root seeds 6 kg                            84.00
Indian Spinach seeds                                    2.00
bitter gourd seeds                                         5.00
2 labour                                                    160.00
Vermicompost & Ash 17 kg                       85.00
Misc                                                           50.00
TOTAL                                                     526.00

Income :
Black colocasia 110 kg -                           1280.00
colocasis root 20 kg                                     320.00
Indian Spinach 30kg                                     240.00
bitter gourd 5 kg                                           185.00
Green Amaranth                                             30.00
TOTAL                                                        2655.00
Net Profit : Rs. 2129.00

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Some Small Success Stories – January –February-2010

Spreading SRI technique in Rice Production:

        For the last 2 years, one of our main campaigns was to introduce the SRI techniques (The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a method of increasing the yield of rice produced in farming. It was developed in 1983 by the French Jesuit Father Henri de Laulanie in Madagascar.) This year we are very successful in spreading this in Balti – Nityanandakati and Bithari-Hakimpur GPs under the Swarupnagar Block of N24 Pgs. So far 14 farmers had practiced this in 12 Bighas of land. Mr. Sankar Das, Sub-Divisional Agriculture Development Officer, Mr. Amal Mondal, Block Agriculture Development Officer & Local KPs( agriculture- assistant) had visited our farmers plots and had request our staff, Tarun to campaign for it in the entire block … ...
Fertilizer merchant joined with us…..

        We have an agriculture training school in Nabatkati of Balti – Nityanandakati GP under the Swarupnagar Block of N24 Pgs. There are a number of farmers who produce the manures and pest controllers in their homes and are independent in farming. Local fertilizer merchants were not happy with us. But six month ago one of the fertilizer merchants, Prakash came to our school and got some idea on bio compost making. He made one chamber beside his shop in Nabatkati Bazar and was very successful in producing pit-compost from there. He collected the unsold vegetable waste and gathered these in his chamber. Now he has joined with us… and planning to produce vermicompost on commercial basis. He has started selling vermicompost and PSB, Neem oil from his shop….....

Thursday, February 18, 2010

High Protein, Low Priority

Low Pulse
Savvy Soumya Misra
Surendra Nath has switched to eating grass-pea, though he knows it is not good for health. But so is tobacco, he argues. He cannot do without pulses and pigeon-pea selling at Rs 100 a kg is beyond his means. The 45-year-old electrician-cum-security-in-charge at a housing society in east Delhi earns Rs 5,000 a month and has a seven-member family to support. “My wife insists on cooking pulses at least once a day, so we have switched to khesari(grass-pea), the cheapest availabledal, that too at Rs 60 a kg,” he said.Nath belongs to Bihar, where pulses, especially pigeon-pea (known as tur orarhar in India), form an integral part of the diet. Only cattle and the poorest of the poor would eat grass-pea since it can cause neurological disorders like paralysis and stunted growth on regular consumption over a long period.
Nath recalls a saying in Bihari, “ tudup taari, bel khesari ”, which means, “while the backward caste people consumed intoxicants, the ox consumed grass-pea”. To keep good health he tries larding his conversation with humour. “Now that we are on khesari, there is nothing for the ox,” he said. In several villages in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh people now keep pigeon-pea for special occasions; peas and potatoes are the new staple.Pulses were displaced from their prime position in many an Indian platter when their prices doubled a year ago. Pigeon pea, which cost Rs 50 a kg earlier, was for Rs 120. Greengram saw a similar price rise and most other pulses were above Rs 70 a kg. While the poor cut down on pulses, their main source of protein, the middle class grudgingly stuck to its preferred pulses. “Adjustments are made in other expenses; rice, wheat and pulses are the basic requirements,” said Sonila Sinha, a teacher in Delhi’s suburb Noida and mother of two growing children. Pulses are essential for protein, body’s building blocks, she stressed. Though rice and wheat have some protein, they do not have the right amino acids. The only other source of protein in human diet is animal protein, like chicken and egg. Since the majority in India are vegetarian that source is out of question. “With rising prices we are robbed of the pulse protein as well,” said Veena Shatrugna, a nutritionist formerly with the National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad.

Why prices jumped
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar blamed the jump in pulse prices on flagging imports, low production and increased purchasing power of the Indian consumer. The reduction in global production and high international prices slowed down the import of pulses in the past two years.
In 2007-08, India imported 2.85 million tonnes of pulses and next year, 2.32 million tonnes. This year imports were delayed because of late payment to exporters and low stocks with main exporting countries. “We expect imports of four million tonnes by the end of this year since there is a shortage within the country,” said K C Bhartiya, chairperson of the Pulses Importers Association.
Since India is the biggest consumer of pulses, demand within the country influences international prices. Some pulse-exporting countries factor Indian demand in their production. India is also the biggest producer of pulses.

Report from: Propoor News