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