Sunday, September 25, 2011

Silent revolution in Sundarban (Successful post AILA recovery programme):

Bishnupada working in  his vermicompost pit
            On 25th May, 2009, a super cyclone, AILA devasted the livelihoods of Sundarban. Most of the farmlands were under saline water. 6 Blocks of North 24 pargnas were affected by this cylone. Hingalganj and Sandeshkhali-II blocks were the worse affected. Out of 9 Gram Panchayats of Hingalganj block, Kalitala Gram Panchayat (GP) was severly affected by AILA. 90% farmlands of Samsernagar and Pargumti villages of Kalitala GP were under saline water, most of the cattles were died.
            At the initial stage, we (Swanirvar and its technical partner, DRCSC) concentrated on relief-response programme. We provided dryfoods, drinking water and medicines, etc to them. After that our prime focus was reconstruction and development. We made a detailed survey to annlysis the graveness of the situation and also to plan our future strategies. We found that most of the farmers had no saline tollerent paddy seeds and no vegetable seeds of indigenious variety.
            Our staff visited the Parghumti and Kalitala villages and met the villagers. 26 Small farmers groups were formed and we gave them hand held orientations on –sustainable ecological farming parctises, vermicompost making, bio-pestcontrollers, saline tollerent paddy farming and preservation of seeds, etc.
With our continuous efforts and with hard labour of the farmers groups, most of the farmers are now truned back and getting good return form his salt deposited barren lands.
            Bishnupada Baidya (26 yrs) was one the members of our farmers club of Parghumti villages. He had 1 acre farm lands and also had 0.20 acre vegetable gardens adjacent to his house. He had 3 members in his family also had cattles and poultry birds. He took trainings on vermicomposting, folk seed collection and preservation and bio-fertilizers etc from our agri-schools.
            He got 4kg Marichshal paddy seeds (a saline tollerent folk paddy) from us as loan. He was so successful with this folk rice and got 180Kg paddy and 1700 bundle of straw as fodder. He had very little expenses as he used vermicompost as manures and followed Integrated Pest Managemnt (IPM) methodologies in farming. He also motivated 9 other successful farmers to form a Grain Bank and they had contributed 50 kg paddy/ member as intitial reserve grains.  
Rain water use in vegetable garden
            He also got trainings on rainwater storing and using. (95% palces in Sundarban are mono-cropped and only produce paddy in monsoon. After that the farmers keep their farmlands vacant and used as a gazing field for the cattles). He also got folk vegetable seed support from us. Presently, he was producing pumpkin, bitter gourd, ladiesfingers, flatbeans, and longbeans, red amaranth, Indian spinach etc in his home kitchen garden. He said No to chemical pesticides and only using home made bio-pest controllers and bio-nutrients. In each week he was earning ~Rs. 250.00 by saleing the vegetables and also getting the sufficient vegetable for his family. He also harvested fooders in the paddy field for his cattle. He had realized the goodness of fold seeds and ecological farming. He also asked for more hand held trainings from us and also trying to produce other fold paddy in his field. He has become an icon in his area and has inspired many farmers.

Reported by,
Sujit Adhikari

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Income generating activity: Pigeon farming getting popular

Purnima with her pigeons
       One of the major activities of Swanirvar’s Sustainable Agriculture Department was to develop the livelihood skills of the farmers-group members. We also gave small loans to the group members so that they could start small income generating activities by their own. These loans were supported by our technical partner organization, DRCSC, a Kolkata based NGO.

        In post AILA (a super-cyclone that devastated entire Sundarban delta in 2009-10) recovery programme, we observed that common people liked to have meat in their food menu. But the situation in most of our project areas was so grave that most of the villagers were unable to rear goat, lamb, hen etc in their homes. There were no fodders and no surplus food-grains for them. At that situation we advised them to rear Pigeons. The reasons were 1. Pigeons were self-fed, they collected their food and not dependent on the owner. 2. Country –pigeons could sustain in adverse weather and common diseases tolerant. 3. From an adult pigeon we could get 250gm flesh. Now many of our farmers were rearing pigeons in their homes. In 2009 our farmer, Purnima Sarkar bought 2 pairs of pigeons and made small cages for them. She made these cages with wooden apple boxes. Now she had many pigeons from these 2 pairs. She had given them some broken-rice and wheat in monsoon.
Below, there was summery of her income-expense statement
In 2009-10:
Cost of Pigeons: 20.00
Apple boxes : 35.00
Broken Rice: 150.00
In 2010-11: Broken Rice: 400.00
In 2009-10:
Pigeons sold (46 pcs): 1370.00
In 2010-11:
Pigeons sold (70pcs): 2100.00
Net Profit: In 2009-10: Rs. 1165.00
                 In 2010-11: Rs. 1700.00
Pigeon rearing was now getting popular. Now more than 20 farmers were rearing pigeons in their homes.

Reported by:
Sandhya Mondal
Supervisor, Agriculture Department,