Wanaparthy: In recent years, rural Telangana has witnessed a spurt in organic farming, largely influenced by Subhash Palekar’s integrated farming approach.
NRIs, software employees, retired professionals and traditional farmers have been actively opting for organic farming. Praveen Kumar Reddy is one such person who left his software job in Bengaluru to return to his roots to become a full-time farmer, cultivating organic paddy, millets and fruits in his 15-acres-land at his native place, Pebbair.
It all started in 2013, when he took the decision to become an organic farmer. He took assistance on subject matter from Grama Bharathi, an organisation which believes in the principles of ‘school, temple, farm and market,’ to achieve its objective of ‘social reconstruction of villages’.
“The farmer, who was totally independent long back, has now become dependent on external factors such as seeds, fertilizers, equipment, labour and marketing. Palekar’s method envisages at making a farmer independent once again. Going for indigenous seeds (as against GM seeds), going for pest management and by saving the farmer’s land fertility and porosity this change can happen,” he told ‘Telangana Today’.
He himself has been cultivating his land organically and not only grows organic crops and fruits, but also raises his own flock of country hens (about 30 of them), which started-off when he bought just a hen and a cock. He also has goats in his farm. Through pandal farming, he has been cultivating long gourd and has a small nursery in his farm. On three acres hr grows organic vegetables such as tomatoes, green chillis, leafy vegetables and so on.
Realising that others should also be made of his work, he has been actively involved with Grama Bharathi and has been leading the training camps of the organisation, which are being held in Buddharam village in Gopalpet mandal and other places in the district.
“We trained some 50-60 farmers in Buddharam village for 15 days on organic farming. For example, we identified that spodoptera litura (oriental leafworm moth) was eating away entire crop of castor in the village. By preparing a chemical-free pesticide using green chillis, ginger and garlic, and, spraying it on the crop, 70 per cent of crop was saved. By using another mix of natural ingredients called ‘Vavilaaku Kashayam,’ we were able to remove the pest 100 per cent and save the crop. By practically showing the farmers how this could be done, we won the confidence of the farmers in Buddharam,” he said.
Not just Praveen, there are Joint Directors, Agricultural Officers and many resource persons who have been actively volunteering for Grama Bharathi’s training activities.
Help from district administration
He told ‘Telangana Today’ that with the help of the district administration, 43 farmers of Gummakonda village in Nagarkurnool were sent for training to Palekar’s farming camp held in Guntur last year. District Collector Sweta Mohanty had gone the extra-mile to get space alloted for the organic mango farmers in Wanaparthy every Saturday, Sunday and Monday at KBR Park in Hyderabad, so that they would get good price for their produce. The effort had received good public response.
In addition to this, Mohanty had also assured the organic farmers in the district that a stall would be allotted exclusively to them, once the new vegetable market complex construction is completed.
Praveen, along with his network of organic farmers in the district, have worked out a way to eliminate middle-men and get good price for their produce. The organic brand of brothers have established an understanding with ‘Sampradayam,’ an organic products brand which makes healthy products by processing organic products and sells them in big retail outlets in Hyderabad. The company sources the entire produce from Praveen and other organic farmers, paying a fair price for their effort.
But this is just a small assurance. Once the network expands and the scale of production increases, it would need more supply-chain management effort which may or may not be managed by a single person or a group of organic farmers. This is where a policy intervention through a decision of the State government would help in a major way.