Features

Group Farming Getting Popular in 2018

November 2018

A farmers’ group consists of 5 to 30 agricultural landholders that are interested in pooling their resources and carrying out their seasonal cultivation collectively. The main objectives of Amrita Farmers’ Groups are:

  1. increase the livelihood of poor and marginal farmers
  2. improving the overall health and security of farmers in food, social welfare, and safety
  3. involving government and local authorities in supporting sustainable agriculture
  4. adopting innovative methods to make effective use of available resources and restore the fertility of the land

Here are some of the success stories of the farmers’ group’s initiatives:

Sadivayal farmers’ group in Tamil Nadu led the way

In May 2016, 20 of the most deprived farming families of the village joined together to start the first Amrita Farmers’ Group under the name of Amrita Vyavasayam Kulu. The members themselves defined their responsibilities and formulated guidelines for internal management. With guidance from Amrita SeRVe, they started with activities like selection of seed, soil testing, seed testing, crop planning, water budgeting and water conservation measures. Every step was discussed among the group to find solutions.

This organic venture paid off when in January 2017 they harvested their first profitable crop in five years. Here they saw a 200% increase in net income – from a loss of 23,600 Rs in previous years to a profit of nearly 50,000 Rs per acre using natural farming methods.

After this great success, the following year in 2017 they decided to expand to 40 acres and have had surrounding villages express interest in learning from them and converting to natural methods of farming as well. So far 150 acres of fallow land in nearby villages have been converted to rice fields for the adoption of a similar approach.

Traditional farming in Valaramkunnu, Wayanad, Kerala

Vallaramkunnu is a tribal village of 75 families located at Wayanad district, Kerala. The farmers are growing five acres of organic Aadhira rice. In 2017, 13 farmers formed Amrita Organic Farmers’ Club and registered under Cooperative Society Act with the help of village coordinator Haridas. The agricultural land is taken on lease and the cultivated paddy was distributed to the villagers.

Wheat cultivation in Harirampura, Rajasthan

In Harirampura, Rajasthan, 9 of the 55 tribal families in the village have begun forming a farmers’ group already back in 2015. For their last collective cultivation, they set aside four and half acres of their land for organic wheat cultivation. Their first organic harvest was a big success, culminating in the harvest of 4,000 kilograms of the crop.

Although it is common that yields are initially lower on land that got used to chemical fertilizers, the added sales value of their organic crop has easily compensated for that. Their profits were further boosted by reduced expenditure on costly seed crops and chemicals as fertilisers and pesticides.

Usually such small-scale farmers sell to middle men who then deliver the goods to a larger market. For the first time this year, the farmers sold their produce directly to end consumers, which further increased their revenues. For this purpose, an organic wheat sale was organised at the Mata Amritanandamayi Math branch in Delhi. There, the farmers club was able to get an average of 30 per kg, instead of 15 per kg that they would have received otherwise.

Based on this success, the farmers are currently expanding the share of organic cultivation for the next season, eagerly pursuing the vision of converting their entire village to fully organic agriculture. Amrita Farmers Club – Harirampura was formed and registered under the central government scheme of the Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA).

Nani Borvai Farmers Group, Gujarat

In Nani Borvai village, Gujarat, agriculture is the primary source of income for over 100 farming households with a combined land holding of 300 acres. Eighty-five per percent of these farmers are marginal. Their main crops are groundnuts, rice, cotton, and maize. A farmers’ group has been formed in July.

Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Society

Andhra Pradesh’s first agriculture society was registered in July 2018 by the members of the Amrita Gudipadu Cheruvu Organic Farmers’ Group. They immediately organised themselves and began the preparations for organic chilly cultivation. They started with training on the preparation and usage of natural fertilizers, such as Jeevamritam, as well as how to treat the organic seeds before planting.

Later in August, the chilly saplings were purchased for 16 acres of land. The next day the saplings were planted. More meetings followed to complete the applications for a tractor and bore well motors. All steps are guided and supported by Amrita SeRVe’s local coordinator and experienced agriculture program manager.

Havelikheda Farmers Group, Madhya Pradesh

The Havelikheda villagers conducted their first farmers’ meeting in July 2018 and agreed to form a farmers’ group. It was registered under the Department of Agriculture. The main crops are paddy and wheat.

Lemongrass in Chhattisgarh and Bihar

Currently, over 70 families have taken advantage of the expertise and experience offered through the CIMAP – Amrita SeRVe collaboration. With guidance from CIMAP, lemongrass cultivation has commenced in two villages. In Bihar, the first lemongrass crop was planted in August.

Commencing in December 2017, with the Malgaon village (Chhattisgarh), CIMAP guided and supported the farmers in lemongrass cultivation and distillation. Arranged and facilitated by Amrita SeRVe, CIMAP talked with the farmers in their fields, did filming and field-testing, checked the quality of the lemongrass plants and compared the yield of each farmer. As a result, the Malgaon farmers groups have had two very successful harvests and production of the oil using a water and steam distillation process.

Amrita SeRVe has supported the formation of groups so far in 12 states for cultivation of the local crops: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.

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