The organic Bhavani rice crop was harvested by the end of January 2018 in Sadivayal village, Coimbatore. This is the second year the 20-member farmers’ club has successfully farmed its 40 acres of land. Use of eco-friendly practices has inspired seven nearby village hamlets to do the same. The aim is three-fold: 1) A better crop 2) Healthier food 3) Revitalized soil after years of pesticide usage.
Some challenging circumstances have required patience, persistence, and creative solutions. Amrita SeRVe village coordinator, Sreeni K.R, notes that the rains were 1.5 months late this year. “Then wild boars destroyed some five (5) acres of grown crop,” he says, “which caused the mood of the farmers to sink.” However, a solution was soon found. Night shifts were organized between the farmers, who gave up their sleep to man the hastily built watch house.
An ongoing challenge is the fluctuating market price for rice. Storing the surplus crop is a common problem throughout India, explains Sreeni.
Despite these challenges, hope and trust in the upcoming season prevail: “We are looking forward to new crops and practices,” Sreeni says. “We are going to sit down with the farmers and plan what to do next.”
Below, capturing the mood and spirit of this year’s harvest, are pictures from Sreeni K.R’s log:
21st July: Farmers in Sadivayal discuss cost effective plans for organic farming.
7th August: Land preparation in Sadivayal. As a result of 30 cows grazing on the paddy fields over a period of 6 months, the land has became fertile. The next step before running the cage wheel is mulching. Praying for heavy rain, which will ensure food security and an organic seed bank for the future.
9th August: Land preparation is a crucial step. Have determined that water conditions are insufficient. Hoping that rain starts soon.
14th August: Tractor work and training programs are on-going in Sadivayil.
22nd August: Purchased pipes to repair the irrigation pipeline, which had been broken by elephants in various places.
7th September: Long-awaited rains have ushered in the next phase of land preparation.
9th September: Rinsing seeds in water and treating with Beejamritam, a natural fertilizer. Soaked for 48hrs before preparing seed beds.
18th September: The saplings have started growing. Heavy rain in Sadivayal.
20th September: Preparing the watch house. Amrita SeRVe’s sevite, Soumya, with farmer family. Land preparation and seedbeds are in progress.
28th September: Farmers visit Amritapuri.
4th October: Transplantation using organic methods has begun on 40 acres of land.
While neighbouring hamlets are drawing inspiration from Sadivayil farmers, plans are underway for an all organic farming village.
Hope for coming days as more farmers draw inspiration and convert to organic farming methods.
6th October: Farmers applied Beejamridam and Jeevamritam.
11th October: Transplantation taking place at Sadivayal. 400 direct and indirect jobs for villagers have been generated.
14th October: Land preparation and transplantation with the application of Beejamridam, organic manure prepared at Sadivayal.
2nd Nov: When I reached Sadivaiyal after one week, a tranquil breeze welcomed me. The lush green field looks beautiful when golden sun rays shower upon it.
7th November: Organic fertilizers such as Beejamridam along with a natural pest control five-leaf extract made at Sadivayal village.
13th November: Conducted farmers meeting to discuss bore well repair, organic certification and the one-vegetable garden.
16th December: Observing the start of the new yield.
3rd January: Yesterday a wild pig came to the field and destroyed the paddy. As farmers wept over their loss, I felt the depth of anguish at having brought the paddy to this stage only to have it destroyed. “Cultivating a paddy is as challenging as raising a small child,” they explained.
10th January: Farmers and their families remain in the fields to guard against wild animals.
20th January: The harvest has begun in Sadivayal.
27th January: A stall displaying the harvested crops has been set up at Amma’s program in Coimbatore. The farmers receive darshan, smiles, and blessings from Amma.
22nd February: National conference on Agriculture 2022 – Doubling Farmers Income. Meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “In the meeting with Prime Minister one of the main discussion were how to use convergence method for agricultural development. To some extend in Sadivayal we have succeeded,” Sreeni remarks.
27th February: Digging a trench all around the village to protect it from wild animals. Following a long-awaited village request (VDC, village development committee), the forest deputy took the initiative.
* Convergence method is the merging of initiatives from the side of the government and the farmers to improve the effectiveness of agriculture. The government is supporting this and similar projects through various schemes, including subsidies for seed crops and land preparation, whereas the farmers have taken the initiative to be more economical by operating as a group, thereby saving expenses in purchasing and land preparation.