Govind Mandal, a farmer from Udki village was pulling a rickshaw in Panna, a small city in MP leasing 5 acres of land 7 years back. Today, he is a proud cultivator earning around Rs 4 lakh annually by multi-cropping of wheat, rice, and moong along with seasonal vegetables using organic farming methods.
Govind’s elder son Niranjan worked as an agricultural labor in Chhattisgarh, where he saw that even an average land can result in good output. He returned to the village in 2013 and started farming. Govind got in touch with Samarthan, a voluntary organization working in that area, and got guidance and support to construct a farm pond under the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. He was also linked with the Krishi Vigyan Kendra and Fisheries Department to access knowledge and funding support. The typical agricultural practices based on high input costs with the use of high-yielding varieties of seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, there was no substantial gain. Govind’s father told him that we will always be in debt unless we change our practice of cultivation and attempt natural farming methods as advised by the workers of Samarthan.
With Niranjan’s prior experience in Chhattisgarh in natural farming. They started with tree plantation- Aonla, Guava, Mango, Banana, and Sugarcane in and around their farm land. Samarthan’s experts invited Niranjan and other farmers like him to build their capacity on preparing bio-fertilizers- Jeevamrut, Bijamrut, etc. Along with training on vermi-compost, he was also provided with Vermi-bed.
The family’s hard work resulted in huge demand for their produce, people come and buy his produce right from his field even before it reaches the local market. According to him, their input cost has reduced considerably due to a reduction in the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Annual production of organic wheat is 27 quintals, paddy 80 quintals, vegetables & fruits like Barbatti, Guava, tomato, etc is more than 10 quintals, 13 quintals fish along with eggs from poultry. The dream of Niranjan is to educate more and more people to adopt natural farming and motivate people to plant trees.
There is a need for the promotion of natural farming with small and marginal farmers to safeguard them from natural calamities, and pest attacks and to help them earn a sustainable income from agriculture. Production of organic fertilizers and pesticides marketed by various companies are very expensive. There is a need for mass production at the village level by the farmers collectives or SHG women who were traditionally managing protection and germination of seeds, and preparation of organic manure. The Gram Panchayats will have to play facilitative role by providing public space for such activities as well as for providing incentives to those families willing to shift to organic farming. There is a need to build effective market linkages for sale of organic produce in the market with higher prices and greater appreciation of the efforts of the farmers.