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Organic Farming


Over-irrigation is the number one reason for the overexploitation of groundwater. With free electricity from the government, pumps are often left on 24 hours a day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An organic farmer of Maharashtra came to explain how to save 50% of water with negligible loss of yield. [a training course in February 1999]

This graph based on research from the demonstration plots in the surrounding villages shows that by following organic farming methodologies the quality and quantity of yield can slightly increase the net income of a farmer.

Organic farming is essential for sustainable water management of this area. The aquifers are getting depleted at alarming rates primarily caused by heavy over-irrigation practices with the main aquifer having an extraction rate 20 times its' recharge rate! Moreover, the heavy use of pesticides is creating a rampant risk to the population and the water. The decrease in soil fertility and in beneficial biodiversity caused by these chemical inputs jeopardizes the prospects of further agriculture development. As well, Salinization, caused by this heavy over-extraction, is occurring in some areas negatively affecting drinking water and the production of crops.

As far as health risk from pesticides, India features the highest rate of pesticide residues in human tissues, and among Indian states Tamil Nadu ranks first in pesticide use per hectare.

Social factors aggravate the trend: a free electricity policy discouraging water and energy conservation; high interest rates of moneylenders and water-lenders; and dependence on input suppliers (chemicals, water, seeds, etc). In the absence of training and extension, the pesticides salesmen are the main source of technical advice often misleading farmers to irrationally over-apply the pesticides and over-irrigate their crops.

The market channels with its numerous intermediaries and wastes along the food chain absorb most of the marginal profits of agriculture, and do not guarantee a healthy end product on the consumer's plate. This brings small farmers to the edge of economic survival.

 

Promotion of Organic Farming Activities


Harvest Eco-Farms

Harvest Eco-Farms was an ecological farming program that included an 8-acre outreach research farm around the Naidu House office and several demonstration plots within farms of interested progressive farmers in the area. A network of farmers interested in ecological farming was formed and the agricultural team, as well as visiting experienced farmers, provided them with training, technical advice, organic inputs, inspections and a guaranteed market for their produce.

The research farm was composed of a variety of local crops and systems: rain fed and irrigated field crops, a coconut grove, sugarcane, vegetables and fruits. The research activities of the farm included:

  • Field testing and troubleshooting problems specific to our climatic conditions
  • Documenting  various cultivation practices and then producing technical pamphlets
  • Researching the most cost effective, labor & capital extensive, resource saving practices & technologies

The technical information collected on organic cultivation (from farm results and farm visits) is compiled per crop, adjusted to our local agro-climatic conditions, and published in a series of crop cultivation handbooks.

Unfortunately, due to several consecutive poor monsoons and lack of funding the Harvest Farms had to shut down.

However, the gained experience is presently materializing by bringing an organic farming promoting program in the area. This program will include trainings, research and several demonstration plots on interested farmer's land. We will work with the existing network of farmers interested in ecological farming and try to encourage more members. Due to the high lease it will not include the research farm around the Naidu House.

 

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