Zero budget organic farming quite a difficult proposition

Use of chemical fertilizers for commercial crops is the norm, say farmers

July 08, 2019 11:41 pm | Updated 11:41 pm IST - ADILABAD

A farmer with his organically grown green gram crop at Mallapur in Adilabad district.

A farmer with his organically grown green gram crop at Mallapur in Adilabad district.

Zero budget organic farming, espoused by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech, may be advisable for poor farmers but it is quite a difficult proposition at this stage in cotton rich places like the former composite Adilabad district.

Tough task

For one, the soils which have lost their natural nutritional value owing to injudicious use of chemicals over the last few decades will not support organic farming unless their vitality is renewed, which is a tough task in itself.

“The market is very far. I am left with five quintals each of sama (little millet) and bhadi (kodo millet) from last year’s harvest,” revealed Athram Bheem Rao, a Raj Gond tribal farmer from Mallapur village in Indervelli mandal of Adilabad district.

There are over 80 small and marginal farmers in this village who still cultivate millets and pulses for their own consumption and have become foodgrain self sufficient since the last four years. The foodgrain is cultivated in organic method though the farmers use chemicals for the cotton or soyabean crop which is grown in two-thirds of their land.

Indigenous seeds

Organic farming is also a difficult proposition as farmers do not own indigenous seeds or sufficient number of cattle which are a prerequisite for this type of cultivation. “Owning the seeds will save expenditure at the beginning of the process and the dung of the animals used as fertiliser,” pointed out farmer Gedam Haridas.

“The persa jonna, a local variety of jowar, produces enough grain and fodder to feed a family of five and 10 cattle for one year through organic method,” he claimed. “We used to have at least five cows and a pair of bullocks in each family before use of fertilisers became inevitable, especially for the commercial crops,” he rued.

Mallapur villagers have stopped cultivating jowar in kharif due to the threat of crop damage by wild boars. “In rabi, however, as there is more movement of humans in the fields, the danger from these animals is reduced and it is possible for us to take up cultivation,” observed sarpanch Madavi Bheem Rao.

Market support

“There still remains the question of price that the organic produce commands locally. For example, the market price of red gram is ₹ 3,000 per quintal while the government has fixed the minimum support price at ₹ 5,500 per quintal,” Mr. Athram Bheem Rao pointed out another reason for zero budget farming being a tricky activity these days.

The villagers pointed out that more and more youth are moving away from agriculture. “For our investment to be nil we need family members sharing the burden in the fields,” Mr. Haridas explained.

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