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India: Organic farming, Sabari shows the way

The Hindu

Production of bio-control agents, bio-pesticides and bio-fertilisers, is yet to gain momentum in public sector organisations.

Production of bio-control agents, bio-pesticides and bio-fertilisers, is yet to gain momentum in public sector organisations.

An organic farm revolution is brewing all over India, it appears. Many states have announced their own organic farming policies.

An organic farm revolution is brewing all over India, it appears. Many states have announced their own organic farming policies.

The potential for organic farming is very huge in India given the country’s immense biodiversity and natural resources. Production of bio-control agents, bio-pesticides and bio-fertilisers, however, is yet to gain momentum in the public sector organisations. Stepping up their production is important to meet needs of farmers and give a big push to the organic farm sector. At different levels, however, efforts are moving in right direction.

Sabari, a tribal women’s self-help group (SHG) of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) under Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) at Ambalavayal, has launched commercial production of bio-products to support the organic revolution. The members of the SHG of Nellarachal tribal colony were guided by KVK 11-years ago to enter the field to produce bio-products. They were facing hard times then, as their paddy-fields got submerged by the Karapuzha Irrigation project, according to P. Rajendran, head of the KVK.

The KVK selected 10 tribal women with SSLC qualification, and gave them six months training in fungal and bacterial culture, and packing. Under a memorandum of understanding the group has with Kerala Agricultural University, the SHG would get 35 per cent of the income.

They started their endeavour with a nominal revolving fund of Rs.1 lakh, a grant from KAU to KVK in 2004-05. In the first year itself, the SHG members cultured and turned over to the University eight tonnes of Trichoderma, a bio-control agent to fight quick wilt disease affecting pepper vines, and rhizome-rot in ginger and turmeric, Dr. Rajendran, added.

Now, they have started the commercial production of Pseudomonas Fluorescence, a bacterial bio-control agent which ensures the protection of plants from plant pathogenic micro organisms; bio-fertilisers such as rhizobium, azospirillum, azetobacter, and bio-potash; bio-pesticides (entemopathogenic fungus against insects) such as Beauveria, Verticillium and Metarrizium anisopliae; and fungal bio-control agents against nematode attack.

“We have produced 10 tonnes each of Trichoderma and Pseudomonas so far this year, as well as one tonne each of bio-fertilisers and entemopathogens worth Rs.22.5 lakh. We are equipped to cater to the needs of farmers in the state for bio-products, if they inform us earlier,” K. Jalaja, President of the SHG, said.

Trichoderma is selling at Rs.105 a kg; pseudomonas at Rs.75 a kg, bio-fertilisers at Rs.70 a kg and entemopathogens at Rs.75 a kg. There is a good demand for the products among the farming community. And, it helps each member of SHG to earn Rs.6,000 a month, K.S. Rajamani, technical officer of KVK, said.

More details can be had from Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Ambalavayal P.O., Wayanad district, Kerala-673593. Phone: 04936260411, 9447186158.

wymnj@thehindu.co.in

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