NEWS : Proof that an Organic Farming Mission Can Succeed
By N V Ravindranathan Nair
Published: 15th June 2015 06:00 AM
Last Updated: 15th June 2015 03:18 AM
The farm under Sanghamaithri at Kalloor panchayat | Express
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the majority demanding that the farming activity be organic these days, a farmers’ collective in the capital district has been educating farmers for the last 12 years and has finally achieved the goal of producing vegetables completely free of toxic pesticides.
Sanghamaithri Farmers’ Producer Company at Pallichal in the district has been able to bring about a change among the over 6,000 farmers who are its members.
Sanghamaithri, which had its beginning in 2003 as a charitable society with just 20 farmers and with a capital of Rs 15,000, is now a movement spread across 50 panchayts in the district.
The farmers’ produce can be sold at the 12 collection centres of Sanghamaithri at a higher price by avoiding middlemen. The customers also have the advantage of dealing directly with farmers.
The company has nine vehicles to collect the vegetables, banana and other fruits. It also brings raw mango collected from Krishnagiri and ripens the fruit at the ripening chamber, with 20 tonne capacity, at its facility at Pallichal. In the capital city, the company stations mobile selling outlets near VJT Hall, near Secretariat and Medical College. The initiative has grown in volume, crossing Rs 1 crore as turnover in Pallichal alone.
“Farmers will welcome organic farming. But the government should provide them effective alternatives for chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” points out R Balachandran Nair, chairman of the company.
“We use only organic pesticides like Nanma and Menma developed by Central Tuber Crops Research Institute at Sreekariyam which have been found effective in containing the pests in banana trees,” says Balachandran Nair.
However, he has complaints about Horticorp, other government agencies and banks which are expected to help farmers. “Farmers are a neglected lot. They are not respected. No farmer will wish his son to become a farmer in the prevailing condition,” he says. He points out that recently SBT spent lakhs of rupees to buy uniforms for policemen as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR). But nothing is given to farmers.
However, Cochin Shipyard granted the company an amount of Rs 46,64,800 as part of its CSR. Rashtriya Krishi Yojana also gave Rs 25,20,000.
Balachandran Nair, with a vision of sustaining agriculture, says that there should be an attitudinal change towards farmers. If the young generation is to be attracted to the profession, there should be involvement of science, modern technology and management skills in farming activity.
He wants inclusion of real farmers in the Planning Board. Annual budget exclusively for agriculture and introduction of Seed Act, enabling farmers to get compensation in case of distributing seeds that don’t sprout, are his other demands. A soil-testing facility and Virology Institute are necessary.
Free insurance should be the right of the farmers, he insists.
Balachandran Nair has complaints about the banks’ approach to farmers. NABARD also has not been friendly to farmers, he adds. “A farmer should have the means to lead a decent life. He should be able to own a car. His children should get the opportunity to get admitted in good schools,” he points out.