Bangalore Rural Educational and Development Society (BREADS)

WELIVE Organic Farming Project- Punalur, Kerala

Eackadu, is a remote village in Poruvazhy panchayat of Sasthamcotta Block in Kollam Dt. The area comprises undulating high ridges and low valleys with elevations ranging from 20 to 120m. Homestead farming is practised in the area where the land around is utilised for growing annual, seasonal or perennial crops for household requirements. The economy is agriculture-based, and the major crops in the area are vegetables, plantain and tubers, rubber, paper etc. The major occupational groups are subsistence farmers, agricultural labourers, cashew workers, quarry and construction workers. The normal agricultural practices of the target population are based on chemical farming. Hence, many farmers in the target area have only vague ideas about organic farming and its advantages against conventional farming methods. Use of the bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides requires awareness and willingness on the part of the farming community. Eventually, the Punalur Social Service Society implemented this project with the technical and financial support of BREADS Banglore.

The promotion of organic farming is one of the activities in this project. 60 women from 5 SHGs of Edackad village were selected for this project (which would later be extended). During the selection meeting, an awareness class also was conducted. Hence, the women are aware of the consequences of the overuse of chemical pesticides and fertilisers in vegetables and fruits. On 21st March 2021, a one-day training was conducted for the members on organic farming. After the training, they collected seeds and seedlings from Krishi Bhavan.

The plan ahead is to conduct training in preparing organic manure and pesticides as soil fertility and higher productivity are the only alternatives to ensure food security among the rural community for which the farmers need to adapt to traditional, organic agriculture methods. This one-day training would focus on preparing fish amino acid, egg amino acid, vermin compost, panchagavaya and other organic pesticides. Distribution of vegetable seeds and suckers as part of the organic farming promotion aims to distribute vegetable seeds (seeds of a pea, bitter gourd, ladies finger, brinjal, chilly, tomato) and tuber suckers to the selected 60 women. It will ensure food security and supplement the income of marginal women. The women are supposed to give back a minimum amount of good quality seeds and suckers to the SHG’s, which will then be distributed to other community members. This will ensure that the organic farming system can be implemented in the whole village. Even though most of them have Vazha, Moringa and Papaya trees, it was suggested to plant additional plants, and they have agreed to it. The concept’s aim is that all the beneficiary families should have varieties of banana, moringa and papaya plants in their available land.

The impact of the project is to achieve a sustainable living condition among 60 families in Poruvazhy Panchayat. The project aims to reduce the incidence of toxin-induced diseases due to chemical farming, and the monthly income of 60 families are increased by Rs 500- 1000 per month by the end of 2022.

The programme’s sustainability is ensured by developing and maintenance of SHG’s and their linkage with financial institutions and government departments like agriculture and health.  The formation of SHGs will help in maintaining and sustaining the project. The target community will plan the whole programme, and hence they will know what is best and most appropriate for them, but one coordinator would be in charge of this village. Availability of soft/ internal loan will motivate them to expand organic farming activities, and this will turn the ideal kitchen garden into model farms for replication.

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