Friday, December 30, 2011

House Hold Nutritional Security Model (36ftX36ft models)

This model is unique as it promotes nutritional security and round the year income to the family, in the smallest land extent possible.

 This model is developed based on the following principles:

1.       Different plants require different Photo candle light 

2.       Monocot – Dicot crop combination to maintain equilibrium for soil fertility

3.       Companion crops 

4.       Multi storied structure to harvest maximum sun light

5.       Crop diversity to manage pests

 The crops are arranged in six tiers based on the canopy and photo candle requirements.  As the crops diversity ranges from tuber crops to fruit crops, from vegetables to pulses, all the nutritional requirements for a family are met.

First tier: Root or tuber crops such as carrot, beetroot, zinger etc comes under this category. These plants require minimal sunlight.

 Second tier: Creepers, which cover the soil such as bottle gourd, cucumber etc. Creepers will act as live mulch.

Third tier: Leafy vegetables such as surrel leaves, spinach, coriander, amaranthus etc.

 Fourth tier: Vegetables such as Brinjal, Tomato, chillies etc

Fifth tier: Perennial Castor and Perennial Red gram etc

 Sixth tier: papaya, drumstick , clustered apple, guava etc
Plants and crop arrangement in 36X36 model:

Sufficient space should be given between fruit plants, Redgram, Castor, drumstick etc. In between fruit plants, tuber crops, vegetables etc should be grown in blocks. Care should be taken that all the plants get enough sunlight for photosynthesis. Crop arrangement should also be in such a way that monocots and dicots are placed adjacent to each other. Mono cot and dicot crops should be rotated in the blocks. Companion crops such as Maize and Cucmber, Citrus and osmium, Tomato and Carrot should be grown close to each other. Entire field should be covered either with creepers or with mulch. Creepers can be allowed to grow on the fruit plants.

1.       Four corners : Fruit plants such as papya, drum stick, guav etc

       2. For every 4.5 ft there should be a irrigation channel across the model

3       For every 90 cms P.Red gram and P.Castor alternatively can be grown starting from Mango or Cashew etc

4       On Red gram – creepers such as Bitter gourd can be allowed to grow

5.       On Castor  - Creepers like beans can be grown

6.       Between two fruit plants  or Red gram/Castor –  vegetables such as Tomato, Chillies, Onion etc can be grown

7.       Along the irrigation channels Creepers such as cucumber, bitter gourd etc can be grown

8.       Along the border green leaf manure crops such as Gliricidea, Subabul, Casiasemia etc can be grown


The incomes from this model range from Rs.4000-Rs.12000.

 The variation is due to the cropping pattern.

 The models where leafy vegetables were grown extensively are on the higher side incomes earned.

 The highest income so far from 36*36 models is Rs.19000.

Cost involved in developing this model is for seeds, layout preparation and preparation of dung based inoculants and botanical extracts for pest management.

Total cost per year ranges between Rs. 700- 12,000/-.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Over view of Agriculture in Andhra Pradesh in 2011

Extreme drought:
 2011 witnessed one of the worst drought situations. All most all crops dried up due to extreme drought condition. Paddy, Groundnut and Cotton crops are the worst sufferers. According one estimation farmers incurred around Rs.7,000 crores loss in this Khariff season. Situation is aggravated with regular power cuts.

 Many farmers ploughed the crop or fed their cattle. Initial rains created hopes among the farming community and they sown huge areas but after one month i.e from mid July there are no rains. Farmers tried several ways like pumping water from tanks with diesel pump sets,  hired generators to run electric bore wells, carried water in head loads, hired water tankers to irrigated their fields, but none of these efforts saved farmers and their crops. 

Hikes in Fertiliser prices:

Fertilsier prices were hiked thrice in the Khariff season. Urea prices were hiked by almost three times and DAP prices were hiked by two times. This raise in prices leads to increase in costs. Further there is a huge gap between supply and demand. Many farmers depend on block market for fertilsiers.

Crop holiday:

Farmers in Konaseema region of East Godavari, parts of west Godavari and Khammam announced crop holiday. The main factors contributing to this includes increase in labour costs, low minimum support price particularly in case of Paddy, credit cards to tenants etc.  Crop holiday resulted in loss of more than on lakh tones of Paddy. Govt commissioned a study headed by Shri.Mohan Kanda,IAS farmer chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh but the recommendations of committee are not accepted by many farmers. 

Failure of minimum support price operations:

Lack of infrastructure facilities coupled with institutional inefficiencies is the main reasons for failure in providing minimum support price to farmers. Farmers able to get minimum support price where Women SHGs operated procurement centers.

Tenancy act:

Government announced prestigious tenancy act. The main objective of the act is to recognize tenant farmers as “Farmers” and to provide them institutional credit. East Godavari district administration is able to issue tenancy cards to farmers on a large scale but other districts are failed to issue cards to all tenant farmers. This act neither created confidence in the bankers nor in the tenant farmers.

Farmer’s suicides:

 Many farmers particularly cotton farmers committed suicides due to crop failure and debts. Cost of cultivation is increased tremendously due to increase in labour costs and fertilsier prices. Crops failed due extreme drought. Increase in costs, poor institutional credit and extreme drought are the main reasons for farmer’s suicides.

 Overall the situation is pathetic. Farmers are in distress, they are looking for support from governments. Failure of institutions, failure of support systems, failure in monsoons created distress in the farming community.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Challenges in Marketing of pesticide free / organic produce

Aggregation of low volumes:  
 Most of the organic farmers are small holders and few farmers are available in a village. This requires aggregation of produce from all organic farmers. This needs huge logistics and dedicated efforts. This is the first challenge in marketing of organic produce.  We need to pool at least 3-4 quintals for breakeven.

Continuous supply:

 Consumers require variety of organic products throughout the year. Any break in this supply affects the business. Assured irrigation throughout the year makes it possible.


 Consumers require authenticity of the products. Third party certification is the best proof for organic products. Certification involves considerable cost on part of the farmers. The alternative method to third party is Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) it involves zero costs but this system provides group certification only. One more issue is farmer has to wait for three years to get organic certification.  

 Accessing space in shopping malls:

 Costs can be reduced, if we can get space in shopping malls, but all their focus is not on selling vegetables. They will keep very small space for vegetables just to create impression that everything is available in the mall.

 Fixing base price:

 Fixing base price is critical. One has to finalize which market will be considered as base line market, as there are considerable variations in prices and marketing charges.

 Accessing premiums by farmers:

 Farmers expect premium prices over the base price for their organic products. Meeting their expectations is not easy as marketing of organic products require different market channels. Most of the existing organic marketing channels are directly reaching consumers by home delivery, which is leading to escalation of costs by 9-10 times of the regular prices. This means farmer can get minimal premiums. We have to create a marketing channel which minimizes the expenditure on logistics; reduced expenditure can be paid as premium to farmers.

 Providing fair price to consumers:

 Providing organic products at reasonable prices is a big challenge and it is must for sustainability. It requires reducing costs, reducing profits etc. This is the ultimate challenge in marketing of organic/pesticide free produce.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Impact of organic manures on Soil

Organic matter
Impact on Soil
Farm yard manure (FYM)
A.     Improved Soil physical condition
B.      Increased Soil organic carbon
C.      Moisture holding capacity
D.     Improved soil air movement 
E.      Increased availability of soil nitrogen
F.      Increased availability of Micro nutrients
Crop rotation with legumes
A.     Nitrogen fixation
B.      Solubilisation of Phosphorus
C.      Increase in soil microbial activity
D.     Organic matter restoration
E.      Increased mychorizal colonization
Green leaf manure
A.     Improvement in soil porosity
B.      Improved water holding capacity
C.      Improvement in aggregate stability
D.     Increase in N2 fixers and P solubilisers 
Liquid manures (drava jeevamrutham, Pancha gavya, amrutha pani etc)
Increased N fixers, P solubilisers  and actinomycetes

A.     Increased Fixing Nitrogen
B.      Increased soil organic carbon
Other composts (Nadep etc)
A.       Increase soil organic content
B.      Improve soil physical condition
A.     Increased soil microbial population
B.      Supply N,P, K and other micro nutrients
Concentrated manures ( Neem cake, Pongamia cake etc)
A.     Supply N,P,K
B.      Improvement in Physical properties

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Food security model in CMSA

·         CMSA address food insecurity at three level i.e household level, village and national level. For each level our model promotes different strategies. 

·         CMSA believes in the principle of “Produce locally – Consume locally” - to reduce ecological foot prints associated with transport and storage of food

·         CMSA is focusing on “Increasing food grain production”, “Increasing no of food producers” and “Diversifying food”

·         POP strategy (1/2 acre irrigated land on lease) will increase the number of food producers at village level. Further this strategy will add to food grain production at village level.

·         CMSA promotes System of Rice Intensification and SRI will increase food grains production considerably

·         In Rain fed areas CMSA model promotes improved cropping pattern with Jowar, Maize, groundnut, Red gram etc on intensive model. This will increase the millets, pulses and oilseed production.

·         Poly/multistoried cropping models are able to produce diversified vegetables all around the year. This model enable us to increase the nutritional security

·         Further CMSA methods provide safe food to the society  

·         CMSA believes that there is need to change the existing concept food security.  We should come out of the belief that eating “Rice” as civilization.

·         Any food security policy should consider “Millets” also as potential food grains and should support farmers cultivating millets

·         Millets should be included in PDF on a large scale   

·         CMSA is now focusing on eliminating gap in accessing food by the poor. In the proposed model VO will identify the members who require food grains and some other selected commodities like oil, pulses, tamarind, turmeric powder etc. Further they will estimate pesticide free produce available in the village and they will do the processing and supply it to their SHG members. This model not only eliminates the gap in accessing food but also provide safe food to the poor.

Challenges and opportunities for Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA)

·         Availability of quality technical persons: Finding quality technical persons is one of the constraints to spread CMSA message.  

·         Increasing labour costs:  CMSA methods require considerable labour for preparing extracts and growing poly crops etc. as the labour costs are increasing day by day famers want low labour requirement methods.

·         Changing lifestyles:  CMSA methods require certain lifestyle changes in the farming community. Most of the farmers are unable to change their lifestyles that are influenced by marketing forces.

·         Managing workforce: Scaling up leads to increasing workforce and managing diversified workforce is real challenge. Monitoring them and building their skills require lot of efforts and resources.

·         Reaching out to millions of farmers: Now we could able to reach the farmers through Farmer Field School (FFS) and SHG meetings through VAs and CAs. This model is finically not viable and requires intense monitoring at all levels. We need to develop an alternative model of extension system to spread the message and increasing the adoption rates. Further we have to design innovative communication systems for effective communication with farmers.

·         Providing market linkages: Farmers adopting sustainable agriculture methods are expecting reasonable premium prices. Providing market linkages are one of the challenges as the markets are volatile in nature, further they require certification. Certification requires considerable investments by farmers.

·          Climate change: Most of the CMSA methods either mitigate or adapt to climate change. It is an opportunity for us to spread the message.

·         Increasing consumer awareness: Increasing consumer awareness and changing preferences will enable the farmer to get more prices. This will motivate farmers to adopt CMSA methods

·         Hostility of Scientific institutes and department of Agriculture: All most all scientific institutes and department of agriculture are not accepting CMSA methods. Convincing them is very important for the future of the program. For convincing them we need to document the results in scientific way. This requires intense efforts and building the capacities of the staff in organizing experimental trails.  

·         Policies favoring chemical agriculture:  Many programs supported by government are promoting chemical pesticides and chemical fertilsiers. Most of the times department is providing chemical fertilsiers and pesticides either on subsidies or free of cost as part of the package. This results in low turnout of the farmers towards sustainable agriculture.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Learnings from Jattu trust

Jattu trust developed “Prakruthi adi devo bhava” in 2.5 Acre land to showcase different sustainable agriculture models. Following models are available:

 Growing creepers on permanent pendals:

 They erected permanent pendals made with cement and trailing creepers on them. They are growing bottle guard and ridge guard on the pendals. This is beautiful and giving good yields

 Rejuvenating 100 years old mangos:

 One of the interesting feature in this campus is grafting mango trees which are 100 years old. One mango tree is giving different   varieties.

Raised beds:

 They are growing all crops on raised beds only. They are adding “Amrutha mitti” on raised beds which is giving very good results. They developed “Three feet”, “Five feet” and “seven feet” width beds for growing different crops.  Leafy vegetables are grown on three feet width beds, on five feet width beds they are growing Turmeric, Brinjal, Tomato, Bhendi etc. “Seven feet” width beds are using in “Annapurna” Model

 Cattle rearing:

 They are rearing eight cows. Co-1 gross is cultivating in small piece of land meet feed requirements. Biodigester is established. Cow dung is used for making amrutha jal, Ghanajeevamrutham, Dravajeevamrutham etc

 Soil fertility Management:

 Comprehensive methods are using for soil fertility. All Crops are healthy without any pest or disease. Soil fertility is managing with the following:

 ·         Amrutha mitti  - 1/4th acre is required to fill 3inches of amruthamitti in one acre – Before sowing spreading amruthamitti on raised beds.

·         Amrutha jalam: spraying once in a month

·         Ghanajeevamrutham: After intercultivation

·         Dravajeevamrutham – Once in a month

·         Nadep compost – Before sowing

Annapurna model:

 There are 12 beds in this model. Each bed is specified one crop. Each bed is seven feet width and each bed is provided irrigation with 2 feet canal. Inter row spacing for fruit plants are 36ft and intra row spacing is 9ft. Following are the crops grown in Annapurna model:

 1st Bed: Turmeric, 2nd bed: Tomato, 3rd bed: Carrot, 4th Bed: Tomato, 5th Bed: Blackgram, 6th Bed: Chilli, 7th Bed: Nursery for raising seedlings of vegetables, 8th Bed: Cauliflower, 9th Bed: Black gram, 10th Bed: Turmeric, 11th Bed: Sorrel, 12th Bed: Brinjal

SRI paddy is also growing in 1/4th Acre land.

This model supplies regular income and food and nutritional security at household level.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Srikakulam field visit: Observations and suggestions

Following are my observations and suggestions based on my visit to Kuselapuram, Ramjogipeta, Kambara,  Pedarama, Seethampeta and Sirusuvada on 5th and 7th of this month.

 Near universalisation of Alleys in Paddy:

 I found alleys in all most all villages in 100 acres blocks. The contributing factor for this is intense follow up and working on blocks. All the CAs deserves appreciation for this commendable work.

Model in Mandal samakhya, Seethampeta:

 CAs in Seethampeta mandal showed their commitment and their potential through the model they developed in MMS office. The success factor in this is Commitment and unity of CAs. We should scale up this kind of models in all villages.

 Vegetable growers of Sirusuwada:

 Vegetable growers in Sirusuwada are amazing community. Their models showed the potential of Agriculture in elimination of poverty.  This village offers lot of lessons to learn. It shows how hard work pays.

 Azolla is missing completely:

 Except in Ramajogipeta, I didn’t find Azolla in any village. Focus should be on spreading Azolla in all villages. Please recall the guidelines every VA should keep Azolla at his/her home. All DPMU functionaries should ensure spreading Azolla.  

 No driving forces and leadership at DCC level:            

 Lack of focus and driving by DPMU functionaries resulted in low adoption rates of nadep compostpits, 36X36 models, etc.

 I found that very few DPMU functionaries have energy to drive the program. Fortunately this district has very good CAs, but their energies are not channelized towards achieving the goals.  

 DPMU functionaries should guide CAs and do follow up with CAs, VAs and CRPs. Iam not clear whether DPMU functionaries have priorities and strategies to drive them.

 Reorganization ofmandal allotment to DPMU functionaries may be reviewed.

  Awareness is not leading to adoption:

 Surprisingly many farmers are aware of CMSA methods and the benefits, one farmer explained preparation of many extracts but he is not adopting CMSA methods. CAs are enable to create awareness among farming community on CMSA methods, it is time for DPMU functionaries to support CAs to convert this awareness into adoption of CMSA methods.

 All methods should be in one village:

 I didn’t find all components in one village. One village is strong in non-negotiables, some other village is storng in nadep compost pits but there is no village which has all components. Now DPMU should focus on implementing all non-negotiables and flagship components in one village so that it gives a comprehensive impact of CMSA.

 Focus on convergence with Department:

 There is visible convergence with Department of Agriculture. We should use this links to get our share in accessing pheromone traps, markers and weeders etc. This will improve the adoption rates.

 Exposure visit to Sirusawada:

 All DPMU functionaries and CAs who are implementing POP strategy should visit Sirusuwada. This will help them in achieving higher incomes in POP strategy.

 Role of NGO:

 NGO coordinators contributing like DPMU functionaries, but we are expecting more contribution in higher end activities. NGO should bring value added components like strengthening of FFS, Building infrastructure for CMSA, market linkages etc. We request Sweep NGO to work towards this.

 Decreasing role of Subcommittees:

 Earlier Subcommittees of Srikakulam are very active. I hope still it is continuing. Please introspect on the role of subcommittees and strengthen them. This will automatically increase the adoption rates.

 Special focus on Vegetable growers:

 Vegetable growers in Kambara, Sirusuwada etc needs our attention. They are investing considerable amounts on pesticides and fertilizers. We should send some CRPs to support them in adopting CMSA methods. Further we need to establish NPM shops on large scale to cater their needs.

 Training to NPM shop owners:

 I found the selected beneficiaries for NPM shops are interested in establishing NPM shops, but they require training on preparation of extracts and management of pests through extracts. We may need to organize training program immediately.

We need self driven leadership at DCC level. The Biggest challenge for CMSA wing is to strengthening leadership at DCC level.   

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Rain fed Agriculture – Problems

Rain fed agriculture is defined as “areas with less than 25% of assured irrigation and with annual rainfall of 500-1500mm.

Following are the Problems of Rain fed agriculture:

1.     Low gross cropped area: Due to inadequate irrigation facilities and low rainfall, most of the area under rain fed cultivation kept fallow. Only 66% of the area is cultivated every year.

2.     Risk: As the agriculture is depended heavily on rains, risk is increasing. Amount rainfall, frequency of rainfall and untimely rains increases risk in rain fed areas

3.     Crust formation: One of the biggest challenges in rain fed agriculture is crust formation. As there is little or no moisture in the soil coupled with low organic carbon make the top soil become hard for cultivation

4.     Soil erosion: Wind and water are the common factors contributing for soil erosion. Lack of proper erosion control measures leads to loss of top soil. A study in Ananthapur reveals that on average every year 4tons of top soil is eroded due to wind erosion.

5.     Low organic carbon content: All most all rain fed soils are poor in organic carbon content, which is the important factor minimizing the productivity.

6.     Depletion of ground water: Over exploitation of ground water to irrigate crops particularly Paddy is another problem. Absence of ground water recharging aggravates the problem.

7.     Salinity and alkalinity:  Salinity and alkalinity due to accumulation of slats is another factor limiting the productivity levels.