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.