Previously Action Fraterna was working on watershed development activities. We were focusing much on chemical fertilizer and chemical pesticides. Recently, we came into contact with different organizations like Centre for Sustainability Agriculture (CSA) Hyderabad, and Agriculture, Man & Ecology (AME). The AME people are advocating LEISA (Low External Input in Sustainable Agriculture) practices.
Our Director is very particular about the introduction of good variety of groundnut because the district happens to be a monocrop district where groundnut is cultivated on around 1 million hectares of land. As that is the largest area, we want to introduce some good varieties.The ICRISAT people have supplied nearly 10 different varieties of groundnut, all of which we have tried. We asked the farmers to select one the 10 varieties, depending upon the trades the different varieties have. Most of the farmers, particularly the women, selected 2 varieties: ICGV 91114 and ICGV 8403. In the second season itself we started the introduction of these varieties in 2003. However farmers could not make out much difference between the ICGV variety & the local variety
We have taken up another challenge. Previously Ananthpur was famous for its millet cultivation. Millets have almost vanished from this district. We reintroduced millets but nobody was interested in growing millet in place of groundnut, so we asked them to try crop diversification. Suppose a farmer owns 5 acres of land. Let him allot one acre for another crop(not groundnut). It may be foxtail millet or Pearlmillet or sorghum.
Another way is that we introduce these crops through inter-cropping with groundnut, as groundnut is sown with 30cm spacing. In between, we will advocate crops which have deeper root systems so that there is not any competition for nutrition; therefore we are advocating pulses like Cowpeas, red gram, field beans & green gram.
we have another programme that is vegetable cultivation. If their house is in a colony and they have little space to cultivate vegetables, we will provide them a packet, which contains different types of seeds, creepers, tubers as well as leafy vegetables so that their nutrition value can be increased. We have shared our experiences with the farmers. Farmers now say that they have enough vegetables for their own consumption and they also share those vegetables with their neighbours & relatives.
After seeing the impact of that, our director extended that scheme even to field cultivation. If they sow groundnuts let them sow some creepers and some vegetables along with the crop so that in the same season they will get the vegetables as well.
We are focusing on food security, nutritional security and introduction of these disappeared millets and pulses in the district as well as reduction in cost of cultivation as well as increase in productivity. That is our multi pronged approach to the problem
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