A new arsenal to fight old enemies
by K A Martin
A farmer in Nilampur puts to good use FM radio broadcasts against wild boar raids on her yam and tapioca farm
What do detergent cakes, abandoned compact discs, sardines, FM radio broadcasts and good old garlic have in common?
They are part of a new arsenal being built by farmers across Kerala to fight old enemies that include wild boars and hares; stem borers and rice sappers.
Farmers have come up with new concoctions and found new applications for things of everyday use such as plastic bags, used rubber tyres and old cotton saris, robustly vouched for by a new compendium of farm knowledge.
Running into more than 30 print pages, it is the fruit of an elaborate exercise by Kudumbashree poverty eradication mission, credited with providing the blueprint for the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) and its sub-programme Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP).
Compiling the tome took more than six months and involved 68,000 women farmers in 699 panchayats, who were brought together to share their best practices. With scribes in toe, every word was taken down for posterity.
In its present form, Nattarivu (literally, local knowledge) stands on its own and endorses the need for thinking out of the box and adopting a hands-on approach to common and varied problems.
Stringing up old compact discs using abandoned cloth around a plot can considerably reduce attacks by wild boars, say farmers in Kozhikode. A ‘savoury' mix of cement and fried rice flour is a rat-killer without parallel, say farmers in Wayanad.
They also found that music from mobile phones drives away animals just as cotton balls soaked in jaggery liquid are traps easily taken in by rats.
Yellow boards smeared with castor oil are effective fly traps, say farmers in Thrissur.
Their counterparts in Ernakulam found the slurry from a mixture of sardines and jaggery, seasoned over 45 days, effective against pests in root crops.
Reena Gijo, a farmer in Nilampur puts to good use FM radio broadcasts against wild boar raids on her yam and tapioca farm. She says that the endless chatter on FM radio makes the animals a little cagey. And, the word is spreading.