Adopting innovative organic practices and helping other farmers

Santosh Nahne, a 38 year old is a small and innovative farmer of Donodo village in Kalamb block of Yavatmal district in Maharashtra state. He farms over 3.75 acres of land that is irrigated by a well. He also collectively farms over 7 acres of land jointly with his brother who stays with him. He looks after 6 members of his family that includes two children.

Santosh had great affinity for farming since childhood. After completing his higher secondary school, he opted and completed his diploma in horticulture. Throughout his educational period, he aspired to do something innovative with farming. He saw most of the farmers of his village followed the same cropping system and practiced conventional methods. “There is less interest among farmers to innovate and improve their conventional practices. All follow the same path”– says Santosh with a sigh.

Though aspiring to adopt innovative practices, Santosh too initiated farming with conventional practices, due to lack of family support. He cultivated soybean, cotton, and red gram during the Kharif season and during the Rabi season, he cultivated wheat and Bengal gram as other farmers of his village.  However, Santosh always had an urge to adopt innovative practices in agriculture.

Santosh got an opportunity to associate with one of our project on climate change project. He participated in the training session on organic farming. He quickly understood the concept and learnt different organic farming practices.  He found that these practices were new and certainly improve his farm. In the Rabi season, Santosh was selected to develop Kudrat (improved wheat variety) seed plot with organic practices. “Developing seed plot was new for me. I was given research variety “Kudrat” from our partner organization and I had to multiply it through  their support and guidance. The multiplied seeds were to be distributed to other farmers, which will help the local farmers to have quality seeds and reduce dependency on market”. “I had sown 20 kg of Kudrat variety seeds and I harvested 400 kg of wheat seeds. Apart from my own seed requirements and household consumption of 200 kg, I have returned 40 kg of seeds to CSA (our partner organization) and distributed remaining seeds to 6 other farmers”. –shares Santosh.  During the process of seed development, Santosh invited other farmers to his field to share his experiences. Motivated with Santosh farming practices, 5 farmers of his village have adopted organic farming practices in line with Santosh suggestions.

Application of jeevaamrut (organic fertilizer) in wheat field
Santosh applying jeevaamrut (organic fertilizer) in his wheat field
Bio pesticide
Santosh preparing bio pesticide

In the year 2011, our partner organization organized a convergence meeting with government officials. Santosh was keen on taking up sericulture as a new crop over an acre of his land with organic practices. District official from sericulture department visited his farm and registered him as one of a farmer in government sericulture program. Santosh later attended 15 days of in house training session on sericulture that was provided by sericulture department. Later, in June 2012, Santosh planted mulberry plant over an acre of land through organic practices. “My plants are now 3.5 feet tall and I will be earning Rs. 25,000 from my sericulture plot”– says Santosh with a smile.

sericulture field
Santosh in his sericulture field

Donoda village is cluster focal point village. Aid for change’s partner organization has installed Rain gauge and Stevenson screen to measure daily rainfall; humidity and air temperatures respectively. Santosh along with other farmers keeps daily record of rain gauge and Stevenson screen. “We record the data every day in a register. We are able to understand the air temperature and rainfall pattern. This will help us to plan for timely seed sowing. We also plan to keep other details like pests and insect emergence at different rainfall and air temperatures”- says Santosh along with other farmers in a village meeting.

Recording daily air temperature
Santosh(1st from left) with villagers recording daily air temperature

Santosh in 2013 has also taken up nursery development for setting up horticulture plantation for other farmers. He has prepared 5500 polybags units of different horticulture plants. “We will distribute 10 plants to each farmer of different village so that other farmers can plant horticulture plants in their field”- says Santosh. It will help other farmers to develop additional source of food, income and biomass for soil nutrients.

Horticulture nursery plot
Santosh in his horticulture nursery plot

Adopting innovative practices distinguishes Santosh in his village. “My family was very apprehensive when I started organic agriculture. They feared that we would be in a great loss. But, now my family is happy and assist me in farming”. – Says Santosh. He further adds “Our family had huge outstanding loan of Rs. 80,000. I had repaid most of it and today I have an outstanding loan of Rs. 40,000. I will be able to repay it in coming 2 to 3 years and start saving from my farming”.

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