A village in Bihar switches to organic farming, sets an example

More than half the population living in Kedia village, which is 20 kms from Jamui district in Bihar, has switched to organic farming

Daya SagarDaya Sagar   6 Nov 2019 9:47 AM GMT

A village in Bihar switches to organic farming, sets an example

"Nobody would like to eat poison. Thanks to organic farming, people living in my village are eating chemical-free food. It also helps us in saving our money," said Sumant Kumar, 42, a farmer, who lives in Kedia village in Bihar. Kedia village is the first village in the state to switch to organic farming.

Sumant Kumar has been doing organic farming from past five years. He told Gaon Connection that excepting the first year since he adopted organic farming, he has been making profits. His input costs have reduced by 80%, while the production has risen 100-110%.

Kedia village, which is 20 kms to the North-East of Jamui district in Bihar, comprises 100 families. Of these more than 50% farmer families have switched to organic farming. They are practising organic farming in nearly 45-acre land of this village. The families which have not adopted organic farming so far are thinking about adopting this farming. Besides that, people living in nearby villages of Kedia are too switching over to this farming.

Sumant Kumar told us that people from various parts of the country visit their village to understand the benefits of using organic farming. Many foreigners also visit their village. He also told us that vegetables, fruits, crops of Kedia village have acquired a unique identity across the country. Moreover, people are also getting good value for their vegetables in the local markets.

Vijay Yadav, 48, who lives in the same village, said: "Organic farming helps in protecting the soil. While chemical farming acidifies it. If we have to protect our soil, then we should adopt organic farming." Vijay told Gaon Connection that he hasn't yet adopted organic farming but would start practising it with the help of financial assistance he was given by the government.

These villagers organised a festival to celebrate organic farming.

These villagers organised a festival to celebrate organic farming.

Recently, 'Jashn-e-jaivik' -- a festival to celebrate organic farming -- was organized in this village. It attracted people from various parts of the country. Along with Prem Kumar, who is the agriculture minister of the state, many agricultural officers, environmentalists from across the country, and thousands of farmers from nearby villages came to attend this festival.

Prem Kumar while addressing the festival said that in 2016, the state government made organic corridors along the bank of river Ganga in 12 districts of the state. He also said that the organic farming model of Jamui would soon be adopted by complete Bihar. "For this, state and centre are providing support to the farmers," said Prem Kumar adding, "Organic farming has been spread over 35,000-hectare fields within three years in the state."

To discuss various issues related to organic farming farmers in this village have started a committee -- Jaivik Mati Kisan Samiti. Sunil Kumar, 26, who lives in the same village, told us that the name of the committee itself suggests that they have to keep the soil alive.

Sunil told us that many agricultural officers and volunteers of Greenpeace -- a non-profit environmental organization, joined the committee meetings and discussed the modern methods to practice this farming.

Farmers of this village use Bijamrita, Jiwamrita, Neemamrita, and Amrit Pani to get rid of insects and pests in the crops. These are the organic insecticides and pesticides that are prepared using cow dung, neem leaves, soil, jaggery, gram flour, leaves of peepal tree. The cost of making these organic pesticides is minimal.

There were many farmers in this village who couldn't adopt organic farming because they didn't have more than 1-2 cows.

There were many farmers in this village who couldn't adopt organic farming because they didn't have more than 1-2 cows.

Upendra Yadav, 45, who lives in the same village, said: "Our village has more than 3,000 native cows. This helped people here in adopting organic farming. Cow dung of native cow is very important for sustainable organic farming. Cow dung helps in making vermicompost, organic composts, and many other organic insecticides. It is also used in making biogas. It helps in saving electricity."

Ishtiaq Ahmed, who is working with Greenpeace to spread awareness of organic farming among farmers in Kedia village, told us that they have served as a bridge between farmers and the government. He said: "With the help of many governmental schemes besides MNGREGA, Swachh Bharat Mission, Jaivik Krishi Yojana, we were able to make organic farming easier and successful in this village. These schemes have helped us in setting up vermicompost beds, animal sheds, biogas plants, Eco san toilets, and wells. All of these were important is we had to boost organic farming in the village."

With the government assistance and subsidies given to people in this village, more than 250 vermi-beds, 22 biogas plants, 40 wells, 15 cement animal sheds, and 20 eco san toilets have been set up here. The agriculture department provides 50 per cent subsidy to the farmers over the total input cost to set them up.

More than 250 vermi-beds have been set up in this village to boost organic farming.

More than 250 vermi-beds have been set up in this village to boost organic farming.

No Cow, no farming

Despite benefits, there are several limitations of organic farming. Cows play an important role in organic farming. We met many farmers in the village who couldn't adopt this farming because they didn't have more than 1-2 cows.

"I have only one cow. This is why I couldn't start organic farming. I don't have enough money to buy another cow," said Pinky Devi who was busy harvesting crops in her fields. "Those who don't have animals, how would they do organic farming?" asked Pinky, who lives in the same village.

However, Sumant said that there is hardly anyone who doesn't own at least 8-10 cows. He said, "With the help of eco san toilets we have been using human's excreta to make compost. We produce grains in our fields, we eat them, and then we give it back to the fields."

Explaining the benefits of eco san toilets, Sumant said that human's excreta improve the fertility of the soil. And this is why they have been using eco san toilets. "In this, urine and excreta is stored in two different tanks. To ensure cleanliness, soil and ash is sprinkled over the faeces. After a year, this becomes compost. We then remove it from tanks and use it as compost in our fields."

However, many families in the village don't have eco san toilets but they are practising organic farming. Upendra Yadav believes that like people in their village gradually adopted organic farming; they would soon start using eco san toilets. At present, of 100 homes in the village, only 20 are using these toilets.

The villagers use water from the wells for irrigation. They don't feel the need of using bore wells.

The villagers use water from the wells for irrigation. They don't feel the need of using bore wells.

Sumant told Gaon Connection that adopting organic farming has not only increased fertility of their field's soil but also has improved water level in the village. He said, "In many parts of Jamui district, you would get water at a depth of 200-250 feet. But here in Kedai, you would get water at a depth of 20-25 feet. There are more than 40 wells in our village. They help us in irrigating our crops. We also don't feel the need of bore wells."

Satendra Yadav, village local informed us that earlier, it would cost Rs 5,000-6,000 to them. "We had to pay irrigation costs as well. But in organic farming, we have to irrigate crops only for two or three times. This reduces our input costs. Also, we don't have to pay for insecticides in this farming."

Dumarkola village, which is 20 km from Kedia village, is also adopting organic farming. Niranjan Kumar, who lives in Dumarkolam told us that like farmers of Kedia village, they too have started adopting organic farming. He said, "Thirty farmers in our village have formed a committee. They have been doing organic farming in 30-acre fields from past one year and are earning profits from it. This is also protecting their fields from becoming barren."

Similarly, Ratan Yadav, 64, who is a farmer in a neighbouring village to Kedia, informed us that the farmers in their village are adopting organic farming. He also informed us that recently 10 people have switched over to organic farming.

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