Isha’s Efforts to Revive Indian Farming and Agriculture – Part 2
Continuing its efforts to revive Indian farming and agriculture, Isha has created several opportunities last year for farmers, and has many plans to keep up the good work in the coming months.
With Sadhguru’s guidance and vision, Isha has been closely involved in improving farmers’ situations and the general state of agriculture in Tamil Nadu for many years. In the last year, Isha has been focusing on supporting Farmers Producer Organisations (FPO) as a means for small farmers to find better prices for their products and also expand beyond their agricultural role. Isha is working closely with farmers of the Velliangiri Uzhavan Producer Company Ltd. in Coimbatore district to create a more sustainable and beneficial situation for them. Today the organization includes almost 700 farmers. On April 10th, over 500 farmers participated in an FPO meet at the Isha Yoga Center to discuss the outcome of the past year’s efforts, and plan their activities for the next year.
Last year’s results
In the last year, Isha has connected experts with farmers, allowing them to benefit from expert advice and knowledge. Dr E.Vadivel, former Dean (Horticulture) Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Mrs. Seemanthini Khot, former President, Suzlon Foundation and Mr. N Muthu Velayutham, Founder of Covenant Centre for Development, Madurai have shared their experience and know-how with the FPO.
An “Input Shop” was opened to supply quality inputs and raw materials at affordable price to farmers of the FPO.
“Exposure” visits have also been conducted for the farmers to give them a better idea of various market factors and untapped economic possibilities. The first visit took farmers to the Coimbatore District Vegetable Growers Association. The second was to the Erode Precision Farmers Producer Company Limited at Sivagiri and to a private oil mill which produces coconut oil from coconut farm produce. The third visit took 35 famers growing vegetables to the Periyalulam Horticultural Research Institute, and to the Chinnamanur organic banana growers farm and processing unit. The banana farmers shared their marketing strategies and export opportunities. The fourth visit took 50 coconut-growing farmers to the Kasaragod Central Plantation Crop Research Institute, where they learnt a lot about coconut cultivation, yield improvement, crop protection and value-added products.
Next year’s plans
Isha working in tandem with the Small Farmer’s Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC), Dept. of Agriculture, Govt. of India, has been identifying further opportunities to improve the farmers economic prospects through agricultural, marketing and value-added items.
Future plans include training to take soil samples and decide on fertilizer recommendations, training for organic coconut cultivation, training for the usage of bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides and bio-fungicides, the study of profitable alternate cropping system, and also to seek out marketing opportunities for coconut value-added products.
The feasibility of organic vegetable cultivation is also being looked into, as well plans to starts a vegetable nursery to supply quality seedlings to the farmers.
More exposure visits are also planned for the farmers. Isha will also continue to lend, as it did last year, tractors and other heavy-machinery, to farmers free-of-cost.
Several other Isha activities are also focused on improving farmers’ situations. Through the Project GreenHands environmental initiative, Isha pioneers agroforestry initiatives by supporting farmers to plant trees as poly-culture crops on lands that they can no longer even afford to farm, thereby rehabilitating once barren land, protecting the soil from flood erosion, improving the health, happiness and livelihood of farmers, increasing green cover, improving micro-climates and sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The creation of herbal gardens has also been undertaken to ensure that people have access to indigenous medicinal herbs and various types of fruit trees, helping villagers maintain a healthy and nutritious diet.
Isha has also been working with several other NGOs such as National Agriculturist Awareness Movement (NAAM), a national organization working to revive the farming community; Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture (LEISA), a worldwide organization working for the promotion of organic farming; and The Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers Movement founded by Dr Nammazhvar, an agricultural scientist and expert in agroforestry, to create awareness among farmers for better agriculture practices and methods.