A step towards sustainability
Poornima Kanahalli, Sep 26 2017, 0:24 IST
Embracing the organic route: Rural women preparing 'ghana jeevamrutha', a biofertiliser.
In the age of cooperative federalism, farmers in the villages of Ajjampura hobli in Tarikere taluk, Chikkamagaluru district have taken cooperative farming to a whole new level. They are fast changing the perception of rural development by keeping scientific sustainable rural development as their motto and ensuring active participation of the farming community.
This form of development came as a blessing in disguise to these drought-hit villages through the coming together of Shivaprasad, a BBM graduate, Lohith and Kiran, both software engineers and Nagarajappa, a retired engineer. These like-minded people formed a team with the dream of empowering the local communities through various agricultural practices and agro-based activities which could lead to self-sustenance. This dream took flight when they established Mythri International at Katinagere village a year ago.
As their aim was sustenance of farmers through better livelihood opportunities, the organisation began by first imparting vocational training and scientific methods of agricultural practice to the villagers of Naagaraala, Jodihochihalli and Kabballi. As these villages have been hit by severe drought in the past two years, the organisation decided to focus on dairy farming as a viable activity.
To facilitate the process, the organisation helped interested farmers in purchasing 50 cows of the Gir breed from Gujarat. A centre was set up with the required infrastructure to help collect milk on a daily basis from the farmers.
The farmers were given trainingto
enhance milk production and increase their earnings through value addition of milk, cow urine and cow dung. Local people engaged in the activity enthusiastically and it has been reflected in the quality and quantity of milk production. The ghee produced here has a lot of demand from consumers staying in places such as Mysuru, Hassan and Hyderabad despite minimal marketing. Milk, butter and buttermilk are also in high demand locally.
Apart from these, the organisation makes various organic products like oils and traditional medicines with gomutra (cow urine) as the base. Additionally, bath soaps, dishwashing soaps and phenyl are also made using cow milk and soap nut. Such activities are bringing additional income to the farmers who are now aware of the prospects of value addition.
Another organic product that has been gaining popularity steadily over the years is ghanajeevamrutha, a traditional organic fertiliser in form of balls. The sales of these balls are in demand in the black pepper growing belts of Hassan and Chikkamagaluru. The training to prepare ghanajeevamrutha balls is provided to the farmers by experts at Hebri village in Agumbe, Shivamogga district. As many are hesitant to touch cow dung, Mythri has come up with cow dung biscuits as well. These cow dung biscuits are mixed with jeevamrutha before applying to plants and these biscuits have been found to be useful for kitchen gardens.
When asked about their expansion plans, Shivaprasad said that despite positive responses from local people and product test groups, they want to improve their product further before venturing into metro cities.
Woman empowerment has seen a major boost here because many are now finding self-employment through Mythri. They work from home for the organisation. “Our standard of life has improved and we are able to get some income despite the drought situation in the region,” say Latha and Sharadhamma of Naagarala village.
The founders of Mythri International are exploring various ways to achieve sustainable livelihoods for farmers. Apart from encouraging dairy farming, they have also taken up organic farming with farmers based in Tarikere and Kadur taluks. Here, they have been growing 19 varieties of vegetables. These vegetables are supplied to local schools and to a few apartments in Bengaluru. They say that their goal here is to cultivate the habit of healthy eating in people.
Gandhiji once said, “The future of India lies in its villages.” The promising efforts in these villages through organic farming is an example of this. With the rise in agro-based industries, this decentralised village development model by Mythri International has a lot more to contribute in the future. To know more, visit www.mythriinternational.in or call 9632755322.