Going organic

Going organic

Farming trends

Going organic

The Research Institute of Organic Farming is growing a variety of crops and vegetables using organic farming methods. Ananda Teertha Pyati gives us the details.

It is the era of healthy eating and it is all about going back to nature. Making strides in this endeavour is the Research Institute of Organic Farming. Here, one can see hundreds of crops, grown organically, all in one place. From millets to commercial crops, medicinal to aromatic plants, and vegetables to oil seeds and pulses, the variety is awe-inspiring. The most significant aspect here is organic and sustainable farming.

Most agricultural universities or Krishi Vignana Kendras propagate modern farming methods which include the use of hazardous chemicals and hybrid crops. The fertility of soil decreases considerably by using chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

Organic farming is a simple and easy way of overcoming this. Recognising the importance of chemical-free farming, the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore, has given prominence to research in organic farming methods.

In the UAS’s Gandhi Krishi Vignana Kendra campus, 12.5 acres have been allotted to the Research Institute of Organic Farming for research works. Under the financial assistance of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, a number of researches are being done here.

The scheme of growing many crops in demonstration plots commenced this year, and now more than 120 crops are ready to be harvested. Thousands of people, including farmers and students, visited this place during the International Krishi Mela.

“We have put in a lot of effort to achieve this goal,” says Dr N Devakumar, Principal Investigator of the Institute. He says organic farming is easy and farmers may adopt this method without any fear.

In the era of green revolution, traditional seeds and farming methods moved out from the agricultural sector. And, to facilitate organic farming, it became difficult to collect local varieties of crop and vegetable seeds. Devakumar and his team contacted several organisations and research institutes, and finally succeeded in accumulating varieties of all types of seeds.

“Including Sahaja Samrudha, an organic farmers’ association, we took millets and paddy seeds from many farmers. Traditional varieties have resistance to pest and disease, and grow well even during climatic changes. After collecting seeds from all over Karnataka, we prepared the field and did the sowing,” recalls Devakumar.

One can see a diverse variety of crops here, which is another unique aspect. Finger millet, red gram, cotton, sunflower, safflower, jowar, niger, maize and amaranth have come up well. The vegetable plot has beetroot, tomato, chilly, lady’s finger, cucumber, beans, cauliflower and others.

Rare crops like foxtail millet, brown top millet, proso millet and kodo millets have grown well too.

Apart from food grains, aromatic and medicinal herbs are also there. “We have six types of mint, lemongrass, tulsi, vetiver, lavender, pachouli and many others,” says field assistant Somanath, proudly.

Is it difficult to implement organic farming? “Not at all! You are witnessing here the easiest way of farming,” says Devakumar. The crops have been given liquid manure like Jeevamrutha and they seem to be healthy. “In the first season itself, we got an excellent harvest. What else do we need to show?” he asks.

Thanks to the positive response it has gotten so far, the institute is now planning to sell vegetable seeds to people. There is a fear among people about the side-effects of chemically grown vegetables and many grow vegetables in their own backyards or terraces. For such people, the research institute will provide seeds at a nominal price.

The institute gets many visitors, including the public, and has garnered much appreciation. “Many people are not aware about the plants that provide them food grains. Children residing in cities don’t even know the crops’ names. For them, this is the place to gain some knowledge,” says Devakumar.