Patches of sunshine

AGRICULTURE

Patches of sunshine

The whole of Kervashe village in Dakshina Kannada’s Karkala taluk is slowly moving towards the organic methThe entire village of  Kervashe in Dakshina Kannada  district has taken to organic farming.od of cultivation. Every farmer in the village is aware of the importance of organic farming. When the State government chose a village each from every district to experiment with organic farming way back in 2005, Kervashe was the chosen one. The responsibility of implementing the plan was with the Dharmasthala Rural Development Scheme.

The programme’s Agriculture Director Manoj Menezes and Agriculture Officer Vijaykumar Nagarala took it upon themselves to enlighten farmers about the importance of organic farming. At that point in time, most of the villagers used chemical manure on their crops. Handholding them and convincing them about the importance of organic farming was a huge challenge for the agriculture officers. But in a span of three years, Kervashe village won the first place in the whole of Udupi district when it came to organic farming. A total of 250 acres of land belonging to 71 families in the village were used for organic farming.

The cost of agriculture has dropped drastically thanks to organic methods. The remaining 150 families of the village have also taken to organic farming.

Organic farming has had other indirect benefits for the villagers. Today, they have converted the open space in front of the village school and other spaces into farms. There are as many as 8,500 plants belonging to many varieties on these once barren patches. It was the Horticulture Department that supplied these saplings to farmers. This has ensured that the village is self-sufficient when it comes to organic waste required for agriculture and fodder for cattle. As part of the organic farming drive, vegetables have been grown in the school’s premises, and this has become part of the midday meal scheme in schools. Also, children have realised the importance of organic farming.

The nutrients in the soil have also increased because of the organic waste. The village has a gobar gas plant at its disposal. The introduction of indigenously prepared fertilisers such as jeevamrutha and beejamrutha by Agriculture Officer Vijaykumar has also added value and increased crop produce. Thanks to the pesticides made from onion, garlic and ginger, farmers have saved as much as Rs 45,000 that was earlier spent on pesticides.
Farmers have also taken to dairy farming and fisheries, and have boosted their monthly incomes.

Residents of Kervashe have ensured that their village has a lot of water bodies that can harvest rainwater. Wells that had gone dry for several years have now been recharged. Farmers in the region have been trained on a variety of issues such as soil conservation by way of camps. Then, there are self-help groups in the village that are encouraging farmers to save. Over the last few years, Kervashe has been a huge success story, and every farmer here is seeing the difference. Take the case of Jarappa Moolya for instance. He has grown a variety of vegetables on a plot where he earlier raised a mere five quintals of paddy. He has managed to earn Rs 40,000 from this vegetable patch alone. “I had not realised that the manure in our cattle shed and the ashes from our kitchen stoves have so much power in them,” he remarks.

Organic farming has also meant residents now have better agricultural equipment in their courtyards. All this success has meant that farmers have given up on alcoholism and other vices. The Kervashe model is worth emulating in the state’s many other villages. More than a ray of hope, indeed.

Herb patch in Srirangapatna

This farm in Srirangapatna is home to some rare herbs and medicinal plants. It has been raised by a 70-year-old German woman and her son. Christa Manjrekar who retired from the Microbiology Department of CFTRI has raised this farm, which is lThe Manjrekar farmocated close to the Srirangapatna Fort. She has raised this farm in the organic method of farming.

Manjrekar’s farm has several herbs with medicinal qualities traditionally used in Europe to treat various diseases.

The Manjrekar family has been raising this eleven-acre farm near Srirangapatna’s checkpost ever since 1993. Herbs from this farm are also supplied to restaurants where European cuisine is served. Barbados cherry, Singapore cherry, Mexican butter fruit, mulberry, Italian lime and other fruits make a pretty picture on the farm.

Apart from these foreign fruits, Indian varieties such as mango, guava, sapota, custard apple, plantain, orange, pomegranate, papaya, gooseberry and tamarind are all grown on this farm.

No chemical fertilisers or pesticides are used on this farm, which is fully dependent on organic manure.

Manjrekar’s farm has many varieties of medicinal plants. There is dandelion, which is known to purify blood, there is the Italian variety of basil used to cure lung infections, and arthemisia absinthum used to cure depression and mental problems, Seville lemon from Spain used as first aid in treating wounds. The farm also has a patch where spice varieties are grown, from pepper to clove. The Srilankan variety of spinach called wild spinach, Italy’s rucola, lettuce, flat parsley, turmeric, chives, garlic and other vegetables also draw attention.

Also, the farm is home to tulsi varieties from Italy and Thailand, apart from the local Krishna tulsi. Then, there are flowers such as the yellow lilly which add to the visual appeal of the farm.

The herbs that are grown here are supplied to a large extent to hotels and resorts that have a huge European patronage.

“We grow basil, rucoThe Manjrekar farmla, dandelion, lettuce all used mostly by European customers. There is a huge demand for these herbs and we also make a lot of profits consequently. We   supply these herbs to Ooty, Bangalore and Mysore’s hotels. Twice a week, we take our produce to sell in the organic markets,” explains farm owner Amin Manjrekar, who also has a hotel management degree.

The organic manure needed for the farm is generated by the Manjrekar family at the farm themselves. When pests attack their herbs, they spray organic pesticides made out of garlic and green chillies. Because the farm has a lot of fruit trees, it attracts birds which naturally keep the pests away, explains Amin Manjrekar.

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