Sunday, May 20, 2007

Update from Chintamani as of 30.04.2007

Chintamani in Kolar District (This taluk might go to Chikkabalapur District a newly formed district)

As has been mentioned earlier we got a lead to the MLA Sudhakar Reddy and because of this we had the entire Panchayat supporting our cause. Following is the progress made in Chintamani:

Shashiraj has been positioned there for nearly 2 months now and he has been moving around in the villages interacting with the farmers and the labourers

We got a good lead to a Community Based Organisation called as Jeevika (who work on Bonded labour issue, child labour issue and the landless people mostly Dalits). For nearly 6 months we had been faltering not able to move forward at Chintamani because we were not able to identify any organization which had a mass base. With the arrival of Jeevika and Shashiraj almost at the same time took the initiative to a different pedestal itself and we made rapid progress

Village was identified. The Village identified is Dhanamattenapalli in Konapalli Panchayat
A farmer (a former panchayat member) Krishnappa has come forward to offer his ½ acre of land and there is a borewell backup as well

Labourers were quickly identified, the process explained and the labourers enrolled themselves for this. A meeting was again later held with the labourers and a resolution was passed that they would be working on sustainable agricultural practices and that the panchayat should support them with Food for Work program

We met the Zilla Panchayat member from Chintamani, Mr. Shafiquddin who has been very supportive for us and he has assured that the Panchayat would release the food for work for 5 women for 100 days at Rs. 68 per day

We are also exploring the nearby Panchayat lands to take forward the renewable energy initiative where Sweet Sorghum would be grown and biogas generated. This in combination with Solar thermal would be used for the Hybrid energy system pilot for a 5 KW plant

Biomass collection has been started in right earnest and we would be taking the process forward

Monday, April 30, 2007

AID Pittsburgh supports the initiative and the arrival of Shashiraj as a full timer

We started dialoguing with AID Pittsburgh for supporting the initiative to be scaled upto a Neighbourhood unit of 25 acres and AID Pittsburgh has agreed to support the initiative for the Budget lines that have been mentioned in the previous sections

The Arrival of Shashiraj as a Full time Coordinator for the Livelihood Initiative

Increasingly we were feeling the need of a Full time Coordinator to run the day to day processes in the places. Also particularly Chintamani where there was no social processes unlike MGHalli we needed a person who would be stationed in that place, understand the local dynamics, start the social processes, the work, run the initiative for sometime till a local coordinator emerges when it could be handed over. He would then move to another place or keep coordinating all the places where we would be starting the initiative

The next steps in Magadi

Next Steps in Magadi

a) On a parallel front, many farmers were interested in doing this in their plots and approached us. We are trying to evolve a Neighbourhood Unit of 25 Acres taken from 13 farmers. The rough break up of the area would be 15 acres of cereals (ragi/ Rice etc., ), 7.5 acres would be pulses and green manure, 2.5 acres would be pure vegetable plots with 0.5 acres of the vegetable plots as entitlement to the landless labourers

b) 20 landless labourers are being identified now who would be working on these 25 acres. Training would be given to these labourers on sustainable agri methods

c) A collective is going to be formed with an agreement for profit sharing between the farmers and the labourers. The only condition to the farmers is that they should do sustainable agriculture and for the labourers to be with the collective in a stable fashion and not run away if some mason was to call them for some work in Bangalore

d) This year we are also planning to include Katanpalya into the 25 acre neighbourhood unit ( some 5 acres from here) so that the work that has been done till now can be continued

e) Methods are being involved to harvest and harness water using the various watershed techniques. This water is to provide for the protective irrigation

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Update on Magadi as of 28.03.2007

I. Torepalya:

We did continue with our earlier years and we wanted to consolidate our results of last year and revalidate the same.

a)Biomass collection – 360 days
Composting – 76 days
Sowing , Reaping, preparation of natural pesticides and other activities – 118 days
More Biomass was collected this year and the intervention was expanded to more crop area. The Biomass collected has resulted in additional 6 ½ gunthas of composted plot for this year.

b) The first crop of Beans was a moderate success after which Green guard was sown. But there was widespread pest infestation (because of lack of rain) and when we sprayed some natural pesticides the crops were burnt out. This was when we sought out the services of Mr. Krishna Prasad of Green Foundation. The problems were identified and all the women from the 3 places ( Torepalya, Motaganahalli and Katanpalya) were given a formal training on Multicropping, natural pesticides, composting methods etc.,

c) The rains were a total failure in Magadi this year. Since there was some backup water available at this place we could take 3 more crops in a mixed fashion and all were consistently very good

II. Motaganahalli (MG Halli) :


a) One of the first activities at the beginning of the season was to conduct the Microplanning activity in the neighborhood of Motaganahalli to understand the existing practices, outputs, cropping patterns etc.,

b) It was done in the form of household surveys by the local youth group who were given an orientation about the intervention.

c) A format was designed on the lines of the Marathi format devised by Sandhya Edlabadkar in Maharashtra. The youth were then trained to do this survey with Prasanna accompanying them in the initial stages.

d) Some of the Highlights are:

Total number of houses covered: 286

Number of land owners : 116 (40.5 %)
Number of the landless : 170 (59.5 %)
Number of farmers with irrigation facility (only landowners):13
(11.2 % of the land owning households)
Number of farmers with no irrigation facilities (only landowners) : 103 (88.8 %)

Total land possession:
Number of farmers who possess less than 1 acre : 50
Number of farmers who possess with 1- 2 acres : 37
Number of farmers who possess with 2- 5 acres : 18
Number of farmers who possess with more than 5 acre : 11

Number of landowners with cattle : 38
Number of landless with cattle : 17

Number of households with toilets : 131 (45.8 %)
Number of households who use LPG for cooking : 70 (24.5 %)

Crop yield details for Ragi and Toor :

Ragi: Average yield : 6 – 7 Q/Acre (The Avg expense: 2000 – 3000 Rs/Acre)
Maximum yield : 14 Q/Acre
Minimum yield : 3 Q/Acre

Toor : Average yield : 1 T/acre (as green vegetable)
Maximum yield : N/A
Minimum yield : 300-400 kg/acre
(The data is inconclusive as there is a lot of disparity in the data and some confusion with local terminologies for quantities. The survey should be re-conducted with specific farmers to confirm the data about the average/maximum/minimum yields.)

Total number of farmers who possess fallow/unused land: 7
(A total of 7 farmers (17 ½ acres) have left their land fallow. These lands can be used by AID for its interventions)

The number of households covered (286) is only a fraction of the total houses in the village (above 900). We are still considering whether we should cover all the houses or move ahead with our program based on the data of this sample survey.

The labour input of the 5 women since Feb-2006 is as follows:
Biomass Collection – 344 Women Days
Composting – 101 Days
Weeding – 35 days
Sowing , Reaping, preparation of natural pesticides and other activities – 122 days
Total – 602 days
More Biomass was collected this year and the intervention here also was expanded to more crop area. The Biomass collected has resulted in additional 5 ½ gunthas of composted plot for this year
There was a moderate success with Cowpea immediately taken after the first rains
Some of the problems of Torepalya were also seen here after cowpea and then got rectified after the training
We had 2 more vegetable crops taken and very good yield observed. But by the time of Dec 2006, since there was total failure of rains, the borewell of the neighbouring farmer from whom we were borrowing water got dried up and hence we could not continue the work there

III. Katanpalya:

Biomass collection– 341 Days
Weeding – 40 days.
More Biomass was collected this year. The Biomass collected would have been sufficient for an additional 8-10 gunthas.

We also had got the checkdam, which is adjoining the plot, desilted and also deepened to hold more water for protective irrigation but due to the total failure of rains not even a drop of water got collected there which was very unfortunate

There was no access to getting water from anywhere (not even water tanker) and hence nothing could be done at this place this year

Crops Taken up at the 3 places:

a) MG Halli – Cowpea, Beans, Tomato, Bitter Gourd and Chillies. Tomato, chillies and bittergaurd were grown in the composted area prepared last year (Planted in august). About 188kg of bittergaurd has been harvested so far (in about 90 days). Tomato and chilli have started yielding but the final outputs are awaited. (One sad thing is that there has been some theft of crop yield on couple of days). One special point to be noted is that unlike last year this year the produce has been bought over by the local people themselves at a good price without us having to intervene and search for a market in Bangalore.
Cowpea and beans were grown basically as green manure or nitrogen fixers in between the beds of biomass laid for composting or in the uncomposted area (before composting) on an area of 14 guntas. The yield from these was a good bonus (149.5kg fresh vegetable and about 50 kg of dry grains of cowpea and 295 kgs of beans).

b) Katanpalya – Nothing has been sown this year

c) Torepalya – Ridge Gourd, Beans, cluster beans were sown in the 3 guntas of composted land prepared last year in August. There was heavy pest investation in the early stages of the crop itself which we could not manage with organic pesticides, and could not get help from experts at the right time. We had to abandon beans and ridge guard crops.


In Torepalya, we could grow one more crop in December. Three different varieties of beans, carrot and beet root, cucumber and some 3 varieties of greens were grown each in 1 gunta of area. Biopesticides prepared by the women locally was used right from the beginning and there was no pest infestation for any crop. The growth and yield of all the crops were quite good.
Carrot and beet root were sown as mixed crops in alternate rows over an area of 2 guntas together. These seeds were bought from commercial market in Bangalore. The germination of seeds was very bad (beetroot totally off, carrot moderate). In spite of that, about 120kg of carrot was harvested (effectively) from 1 gunta.

One of the beans varieties (bush beans) yielded 73 kg of fresh vegetables and another 2.15 kg of seeds from 1 gunta. Common beans yield was about 22 kg fresh and 1.75 kg of seeds. Double beans variety was all left for seeds because the seed suppliers wanted to buy back the seeds. The final dry weight of seeds is yet to be measured. Cucumber yield was also very good, but most of it was consumed by the labourers themselves even without weighing. Only about 19.5 kg was available for weighing. From the greens, the best yield was of Methi, about 24.5 kgs from a area of one part out of six parts of a gunta (effectively about 120 sft). All these vegetable outputs are in matching comparison with the Chemical method of farming

Monday, February 12, 2007

Trying to evolve a Market

Evolving a Supply chain mechanism for the marketing of these products:

Since most of these farmers with whom we are working will now start to produce more and more organic products we had to think of evolving a marketing strategy and a Supply Chain Mechanism to ensure a fair price for the farmers. Hence a meeting of the producers and sellers of all the various initiatives were called for a meeting on 29th Oct 2006 in Channapatna to coincide with the opening of a local Organic produce collective.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Training on the fundamentals of Organic / Natural Farming on 05.10.2006

Training on the fundamentals of Organic / Natural Farming:

Training session on the fundamentals of the Organic / natural farming was held on 05.10.2006. The training was conducted by Sahaja Samrudhdha, a collective of Karanataka Organic growers who have associated themselves with our initiative this time. The training was conducted for all the 15 women who have been associated with the 3 plots. The local farmers were also invited for the same.

a) The group was divided into 2 and a topic each was given for the groups to discuss i) The crops that are grown in the region and the sources of the seeds whether locally available in the area ii) The cropping calendar in which the various farm activities were to be fitted into the calendar

b) Both the groups presented their discussions and a chart emerged. This chart is now being converted into a poster which should also give the non-literates also an idea of the calendar

c) After this a general discussion was held on the problems of diseases and pests that attack the crops.

d) Later on the causes for these pest attacks were explained to them. The concept of multi-cropping and companion crops for reducing the pest attacks were emphasized

e) Training was given through practical demonstration to the group on the treatment and preservation of seeds, preparation of soil, vermi-compost and other composting methods. They were also given the training on natural nitrogen supplementation techniques using Fish tonic etc.,

f) The group was reassembled and a plan of activity was evolved with the various people agreeing to try out the various techniques

Monday, September 25, 2006

Section - XXII - The People who are involved now

This section is to give the reader of this Blog a fair idea of the sort of people who are / have been involved with this initiative for the present in Karnataka

• Prof Datye: This group is guided by this pioneer in Water Management and sustainable practices who was with the Central Water Commission and other central government departments

• Mr. Renke: A nomadic tribal in Maharashtra who have inspired all of us by showing that agriculture is sustainable even in a dry place like Solapur

• Dr. Vatsala: An IISc professor who took voluntary retirement from the institute to give technical guidance on this initiative

Srinath Shastry – a Software Engineer with HP (one of the first volunteers of AID Boston) who negotiated with his company to work part time on alternative / renewable energy as his focus

• Prasanna Saligram is working on the whole issue of Social Mobilisation for this initiative

Satish Natarajan is a Software Engineer with Wipro earlier but now full time into Organic Farming on Kanakapura Road. He is part of the Organic Growers' cooperative in Karnataka called Sahaja Samrudhdha

Krishna Prasad, those who know Green Foundation, know him very well. He is also part of "Sahaja Samrudhdha" and helping this initiative with crop management and allied issues

Srinivas Badiger - A Hydrologist / irrigation expert who works with Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) is helping us out with the water / hydrology / irrigation issues

CWC - Concern for Working Children is a community based organisation training children on the various vocational activities. They prepare children / youth on artisanship etc.,

Ms. Asha Dinesh and Mr. Dinesh - They are from the Ashraya Hasta Trust who have been having the patience to support the processes since the past 2-3 years.

Mr. Ramamurthy of the Paranga Charitable Trust has been supporting us with financial logistics. He has a school called Paranga High School in Torepalya which we are hoping to use as a place to try out the Education at Workplace agenda of this initiative

• Kamesh Reddy and Anmol Sethy, volunteers of AID Bangalore have recently got initiated into this initiative and have shown interest to continue to work part time on this. They would be concentrating on creation of database, multimedia and other ICT support to this initiative

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Section - XXI - Empowerment in Gram Sabha through Entitlements and the way out of the Crisis of Rural Economy

There is enough and more talk about the need to promote the decentralised Gram Swaraj Concept through the strengthening of the Panchayat Raj Institutions. There is also lots of action / campaign by various organisations to mobilise communities towards empowerment. But what is not understood is that the community would not come forward to realise their Rights till there is sufficient incentive for them to take such an action. So no amount of Philosophical preparation of the people towards their Rights would make them demand their Rights. Only when there is sufficient sense of belonging, ownership etc., to the processes will the community be interested in the same. So if there were to be entitlements created for these communities to enable them to demand more services from the Gram Sabhas ( in a bottom-up approach) will the people come to the Gram Sabha to demand their Rights.
For some organisations which are mobilising communities on the twin issues of NREGA and RTI, this could be a very good case of value addition with the community itself demanding these at the Gram Sabhas. One the other hand there is one more segment of organisations which would want to start some action on NREGA but not getting some starting points. Even for such scenaios if in the first year they are able to do the 0.5 acre and ensure the landless entitlements then they dont need to do any work in empowering them only they need to lead the people to the Gram Sabhas and they would start demanding the same from the Panchayats

The present crisis of the rural economy is not simply a crisis of agriculture. It is also an energy and infrastructure crisis. The farmers are unhappy about the performance of high yielding varieties and are concerned about degrading soils (due to fertilizers), pest and pesticides, prices of agricultural produce, crisis of debt & last but not the least about unavailability of energy on demand. The labour is also not available when required because either they are migrating in the search of work or co-opted in the half heartedly implemented employment guarantee schemes. The other possibilities of generating incomes from rural industries are also very bleak, as they have not gone beyond conventional agro and forest product processing and handicrafts. The development of infrastructure is slowed down because of the cost escalation of energy intensive construction techniques requiring cement & steel & heavy machinery. The debt-ridden State is facing resource crunch while private investment is not forthcoming for rural infrastructure and irrigation since the charges they would demand (for rates of return expected by them) are beyond the paying capacity of the farmers & the rural community.
What we have to look for are the ways in which agriculture (& diversified biomass production as an input for infrastructure, chemicals & energy) & rural industry can be integrated at the household as well as the group level.
Crop diversification is necessary along with shift to low external input and limited irrigation practices. This will call for dispersal of irrigation facilities and as a result the irrigation demand will be small and widely distributed. To meet such demands, energy from renewable sources will be more appropriate.
It is also necessary to avail of advances in technology to produce chemicals from biomass and provide inputs for infrastructure development. Wood-bamboo fiber composites have good potential to use local labour and solar thermal energy for processing.
Recycling wastes to save cement can generate incomes, for this purpose the process energy can be renewable. The dispersal of industry calls for an emphasis on use of renewable resources biomass (bio-fuels, wood-bamboo fibers) and energy in various forms (i.e. solar thermal, wind, hydro).

For dispersal for irrigation facilities & dispersal of industry, we can no longer depend on electricity produced in mega plants and distributed through the grid to serve the distributed power needs with low load factors for irrigation and small industry needs. We cannot meet these needs from petroleum fuels because of the end of the era of cheap oil and gas. The price rise in petroleum fuels makes the diesel and gas unaffordable to the small and marginal farmers in areas poorly endowed with regard to water for irrigation. The shift to renewable has also become obligatory because of the political pressure on the subsidies for diesel and gas that are creating an unbearable burden on national economy.
The key issue that needs to be addressed is to make energy available and affordable to rural & small town communities. Priority should be given to the needs of small farmers, small industry, and unorganized workers as also to income generation through renewable energy production and utilisation. This can happen only when there is participation of this section of society in the policymaking process regarding promotion of biomass based energy production.

Incomes can be generated for the poor in rural areas through entitlements to biomass produced on lands with irrigation facilities developed at public costs. Further, locally produced solar-thermal energy can be used for value added processing in small, dispersed industries. Viability of these income-generating activities can be enhanced by heat used in co-generation to provide process heat for recycling wastes and biomass processing.

In order to sustain the income generation, integration is required of primary production of biomass and use of renewable energy produced locally for processing. The challenge is to use employment assistance and credit concessions (justified on ecological considerations) to reduce the liability for capital costs recovery as well as operating costs. In order to meet this challenge, priority should be given in rural development programme to building of the local bio-resource base. Diversification is also necessary to achieve ecological balance by establishing shallow, medium, as well as deep-rooted vegetation. For wasteland developed at public costs, priority should be given to the choice of species for annuals and perennial trees having high-energy value directly or through value added processing.

It is necessary to avail of advances in technology to make the small-dispersed industries competitive in the rural and urban market. A wide range of products of small industries can compete with the products of large centralized fossil energy based industries. Engineering materials and chemicals using energy saving inputs such as biomass, recycled wastes, and local minerals are always in demand and in a growth economy they have no hazard of market saturation

Optimization of the product mix for energy production from various renewable sources is necessary to reduce the cost of energy generation and upgrade the quality of service for serving various end uses. By developing solar, thermal, wind, small hydro energy sources & their integration with biomass energy should be possible to provide energy to users "on demand" in the desired form i.e. thermal, mechanical, or electrical.
The first step in the restructuring of the energy system is estimation of energy production potential of various renewable resources. This should be followed by need assessment for marginal sections of the rural, small town communities. This will facilitate demand management and optimization of the energy mix from the various sources and thereby matching energy need and availability for everybody including the poor and deprived.

It is essential to motivate energy users and providers to build capability for implementing programs of technology upgradation. Incentives for demand management can be created through differential pricing of energy services and products of process industry. Reorientation of the system of financing through combination of employment assistance commercial and concessional credit also is necessary. The concurrently awareness should be created of prospects of accelerated growth through the necessary restructuring of the development administration and financial intuitions ultimate objective is to make decentralizations work by building capacities to take informed decision at all levels with regarding pricing & terms of capital cost recovery.

Section - XX - The Leasing Company

Leasing Company
By Leasing Company we mean any Organisation (AID and similar Non-Profit organisations) which would step in as a Financier for the various components of the intervention. The Many roles envisaged for this is as follows:
1. For the initial 0.5 Acre land not all farmers might be ready to give it for free, so in order to ensure that the entitlements are assured for the landless, the Leasing Company would negotiate with the farmers. This anyways keep happening in the villages on a regular basis. There could be 2 models either the Company gives leases out this portion of the land ( typically Rs. 2000 per year) and hands it over to the 5 women or make a member of the farmer family one of the 5 people working on the 0.5 acre land.
2. A triangular Arrangement has to be made in which the Leasing company would be a party alongwith farmers and the landless with clear cut details of the entitlements, water sharing etc.,
3. The Leasing Company stands as one of the parties in the Gram Sabha meetings where they would bring in the question of concessional credits to the farmers and negotiate with the Panchayats (MOUs) for the common lands and water sources
4. The Leasing Company has to be the one to give credits for irrigational facilities either as a low interest rate finance or as a zero-interest financing through revolving fund
5. Similarly credits for the Bio-Energy plants etc.,
6. Finally, the Leasing Company acts as a means of Social Control for the evolution of the Collective with a series of Carrot and Stick measures as enumerated in the various sections

Section - XIX - The Budget for the Intervention

A Typical Budget for the Intervention would be as follows (3 years):

Please note the following:

1. The overall coordinator’s cost is divided over more than one place of intervention (Minimum as of now would be 4. The places are: Magadi, Kolar, Chitradurga and Raichur Districts). This overall coordinator would stay at one of these districts for about 2 months to establish the social process, identifying good SHG women, local leadership, local coordinator, identifying the first ½ acre of land, negotiation with the panchayats etc., He would be somewhat the fulcrum who would draw upon the resource persons for social mobilization, irrigation, water balance study, crop management etc.,

2. The item lines (a) and (b) would be subject to change depending on the local panchayat’s response. If the panchayat responds to give us the complete EGA then the amount would drastically change. Districts where there is no NREGA if we get a favourable panchayat then the item lines (a) and (b) would change. For eg. in Kolar because of the Local MLA taking interest we don’t need to worry about the EGA components in (a) and (b) wheras in Magadi we still don’t know the Panchayat’s response

3. Please note that item line (d) is totally as a credit for irrigation which would be used as a revolving fund for the subsequent neighbourhood units

4. Please note that the assistance offered by us to the farmers in the years 2 & 3 is ½ the cost and the rest half is borne by the farmers in a service agreement with the landless women

5. The resource persons’ pool would be for the travel of best practitioners. Again this is considered for all the possible 4 places as of now.

Section - XVIII - What Next?

This section is divided into 2 parts
What next at Magadi?
What next overall in terms of expanding this to other places?
What next at Magadi?
Our experimental plots have caught the attention of the local farmer community in MGHalli. Having witnessed the higher productivity and other advantages of Renke’s method of soil preparation, about 21 farmers have come forward to adapt this method in their farms on atleast 1 gunta land to start with (out of their own resources). The idea now is to verify the Microplanning data as well and then move towards forming a collective.
All the necessary institutional arrangements have to be tried out and put in place to evolve a replicable and scalable institutional structure for the initiative to go on. We had been toying with the idea of forming a local co-operative with all the stakeholders themselves being part of it to take care of the various MOUs etc., But this angle is still being worked out and the final work is not yet heard
Meanwhile, one Ms. Aparna, Bangalore, has shown interest in marketing these fully organic vegetables. She has already started and has been buying the vegetables produced from our plots (on a weekly basis, once in a week right now) and has been giving reasonable prices to the growers. If Ravi and his team can organize varieties, quantity and timing of the crops to give a continuous supply to suit the demand, it can generate a modest income to the workers on the field.
In order to try out mainstreaming we have already started talking to the Panchayats to allocate us the food-for-work component of the program from Javahar Rozgar Yojana or any other for further expansion to the other plots in MG Halli. Recently Ravi (and Prasanna) has approached the local village Panchayat seeking financial support from them to expand the process in the village. The panchayat members have shown interest, have even visited the experimental plots. A video screening of the intervention was done at the Panchayat General Body Meeting. After the screening the Panchayat by voice vote passed a resolution to take this up in the action plan for coming financial year of 2006-2007. Further processes are on

Ravi and Prasanna have also been talking to the women’s self help groups and some interested youth in the village.

Unfortunately, a similar spreading into the village neighbourhood has not happened at Thorepalya. The other proposed agenda of involving youth or school children in our activities there by training them on scientific methods of sustainable farming has not been very successful either. Frequent absenting of the chosen children made the valuable time of volunteers of our team visiting all the way from Bangalore not justifiable. Also, since the nature of activity was such that could not be well programmed time-wise, instead was more dependent on the crop growth stages, it was difficult to engage the children on a continuous basis to retain their interest or participation.
Also efforts would be to consolidate now and repeat the results to establish consistency in the results so that we have something more concrete to take forward.
What next overall in terms of expanding this to other places?

The Chinatamani Development

Meanwhile there has been one more encouraging development. We had presented this program of ours to the Chitamani MLA Dr. Sudhakar Reddy, a very progressive MLA. We discussed about this program and then we were taken to a neighbouring village of Chintamani called as kaavalugaanahalli. In this village we had a preliminary discussion. From this discussion the following positive things have emerged

a) A farmer by name Srinivas has come forward to offer his plot for the start of the work there

b) There seems to be reasonable irrigation sources which could be explored

c) The local panchayat has agreed to support the 'Food-for-Work' component of the program. In fact in a subsequent meeting 2-3 more Ward members of the Gram Panchayat were present and they also wanted to take it to their villages

d) But only thing lacking there is the social process as there is not even a Self-Help Group in that village and we are now thinking of sending Ravi from Motaganahalli for about 2 days a week to do some handholding till the time a local social process is started

Some of the steps as of now thought of for Kolar is

i) Initial 20 Guntha plot with 5 women

ii) We could also start the Sharma model for the rest of the 2 ½ acres of the 3 acre plot identified

iii) We could also initiate the bio-energy plantations in the common lands

iv) Saving in the irrigation cost recovery to be shown as a pilot to the MLA

The Other places

We have initiated dialogue with some of the Community Based Organisations (CBO's) in districts which have NREGA already there. Districts like Raichur and Anantpur (Timbaktu) where there is already some struggles by these organisations to make NREGA work. So as a Value addition to these processes and as a natural next step to this struggle we have been suggesting this initiative to be taken up by them. Most of the social instruments are in place at these places like SHG's, Organic farming expertise etc., There have been some positive feedback by them. We need to evolve some concrete steps now for the same

At the same time I have a 6 acre plot in Maralagondala near Magadi where I would want to replicate Sharma model and similarly Vatsala has about 6 acres of land on Kanakapura Road. We are waiting for the core team to evolve and then we would have to raise funds for the same to be able to take up this work there.

The Evolution of a Core Team to take this forward

We are increasingly moving towards formation of a core team of members who would take this initiative forward. So in that direction we have started identifying the various resource people who have been part of the efforts off and on. We had one preliminary meeting of all such people and discussed in detail of the various components involved and also the possible people who could be involved (mentioned in the brackets)

a) A triangular Arrangement has to be made between the Leasing company ( AID or similar organizations), farmers and the landless

b) 4 kinds of Management has to be done

i) Food security and Livelihood
ii) Bio Energy ( Largely Perennials)
iii) Fodder Management ( with minimal intervention)
iv) Commercial crops

c) Ecosystem potential assessment (quick water availability assessment) to inform the Gram Sabha (NU). This has to be done with the help of hydrological data etc., (Mr. Srinivas Badiger)

d) Entitlements, Min. water entitlement, allocations and rights of Produce to be presented to the NU and other social instruments like the Self Help Groups, Panchayats etc.,(Prasanna)

e) Irrigation structures. Augmentation and efficiency of the irrigation per se (Vatsala alongwith a group of technicians typically diploma holders or from CWC etc., )

f) Organic Crop Management – Livestock, Green cover, fertility, grasslands, poultry etc., (Satish, Krishna Prasad and other friends of Sahaja Samruddha)

g) Energy and Artisanship (Srinath Shastry and CWC alongwith a core technician team which will get trained at the Technical Center put up by Datye at Karjat near Mumbai. There is an 8 acre plot of one of the friends of Datye and he has offered to give his land for this training center.

h) Technical Backup to replicate Sharma and other techniques reg soil / water nutrients (Top rate team by Datye)

i) One person yet to be identified who is good in the SHG formation and also can pick up the Agri techniques to coordinate all the plots at Karnataka level. This person is increasingly becoming crucial for us as this person would be the only person who would be completely full time with no conflicting priorities and would be thinking, eating, sleeping about this initiative

Section - XVII - The Magadi Intervention near Bangalore

After the conceptual Framework explained in the previous sections, it is time to move out to actually what has been done till now. So this brings us to the actual work that has happened in Magadi last year in the direction of the framework explained.
The Actual work at Magadi

1. We had taken 3 experimental plots in Magadi Taluk of Bangalore Rural District. The 3 plots were
Motaganahalli - 1 plot of 20 guntas (1/2 an acre)
Cottonpalya - 1 plot of 20 guntas
Torepalya - 1 plot of 20 guntas

2. We started working on these 3 plots after negotiating with the farmers to partake 20 guntas of land

3. Ideally for this intervention to have come up to the potential, we should have started the work by Feb 2005. Unfortunately by the time we streamlined all the activities last year it was beyond May 2005 and we did not get enough time to prepare the soil etc for all the 20 guntas of land. So we had a restricted intervention.

4. The first year of intervention has given some phenomenal results.

Report of the work in Magadi (Aug-2005-Feb-2006)

As stated in the earlier sections experimental plots were prepared according to Mr. Renke’s method in all the 3 farms (4 guntas in Thorepalya, ~2.5 guntas in MG halli and ~3.75 guntas in K.Palya. The plots were ready for raising crops with well humified compost by Aug-Sept 2005. Unfortunately, the unusually heavy rains this year extending right upto Oct-Nov, never allowed any possible or suitable time for plouging or sowing. Earlier also, the rains were quite untimely, i.e., very much delayed until late july which also disturbed the cropping to some extent.

Crops raised

Ragi was grown in about 16 guntas in MGhalli and in 15 guntas in KPalya. The crop was started in mid Aug. But the crop was totally washed out in K.Palya as there was heavy rain immediately after transplanting. (Attempt was made to sow a second time, but never came up due to heavy rains there after). The crop grew very well in MGHalli (luckily started a week before the rains).

Two options of nutrient inputs were tried for Ragi. Initially 120 kg of FYM was used per gunta during ploughing for the entire land. Subsequently, as option 1, 2kg/ gunta urea was supplied, as this is the normal practice adapted by farmers. 2 kgs of urea was administered in split dosages, 1 kg initially added to the soil and remaining 1 kg as foliar spray once a week, 4 times (to minimize wastage of urea and also soil pollution). As option 2, 30 kgs/gunta of vermicompost was used instead of urea.

Vegetable crops were grown in all the specially prepared (Renke method) plots. Greens (Methi, Dantu, Palak), raddish, and bottle gourd were the chosen varieties. For comparison, the same crops were also grown in control plots (without the special Renke input but with limited or normal inputs). Sowing was done on 15th Nov. in MGHalli and on 6th Dec. in Thorepalya and K.Palya.

For the control plots, 120 kgs/gunta of FYM was used. Only in Thorepalya, 3 different additional control plots were tried for Radish, one with 80kg and one with 120 kgs of vermicomopost per gunta, and the other with 150 kgs of FYM.

For the Renke plots, as reported earlier, the input in the form of compost is 1.2 T of dry biomass. In addition 500kg/gunta of FYM has been used. (This was on the advise of Mr. Renke, as an one-time-input initially not to take chance in case the compost is not fully digested since the objective was to demonstrate the high productivity with organic inputs alone).

In ThorePalya, banana saplings (brought from Mr Renke’s farm) had been planted in 1 gunta of compost-prepared land in July-2005 itself. Mr.Renke, when he visited the farm about 3 weeks later, was not happy with the level of growth and had asked us to discontinue the crop. Accordingly, it was planned to replace this area also with some vegetable crop but because of the heavy rains, the vegetable sowing could not be done till December by which time the banana had grown very well. We didn’t feel like removing them. The yield from this is yet to be seen.

Observed productivity

The growth in the experimental plots was exceptionally good in Thorepalya and MGHalli. Only in K.Palya it was not uniformly good as the composted area was quite disturbed by the overflowing stream throwing lot of sand and washing off the compost. The difference between the special Renke plots and the control plots was also markedly visible. (Table showing all the data will be attached).

Just to note as example, 310.5 kg of radish (fresh wt, total biomass including green leaves) was harvested from 1 gunta in Thorepalya. This is about 45-55 days crop. A very conservative extrapolation—4 crops in a year, 1200kg/yr—48T/acre/yr (of total biomass). Total biomass to radish ratio was measured to be about 3:2. This means about 32T of salable Raddish per year per acre.

OR, the other way, 310.5 kg/gunta in 50 days --- 6.2kg/day --- with a conservative 10% of dry matter ---- 0.62 kg dry matter production per day per gunta. (Best yard stick in vegetable growing being Mr. Sharma from Yavatmal, who is a very successful organic farmer growing vegetables on 30 acres of land for more than 5-6 years, his average is 20T of salable vegetables/acre/year. Considering 240 days of effective growth days in a year, and about 40% useful vegetables---50T of total biomass/acre/240 days, which means 5.2 kg/gunta /day. Considering again 10% as the dry matter, 0.5-0.6 kg dry matter production/day/gunta). To give a comparative picture of the compost plot and the control plot, 6 plants weighed 823 gms in Compost Area and 368 gms in Control Area at the same number of growth days.

The total yield of Methi was 47.5 kgs in 1 gunta (actual crop area is 680sft leaving of the walking paths etc). The growth was not uniformly good in all the beds. (there was shadow of trees on one side). The best growth was 3.43 kgs in a bed of 8’X3.5’ = 28 sft area. (This being a 30 days crop, rough extrapolation would give 123kg/gunta per crop or about 28T/acre/6 crops in a year. Considering about 30% of walking path etc and only 70% actual crop area, this would be about 21T/acre/year. In MGHalli, the yield of Methi was 5.12kg from 2X10’X4’= 80sft and another variety of greens was 7.18kgs again from 80sft.

Only in MGHalli about 80 kg of gourd has been harvested till the time this report was written. But the comparison between compost area and the control area is very clearly seen here. While already 80 kg of gourd has been harvested from the compost area, the fruits have just started appearing after flowering in the control area. Initial measurements during the early growth days also had shown this difference clearly. The growth after 38 days in the control area was not even 40% as that of in the compost area (weight of 3 plants in the control area was 191.8gms as against 549 gms in the compost area). The same was observed even with Radish crop. The control area reached harvest stage about 2 weeks slower than the compost area.

The ragi crop had grown very well (farmers in the neighbourhood were all appreciating). Heavy rains towards the harvest period affected the yield. The final yield was 223kg of Ragi from the 8 guntas of vermicompost area (~ 10 quitals/acre) and 165 kg from 8 guntas of control (urea) area. Initial growth measurements had shown a weight of 423gms/4 plants in vermic area as against 216.5 gms in urea plot after 33 days of growth. (With a plant spacing of 1’X1’ this means 34X34 plants in a gunta, -- 423.5X34X34/4/ 33 days--- 3.51kg/day/gunta growth. Considering about 20% dry matter --- 0.7 kg/day/gunta dry matter production. The grain to husk ratio was also better in the case of vermicompost. (198/101 gms in vermic. Area and 182/116 mgs in urea plot). The total plant wt to the top thene ratio was 1332/350 gms and 1437/330 gms in the two cases. The weight of ragi grains per unit volume was also better in case of vermicompost plot (1115gms/seru and 985gms/seru)
The Social Mobilisation
The Social Mobilisation which is a very important component of this intervention. Actually the intervention started about 3 yrs back but due to lack of social mobilisation and personnel problems we were not able to make any head way. Also it took all of us sometime to understand the overall picture. One important development was the identification of Ravi Kumar of Motaganahalli. Thanks to ICRA and Gayathri we were able to identify a community leader who was involved in various developmental activities in MGhalli. So this intervention caught the imagination of the whole village once we started it as Ravi is being watched closely by the village
A detailed Microplanning on the Natural Resources and its management was done in the second year of the intervention once people were able to see these results and could tally the survey to the field work we have been doing in the village. As I say vry often, a Village survey is the most abused instrument in the communities with all and sundry doing surveys for everything. So a Survey is always a bad idea to start with and thats why we started this Microplanning activity in the second year when we were able to show some results. Actually even this was done in a particpative way. The Local Youth group ( again who are behind Ravi in his community development activities) were given an orientation of the whole intervention and they were made to understand as to where all these would fit-in in the overall context of the intervention and then given a small training on how to go about doing the Microplanning. The Microplanning data so collected has thrown some important observations ( pls. visit this section for more details on this).
A detailed documentation has been done on the various inputs and outputs. This would be sent to interested people on request.
A video recording of the initiative has also be done which can be sent in a CD form to the interested people
The photographs of the intervention taken by many people would be put it in this section shortly. Some of them are uploaded on the AID photogallery by Bisu. They would soon be available here

Section - XVI - What is in it for the Land-holding Farmer?

What is in it for the Farmers?

Naturally we would all be confronted with the question that why should the farmers be part of this Collective? What is in it for the farmers to become part of this? What is the guarantee that they would still stick on as a collective and not go back to their exploitative ways. The Answer lies in a mixture of carrot and stick that is part of this initiative

1. For 20 resource poor households it is necessary to come to an understanding with land owning farmers having irrigation access regarding land use and water allocation. They are expected to allocate 9 Ha of land for food grains & pulse production, in other words they diversify the farming system by shifting from a part of the area presently used for growing cash crops. As an incentive to these farmers in the procurement for PDS (Public Distribution System) there would be a premium of Rs.4 /Kg for local water efficient cereals. This is subject to the farmers adopting sustainable practices with low external inputs and limited irrigation (LEISA). The land owning farmers would not be in the PDS coverage for food grains and they may procure the food grain of their choice or produce it themselves.

In order to achieve viability, the sustainable farming system should have the following features:
· The market prices for pulses are generally quite attractive for the farmers and therefore price support is not needed.
· The motivation would come from availability of irrigation on demand and a reliable energy service at affordable tariff.
· Priority allocation of water and entitlements for concessional credit and assistance for an area of 2.5 acre for fully organic vegetable production. The break-up of this area would be:
· 0.5-acre land to grow organic vegetables obtained on long-term lease (from common property or a leasing institution set up by govt. or land provided by sympathisers). This land will be managed by the Shrama Seva Kendra ( 5 women group) and made available with rights to the produce for a 5 women spearheading group. The lease rent and the rate of irrigation cost recovery should be reasonable and affordable to the women.
· 2-acre land managed through service agreement with the women's group by the landowners willing to switch over to fully growing organic vegetables.

There would be some flexibility in the above break up of 2.5 acres. The area with the Shrama Seva Kendra can be larger and farmers already fully organic vegetables may come to service agreement with the women's group.

2. The next benefits to land owning farmers from above arrangements would be increased productivity with reduced chemical input cost.

3. They would also avail of the benefit of employment assistance (EGA) for some of the on farm activities necessary for land development, provision of organic inputs. This category of assistance is essential to overcome the losses during the shift to sustainable and diversified farming system from prevailing input and water intensive practices.

4. Since the farmers are not credit-worthy but SHG's are the most credit worthy institute, the 20 women group which are part of the SHG's will bring in the credit for the Protective Irrigation to the farmer and their cost recovery is already explained in the earlier sections

5. They would also get the advantage of the Renewable energy produced as part of the collective to reduce their dependence on the irregular grid power supply

The Stick would be that if the Farmers resort back to their exploitative ways by denying the entitlements of the produce ( as they might argue that the labour cost has anyways come from EGA which is anyways public money) they would stand to lose heavily from the lack of irrigation, better yields and more than anything the skilled labour that is coming to them at a concessional price for them to convert to organic

A clear indication of a preliminary assessment is that the farmers stand to gain substantially through the shift to diversified cropping and organic vegetable production and LEISA. Monopoly procurement price of cotton, various input related subsidies unmetered heavily subsidized electricity and area based irrigation tariff have failed to alleviate the farmers' distress. In the proposed approach the focus is on cost effective use of employment under NREGA terms along with credit concessions justified on ecological considerations. In the following paragraph details are furnished regarding assistance and credit and their impact on employment and income generation. Enhancement of productivity and water use efficiency concurrently with saving of input cost. It can also be seen that the credit concession and additional employment assistance would very well be balanced by the social acceptance (by the poor as well as land owners) of withdrawal of subsidies for external inputs, irrigation, energy