13 Apr 2017
Adopting the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, vegetable farmers from East Godavari district have proved that high yield can be achieved even without using chemical fertilizer and pesticides.
In a district where seasonal vegetables are being cultivated in an extent of about 9,000 hectares (22,240 acres) throughout the year, input costs remained a major challenge for many farmers, apart from price fluctuations and absence of warehouses.
Changes in vegetable cultivation methods are being made by younger generation of farmers who have taken up cultivation in the rural pockets, particularly in the upland areas where scanty irrigation facilities are prompting more farmers to switch over to horticulture.
“If you observe the vegetable gardens, funnel traps and stick pads have replaced the age-old scarecrows here. These traps and pads are attracting the pests, providing us a bailout from the pesticide costs,” says 25-year-old Makineedi Srinivasa Rao from the remote village of Krishnapuram in Thondangi mandal. Like many other farmers from the village, Mr. Rao too cultivates two crops a year – paddy as the first crop and vegetables for the rest of the year.
His neighbour Venna Padmanabham has decided to try drying of chillis. “The new practices have reduced the input costs by 50 per cent. Though we are apprehensive initially, the results are quite encouraging,” he admits.
At Simhadripuram village of Kirlampudi mandal, 22-year-old Kakileti Suresh is cultivating lady’s finger in his half-acre holding as the second crop. “Instead of the chemical fertilizer and pesticide, we are now using neem oil and bio fertilizer. Besides reducing the cost, we are able to get visibly healthy produce,” says the college dropout.
Mangiturthi village in Pithapuram mandal is full of vegetable farmers, who cultivate almost all the vegetables that are available in the local markets. “Because of the initiative taken up by the Reliance Foundation, we are able to make the strides towards the new mode of cultivation. The benefit is in the form of low input costs,” says Allimalla Narayana Murthy.
“We have been supporting 580 small and marginal vegetable farmers covering 500 acres in 24 villages spread in 8 mandals of East Godavari in the first phase to reduce the use of pesticides in vegetable farming,” explains Srinivas Kilari, programme integrator.
The Foundation spends ₹2,700 per acre whereas the farmer has to contribute ₹500 to get the IPM benefits. “This initiative not only reduces the cost of cultivation, but also helps consumers to get healthy and quality vegetables,” he points out.