Can Do, Will Do
Apparao Janapala, owns five acres of land in Govindapuram village, in Vizianagaram District. The hard working 50-year-old farmer mainly grows rice and maize in addition to nurturing some coconut tree orchards. Despite his untiring efforts, he noticed that over the last five years, the yield from his field was steadily declining and the coconuts were stunted and definitely unlike his previous coconut harvest.
In desperation, he increased the quantity of fertilizers and pesticides and started spending between Rs. 3000 – 5000 on pest control activities for an acre of paddy land and Rs.9000 – 10000 on weed and pest management for the coconut orchards, but it did not get him the results he wanted. So when our team invited him to join the cluster level trainings he was excited as he hoped to learn new techniques to revive his crops with low inputs.
The training which included demos, explained about the benefits of Navadhanya technique – a traditional system to help restore soil fertility. And Apparao came away impressed and was bold enough to try the Navadhanya technique as a pre-monsoon intervention on one acre paddy field, which was his “trial” plot. The results were encouraging as it yielded higher than the other plots. He also observed an increase in soil microbes which he knew was good for his crops.
Emboldened by the experience, he adapted the technique to another two acres of land and this time it was his coconut fields that benefitted from the change. He cultivated diverse Navadhanya crops in his coconut fields between the existing trees. Earlier he spent about Rs.15000 – 20000 on fertilizers and pesticides to protect his coconut garden but after shifting to this method, he was spending just half the amount and getting anywhere between 2300 to 2500 coconuts when compared to the earlier crop of 1600 or sometimes 2000 at its best.
“Since the results were encouraging, I decided to continue with this new technique as it required less fertilizers and was kind to the land without robbing me of my profits. I am now able to save about 10,000 on pesticide and weed management” says a content Apparao.
He is now a “model” farmer in his area and he encourages others farmers to experiment with this techniques by sharing his learnings with the others.
Navadhanya was a traditional cropping system mainly practiced by rain-fed farmers in the southern states of the country. This practice is intended to cover the soil for most of the year by sowing two or more types of crops. DRF in consultation with agri-scientists introduced this method in our cluster as a climate smart agricultural practice. Navadhanya cropping system is about meticulous planning and the judicious use of seeds for harvesting of multiple crops from the same plot. Farmers can reap diverse crops like pulses, cereals, oilseeds, green fodder and some vegetables.