Agriculture Development – Shamayita Krishi Kendra
Agriculture sector is still now a dominant area in rural Bengal as far as livelihood aspect is concerned. Shamayita Math also believes agriculture as primary occupation of the people it serves and carries out all activities with utmost importance. The agriculture development activities to the Math are carried out under the banner of “Shamayita Krishi Kendra (SKK)” – a centre dedicated to promote sustainable livelihood through direct intervention in agriculture activities of poor and marginal farmers as well as allied activities. The organisation tries to be with the farmer for securing their livelihood through Improved agronomic practices, Climate change adaptability, Promotion of alternative crops including high value crops and initiatives for marketing.
The Shamayita Krishi Kendra is manned by agricultural experts. This unit works in more than 150 villages spreading across 7 blocks of Bankura district with the objective of increasing wisdom and knowledge on scientific agriculture among the poor farmers. It serves in the areas:
- Improved agronomic practices for food security and income enhancement
- Transfer of technology
- Soil and water conservation
- Soil testing
- Sreerohi and Seed production
- Skilling Rural Youth (SRY)
- Contract farming with companies including MNC
- Marketing initiative
- Research and Development
- Women empowerment
Improved agronomic practices: Paddy is the main crop under improved agronomic practices. Improved paddy is the first step to move forward the farmer beyond the traditional practices of paddy cultivation. In this cultivation, the organisation is trying to break the conventional way of practices through various technical measures like soil testing, proper seed selection, seed treatment, seedlings raised in nursery bed, line transplantation, appropriate inter-culture operation, plant protection and nutrient management. By this technique people first experience that it is possible to enhance the productivity by adapting something different in their paddy cultivation practices. This practice is not only enhancing the productivity but providing confidence to the farmer to move forward. So far near about 1800 farmers have adapted this new cultivation.
Soil and water conservation: Shamayita Krishi Kendra undertakes lots of activities related to soil and water conservation. Actually, the major part of the district is characterized by undulating topography. The average slope of land varies from 0.4% to 10%. Annual rainfall varies from 1100 mm. to 1400 mm. But it is erratic and 80- 85percent of the total rainfall is received during the three to four months monsoon period from June to September. Moreover, as the land is sloppy and undulated, maximum of the rain water escapes through surface run off to the Gangetic plane area. Heavy surface run off always accompanied by high soil erosion reduces area available for cultivation. The area is entirely mono-cropped except few patches with assured irrigation. With this backdrop, Shamayita Krishi Kendra intensifies activities related to rain water storage and prevention of soil erosion through excavation of various water harvesting structures, drainage line treatment, establishing orchard in uncultivated land. Through this intervention organisation can serve many aspects of agriculture development. It increases cultivable area through horizontal expansion. Creation of water harvesting structure enables in new area to come under cultivation due to increased availability of water. It helps in vertical expansion by converting mono cropped area into multiple cropped area also.
Soil Testing: Today, Indian agriculture is dominated by excess use of chemical fertiliser leads to higher cost of production as well as harmful side effects for the soil. Poor farmers are always in short of fund for investment on whichever agricultural activities they have and top of that over usage of fertiliser also leads a wasteful expenditure as well as environmental pollution. In that case soil testing helps in assessing the capability and suitability of land for agriculture and quantifies the soil constraints. Shamayita Krishi Kendra is equipped with soil testing facilities. It has both static and mobile soil testing unit. Mobile soil testing van is used to test soil status at farmers’ field only. It offers all most all types of tests required for all the crops grown in local area. It provides sound information and recommendation of correct dosage of fertilisers to be integrated with organic manure to improve soil health and quality in order to increase the productivity per unit area. The laboratory is equipped for testing soil Ph balance, Electro conductivity, organic carbon, Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P), Potassium (K), and micro nutrient like Zinc (Zn), Ferrous (Fe), Cupper (Cu), Manganese (Mn) and Boron (B). This activity is done under National project on Soil Health Management.
Sreerohi and Seed production: Sreerohi – A brand name given by our founder Reverd Prabhuji with the dream of connecting our farmer with mainstream agriculture. Main role of Sreerohi is to make liaising with State Seed Corporation (SSC), National Seed Corporation (NSC) for seed multiplication through local farmer. Sreerohi gets foundation seeds from the corporation and gives it to the farmers for multiplication along with technological support. After harvesting, Sreerohi gets back all those produce as seeds and pay them higher than usual market price. That way Sreerohi provides the seed producer assured marketing support as well as they make available certified seeds to the farmer for better yield.
Floriculture: Shamayita Krishi Kendra also supported many farmers on floriculture by providing them technical know-how and market information. The organisation is able to show many farmers a new avenue for securing livelihood in agriculture sector. Around 40 farmers in Bishnupur area supplies the total marigold in and adjacent area and they all have been trained up by SKK.
Skilling Rural Youth: Agriculture sector is unable to absorb the full workforce in rural India with increase in population. Day by day it is becoming tough for the sector to provide meaningful engagement to the young generation. Disguised unemployment is increasing at an alarming rate for this age group. The only option is to shift towards non-farm sector but neither have they had right kind of orientation nor have enough information to get employed to this sector. In order to explore possibilities for enhanced employment opportunities in non-farm and allied sectors, Shamayita Krishi Kendra provides a different kind of capacity building programme which focuses on life skills and links them with local employment opportunities.
Transfer of Technology: Shamayita Krishi Kendra is in the process of transferring skills, knowledge, technologies among its beneficiaries to make them competent to survive by opting agricultural activities as profitable enterprise. Some of them are net house cultivation, application of mulch, drip irrigation, nursery under poly tunnel, seedling raised in coco-pit for high value vegetable cultivation. Net house cultivation is done for preventing unwanted insects, survive through undesirable climate like hailstones, storms etc. Now-a-days all the nursery beds are prepared under net house in order to get healthy seedlings.
Mulching is applied to preserve soil moisture by protecting evapo-transpiration loss as well as to control undesired weeds. It keeps weeds out to help prevent root competition for plant nutrition.
Drip irrigation saves water and fertiliser by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of many plants at a time through a network of pipes. The system supplies the exact amount of water required by the plant there by avoid excess water usage for any cultivation which is very important for place like Bankura.
Seedling raised in coco-pit is also have a number of advantages like healthy roots, fast growth of good quality crops helps farmers in getting high market prices for the crop.
Contract farming with companies: Shamayita Krishi Kendra is also facilitating poor farmers to become competent for contract farming with companies including even MNCs. By God’s grace, entire region of Bankura is conducive for seed production and numbers of farmers are opting for Hybrid seed production through contract farming. Crops like tomato, bitter gourd, Lady’s finger and amaranthus seeds are being produced by the local farmer. This is a high investment cultivation with full of high tech process including application of drip irrigation, mulching, net house, controlled pollination and emasculation etc. An important part of the activity is to organise capital for initial investment and bank loan is the only option for meeting the purpose. Good numbers of farmers are becoming capable of performing the entire action with direct intervention of Shamayita Krishi Kendra and enjoying high return from this venture.
Market led extension based on vegetable cultivation: Small and marginal farmers in rural Bankura grow vegetable in both khariff and rabi season with support from SKK. Farmers require help not only in reducing production cost and increasing volume of production but also required to get optimal price for their produce. Due to a large production during peak season, individual selling of the produce often leads to lower bargaining capacity and realisation of lower price. Vegetable being a perishable commodity, many a times it is found unsustainable with less or no profit margin due to lack of proper marketing facilities. With this background SKK has put an effort to federate farmers into collection centers. This is a place where middlemen come to buy the production from the producers which in turn, can be called as make shift whole sale market. Most important point is producers have an influence on the price in this market and thus to get fair and reasonable return from their produce.
Research and Development: The main role of our R & D unit is to assess adaptability of different variety in the local area. ICAR and AICPR is the parent organisation from where these seeds come for testing in local laboratory and if it succeeds then only it has to be sprayed among the local farmer through our own brand “Sreerohi”. Mainly aromatic rice, non aromatic rice, pulses and oilseeds are being given for trial. Seed production research is done to standerdise the best practices for seed production of new crops before involving the farmer for commercial cultivation. Bitter gourd, capsicum and lady’s finger are this kind of crops which are to be introduced to the farmers later on.
Animal Husbandry: Shamayita Krishi Kendra intervenes in Animal Husbandry area mainly to check the mortality rate of the cattle, by organising various vaccination camps. Due to improper vaccination schedule the mortality rate of the cattles are very high. Apart, these vaccination camps not only check the mortality but it also support for betterment of the health of domestic animals. The following vaccination camps are organised
- FMD: to prevent foot and mouth related disease.
- HS & BQ: To prevent Hemorrhagic septicaemia and black quarter disease.
- PPR: To prevent PPR related disease.
- DEWORMING: To prevent form overeating disease, technically known as “ENTEROTOXEMIA”
Shamayita Krishi Kendra is promoting a scientific goat rearing activity which is much needed in this area particular to have a steady flow of income as well as to meet the contingency need of a poor family. Shmayita Krishikendra recommends a set of practices for proper management of the activity. Following are the different steps to adopt for improved goat rearing practices:
- Introduction of healthy male goat (Buck) for cross breeding to have healthy kid
- Establishing low cost scientific shelter for goats
- Timely vaccination to prevent disease and check mortality
- Timely de-worming for maintaining growth
- Supplementary vitamins and minerals to pregnant mother to have healthy kids
- Introduction of weighing machine and market information to have proper bargaining power of the owner