Pintoo, an inspiring farmer

46789_10151395843964383_847585757_nPintoo is an inspiring farmer from Sunderbans who has trained about 1000 farmers in techniques of sustainable organic agriculture. Anandabazar Patrika (a Bangla daily newspaper) wrote about Pintoo’s role in spreading sustainable agriculture in the area. AID has been working with farmers in the Sunderbans after Cyclone Aila salinated the land in May 2009 and Pintoo has been one of the main coordinators and trainers in Mathurapur II block for the sustainable agriculture initiative.
July 20th Anandabazar Patrika: click here
Pintoo Dreams of Turning the Entire Block to Organic Farming
Pintoo Purkait from Kasharipara of Paschim Jatar island is 34 years old and has finished class X. The farmers in the area know him as the organic teacher. According to the government agriculture department, he trained close to 1000 farmers to take up organic agriculture. Pintoo has also encouraged and supported landless families to grow vegetables around their homes in jute bags and wicker baskets. Pintoo works in the Kankandighi and Nagendrapur Gram Panchayats where 1700 hectares land is cultivated organically out of a total of 5300 hectares – almost 1/3rd. This ratio is much higher compared to other Panchayats. This area has bypassed others in growing rice, vegetables, pulses and fruits sustainably.
Pintoo is a self motivated farmer. This year the block agriculture department awarded him Krishi-Ratna for being an exceptional farmer. Of the Rs 10,000, he has spent a significant proportion in buying books about agriculture and he intends to spend the rest towards his work on sustainable agriculture.
Sunil Maiti from Mondolpara,Mrityunjay from Girpara utilize most of their land to do organic farming. According to them – sustainable farming is giving them more producing more at lower costs hence greater profits. More farmers are being drawn to it. After Cyclone Aila in 2009, water from the sea salinated the land. Pintoo started working with Mukti, a local NGO, to rehabilitate the land using organic inputs.
The agriculture department concedes that the work being done by Pintoo should have been done by the Krishi Proyukti Sahayak (KPS). But there are very few KPS. The agriculture director of Mathurapur-II block, Malay Roy says, “There should be 27 KPS in this block, but actually there are just 3. Hence we have to rely on people like Pintoo.” He claims that of 19,000 hectare land in the block organic farming is done on 3800 hectare. Five years ago, it was 750 hectares.
Pintoo says that,” In 2009 the agricultural department had trained few farmers. Most of the farmers did not pay much attention to the training but I would discuss these issues every week with the farmers in our local club. I earned their trust by showing them the results on my field.” Now Pintoo has the responsibility of holding monthly training and going to the farmers on a daily basis to resolve problems. He explains to the farmers how chemical fertilizers and pesticides are not only harmful to the land, crop, water and human health.
Organic fertilizers and pesticides are not easily available on the market. Pintoo trains farmers to make the bio-inputs at home using the locally available resources. This lowers the input costs. costs. Pintoo grows rice, vegetables, fruits, pulses, oil seeds, fish, and does poultry farming throughout the year. His wife Shakuntala also joined the group 5 years ago and sells the produce. The couple dreams of their area being chemical free one  day.

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Sunderban Visit 23rd-24th January 2014

Sustainable circle “Sushthayee Chawkro” at Sunderbans

In the crisp winter afternoon, emotions surged as people of K-plot watched the street play “Prokriti Maa” (enacted by BTS employees), which delved into the realities and crises of the modern day farmer’s life.

Soon after, about 30-35 farmers gathered at the Nazrul club for a one-on-one session with our expert Tapas Mandal from DRCSC. These sessions are being held as a part of a new initiative by AID named “Sushthayee Chawkro” or the sustainable cycle.  The uniqueness of this interaction was that the participants had paid a nominal amount of Rs.20 to attend it. The idea behind is to create an ownership for the sustainable agricultural program amongst the farmers. This initiative will also help in formation of support groups of farmers who can help out their fellow farmers with their experience and Knowledge about organic farming.

Shibu, our field coordinator, had collected the queries from the farmers which were as follows:

1) How to deal with pest and diseases by organic means?

2) How to prepare the soil before the cropping season?

3) Ways and means to curtail diseases and pests in chilli, brinjal, mustard and betel leaves.

Tapasda patiently answered all the questions and suggested measures to tackle the problems. One of the farmers had brought a diseased chilli plant which had curled leaves. Tapas da diagnosed it to be caused by mites and suggested the following solution for mite infections in chillies as well as betel leaves.

500 gm-neem leaves, 250 gm- neem tree bark, 10 gm copper sulphate, 5 gm borax to be boiled together in a mud pot (metallic containers are strictly prohibited). Strain the liquid and raise volume up to 20 litres with water. Spraying the solution will effectively curtail mite infestation in betel leaves and vegetables. A note of caution- copper sulphate naturally occurs as Chalcanthite (a pentahydrate mineral) is permitted to be used in very limited amounts in integrated pest management. However, its indiscriminate use as a weedicide or to control slugs is not encouraged as high concentrations can be toxic for human and animals.

Another very effective solution to kill pests can be prepared from tobacco leaves. 50 gm of tobacco leaves were cut into small pieces and suspended in 2 litres water overnight. After boiling for about 30 min liquid was strained and leaves were discarded. 20 gm of soap (detergents and shampoos are a strict no-no) was dissolved in the tobacco extract and volume to of the solution was made up to 8 litres with water.

Two spoon full crushed garlic dipped in about 10 ml kerosene, can be kept overnight in an air tight bottle. The extract was strained (can be preserved for about a year) and dissolved in 1 litre soap water. This solution works very well for pest treatment in mustard crops. Crushed green chillies can also be added to the above solution.

Tapasda also accounted the benefits of using cow urine. He said that ten fold diluted cow urine is very effective to control fungal diseases in plants.

Tricoderma viride can also be effectively used as a biocontrol agent especially in fungal diseases.  It is a common soil fungus found in rhizosphere of the plant roots. It shows vigorous growth which competes out other disease causing fungi. Tricoderma is very effective in tobacco, potato, cauliflower etc. but not for onions, where it causes a disease. It promotes growth and induces some resistance in plants which helps them fight diseases.

Viral diseases of plants are most difficult to control. Our experts suggested that the infected plants should be removed to stop the spread of disease. 50 gm tulsi (ocimum) leaves boiled in a litre of milk, extracted and volume made up to 10 litres with water, when sprayed on infected plants help control viral diseases to a certain extent. The solution is to be sprayed 2-3 times at a gap of 15 minutes in the evening. Mixed cropping is an effective way to stop spread of diseases. Microbial infestations are very specific and usually a single microbe will almost never attack more than one species of plant. The fallow season is also helpful in elimination of diseases to an extent.

The participant farmers expressed their happiness and satisfaction about the new initiative and wanted another such session in April.

Next day, Bishaka and Polydi (field coordinators, SAP) requested us to visit the fruit orchard of Buddishwar Koyal. Buddishwarda had planted Indian Berry plants (narkeli kool) which he had procured from Mr. Humayun Kabir on an exposure visit to his farm. We were very happy to oblige. As we entered the orchard, we saw that the plant had taken their full height and were laden with fruits. Buddishwarda revealed that he had grown five plants organically, and those plants yielded higher quantity and better quality fruits. He also got a better price for the organic fruit (see the video interview of Buddishwar Koyal). Prithviraj was ecstatic when he tasted fruits from the organic and inorganically grown plants one after the other. He confirmed that the organically grown berries tasted much better than those grown with chemical inputs. Buddishwarda showed us a bottle of ‘Effective microorganisms’ that he had used for his organic venture.

Soon after we headed to Nogenabad for our next meeting with the farmers of that that area. The questions put forth by farmers were very similar to the ones in the previous meeting.  Their main concern was the brinjal plant which was very much prone to pest attack. Tapasda explained in detail about the hormone trap and how it could be very beneficial in controlling pests. Pintu was very keen to understand the scientific processes that occur on application of organic inputs and the scientific explanation of their effect on plant growth. He also expressed the need of setting up of a microbiological lab where some bacterial and fungal cultures can be maintained. He also expressed the need of setting up of a microbiological lab where some bacterial and fungal cultures can be maintained.

The idea of Susthayee Chawkro seems to have gone down well with the farmers and they are looking forward to more such sessions in the future.

Association for Indian’s Development

Kolkata Chapter

AID Kolkata is a volunteers’ movement, aspiring to bring in change that is sustainable and inclusive and in the process learn humility and respect for nature. With focus on grassroots communities, we work towards sustainable, non-discriminatory and inclusive lives for all of us,   inspiring in each other trust, confidence and support for one another,  While we, along with our partners,  do engage in work programmes and activities, we endeavour to go beyond just activities inasmuch that we strive to string together the collective conscience and thought processes of those that we work with and strengthen the inherent links that connect one conscious being to all others.