Krushi Salla: Agro Advisories for farmers
A few months ago, the people of WOTR’s project villages saw a large paper with advice on farming adorning walls in prominent places in the village. This paper was not largely ignored or casually torn/ spat on like the usual advertisement, political and cinema posters. Farmers in all the villages actually started reading it, not immediately trusting it, but observing the truth in its weather forecasts.
This was WOTR’s Krushi Salla (Agro Advisory) and it passed the farmers’ examination. Mostly the weather forecasts, related to rainfall and temperature were proving to be correct. Krushi Salla contains: weather forecasts at the Tehsil level, some remedial measures to minimize any impending harmful impacts of the weather on crops, and Agro advisories based on local weather conditions, prepared by in-house agricultural experts from WOTR. The advisory is given a week in advance, thus giving enough time to implement suggested measures. It stresses on organic and sustainable methods and also contains some marketing advice. The final aim is to help farmers take informed decisions.
So the next step was to actually take those decisions; act on the given agricultural advice. In a country where agriculture has been practiced for more than 10,000 years, it is not easy to change farming methods. There is immense peer pressure, self-doubt and a potential risk of crop failure. But many farmers, especially the young lot have come forward and decided to follow the Krushi Salla.
Area: Sangamner and Akole, Maharashtra
Crops: Maize | Tomato | Bajra (Pearl Millet)
Annasaheb Dongre, Bhojdari made up his mind to plant maize following the advice given in the Krushi Salla.
Accordingly, he increased the distance between two sari (furrows) from 2 ft. to 2.5 ft. and the distance between two plantlets to be 1.5 ft. instead of 1 ft. He then used urea and super phosphate. He feels his yield has certainly improved this year, compared to the last.
Umesh Walunj, Bhojdari religiously reads the Krushi Salla every week and then explains it to those who are unable to read it as well. “I used to cultivate maize in the traditional method and needed 7 kg seeds per acre. The cost of fertilisers was high and my yield was 30 sacks of maize per acre. Following Krushi Salla, now only 5 kg of seeds is required and the yield has gone up to 35 sacks per acre.”
Umesh is also a proponent of organic fertilisers. “The maize stems become strong with Amritpani (organic fertiliser made from manure, neem leaves etc.). Even in today’s era of rampant inflation, expenses can go down if one follows the Krushi Salla.” He has also started using vermin-wash, vermin compost and Limboni pend (neem).
Nothing spreads like success. The success of his maize has got other farmers also huddling around the Krushi Salla.
Things did not stop at maize. Umesh went on to follow the advisory for his tomato crop too with very happy results. His quality of tomatoes has inspired Five more farmers from his village have to start using vermin-wash. Vermi-wash prevents the falling of young tomato buds which increased number of tomato fruits and in turn also income from the final produce.
Shantaram Raghu Dhokre, Khandgedara
“Krushi Salla also gives minimum and maximum wind speed expected for the next week and this is very important especially for tomato cultivators. Wind speed can hamper effective spraying to a great extent by not being able to reach the whole field uniformly. I used chemical fertilisers on tomato for years now. This has resulted in decreased soil quality and eventually decreased yield. Last year I have made two tomato plots: first one was given manure treatment and the other one was given the usual dose of chemical fertilisers. The tomato plants grown on manure continued giving fruit even after the chemical one was done for.”
Bajra is the traditional Kharif crop in this part of Maharashtra. Tilling, sowing, weeding and then directly harvesting: this is the traditional system.
After reading Krushi Salla put up at one of the gathering places in his village, Shantaram realized that bajra should be sown only after seed treatment. Following the Salla, he dissolved urea in water and sprayed it instead of using it directly for his bajra crop. He had also sprayed Amrutpani and saw yellow leaves turn green. He believes he will get a better harvest due to this healthy and sound growth.
From the Krushi Salla, he used the prior intimation of possible natural events, changes in humidity, temperature, wind speed etc. in taking practical decisions like fertiliser treatment to his crop if rain was forecasted for the next week. This leads to optimum utilisation of rainwater and fertiliser.
But he does admit that in case of very heavy rainfall, he would be helpless to save his crop even by being forewarned. But adaptation is all about being prepared for the very worst.