IU Impact: Community Journalism Helps Promote Organic Farming

On the 15th of May, 2012, IndiaUnheard published a video by our Karuali Correspondent Sunita Kasera titled ‘Organic Farming Prospers in Karauli District’ that documented how traditional farmers in rural areas of the district were increasingly moving away from chemical fertilizers because of the long term, irreparable damage to crops and soil. With help and guidance from local NGOs and the agricultural department, the farmers were switching to more sustainable, organic methods of farming. Sunita’s video and footage was used by Karauli NGO Satat Vikas Sangathan to help the communities understand the value and profit of organic manure.

Shri. Arun Jindal is the director of Satat Vikas Sanghatan, an over twenty year old organization which works with local communities on the issues of agriculture, livelihood, health, infrastructure among others. He is Sunita’s mentor under whom she started her career in social service as a community worker. Sunita says that she stills on counts on Shri. Jindal for advice and guidance. “He has always been a great support and his influence on me has been immense,” acknowledges Sunita. “One of the biggest disadvantages of being a Community Correspondent is that you are working alone and dealing with complex issues. It can be overwhelming at times. It helps to have a guide you can believe in.”

When Shri. Jindal saw Sunita’s video; he realized that it would be a perfect tool to educate the people on the benefits of organic farming. “Because of the farming models they practiced, the farmers were caught in vicious circle,” says Shri. Jindal. “They used to create a silo of cow dung which was allowed to mature over time. But this deposit would then turn into a breeding ground of termites. When the manure was applied to soil, the plants would be infected by the pests. The farmers would have no choice but to resort to chemicals to contain the infection. We had to break the cycle- this mentality that had taken hold over many years.”

As part of her work with the Satat Vikas Sanghatan, Sunita has traveled extensively throughout the length and breadth of rural Karauli. “Ideally, I would have liked to take my video to the villages but most of them don’t even receive electricity,” says Sunita. Shri. Jindal proposed an alternative. He says, “We organized screenings for the community workers and local leaders. It would be part of the orientation and they would then go back to the villages and pass on the knowledge.”

So how does one go about procuring organic manure? Shri. Jindal explains:

How to Make Your Own Organic Manure

1)      Dig a pit in the ground. 1 meter in width. 3 meters across. And 3 meters deep.

2)      Add a layer of Neem Leaves over the bottom of the pit.

3)      Sieve some soil into the pit. Add a few mounds of cow dung and pour cow urine over it.

4)      Add another layer of neem leaves. Add other branches and twigs.

5)      Add another layer of dung.

6)      Alternate the layers every six inches with neem, dung and other organic waste until you reach the top of the pit.

7)      Cover the top with a paste of wet dung such that when it dries the pit remains air-tight.

8)      Allow the microbes to go to work for 6 months.

9)      6 months later- Congratualations! You have made your own organic manure.

“The effort is to remain low cost and vernacular. We are keen to use materials that are easily available in the immediate locality. It is more of a science than tradition,” says Shri. Jindal.The number of farmers who have started producing and using organic manure is on the rise. The local agricultural authorities are interested to promote the practice. Farmers who are convinced by the trainings and demonstration are convinced when they feel the quality of their produce.

“The crops and vegetables grown organically taste better,” says Sunita. “And it is healthier. I don’t want to feed my children with chemicals. This new trends bodes well from farmers and consumers both.”

6 villages have already signed on. Many more are looking to follow.

Lastly, IndiaUnheard asked Shri. Arun Jindal for a few thoughts and words on Sunita and her work.

“Rajasthan especiallyEastern Rajasthanof which Karauli is a part is still a very feudal region. A working woman is a very uncommon sight in these parts. But Sunita has shown that change starts with oneself.”

"Viewers of IndiaUnheard must be familiar with the changes she brought to society and community with the help of her videos and activism. Just by being herself, she has created a sea change in the mindset of society. She is living the change she wants to be.”

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