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Organic farming yields good results in Belur village

Kritika Agrawal

Zero-budget farming, which involves healthy organic methods of growing crops and zero cost of growing, is gaining ground among villagers of Belur in Sagara taluk in Shivamogga district.

In this method, the cost of growing and harvesting crops is zero because there is no need to buy fertilizers or pesticides.

Farmers in the village are encouraged to grow crops using the zero-budget process. “I am unlearning what I have learnt and hate high-input agriculture,” Vinayak Rao, block technology officer at the agriculture department in Sagara, informed The Observer.

Rao, who completed his post-graduation in agriculture from UAS, Bengaluru, is passionate about organic farming.

He grows crops like pepper, coffee and coconut organically in his land in Belur. “My land comes under a high rainfall area and has red lateritic soil,” he explained. He has separate land for arecanut farming, where he uses lime and wood ash to control weeds and pests.

Besides manure, eco-friendly pesticides are used in organic farming. Jeeva Amruta, a mixture of cow dung, cow urine and kitchen waste, is used to make the soil fertile and more resistant to pests.

Villagers are of the opinion that there is no need to use harmful chemicals.

Ramakrishna, a young farmer in Sagara, said: “There is no need for pesticides in farming here as we do not encounter any big diseases. For arecanut farming, we require Bordeaux mixture to control the pests,  but for the rest, we control weeds manually.” He used Jeeva Amrutha on a small patch of his land and found it very useful.
Paper mulching, an idea that has been implemented by Rao in his farm, has yielded good results.

Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of the soil. Paper mulch decomposes and becomes food for earthworms. In winter, it regulates soil temperature.

“Human interference in the crop fields should be reduced, so that nature can do its job,” Rao said. He encourages farmers to mulch soil by using areca leaves, husk, coconut fronds and dry leaves to maintain the moisture in the soil and prevent it from weed attacks.

“The government must insist on quality over quantity, and encourage farmers to use organic fertilizers. How can we poison food, our basic need?” said K. Venkatesh, an environmentalist from Sagara taluk.

Charantana Raitha Kuta, an organization of farmers in the Keladi region, holds a meeting on the first Sunday of each month where farmers discuss different methods of farming and other agriculture-related issues. Most farmers in the group have opted for organic farming. They also encourage other farmers to go organic.