Thursday 14 March 2013

India farmers think big but grow micro to enrich their soil

The Guardian reports that since 2009, the south-west Indian state of Karnataka, the country's eighth largest which has a population of 61 million people, has pursued an agricultural programme called Bhoo Chetana, or soil rejuvenation, that has seen productivity shoot up by 20-50%, according to state officials. The gross value of crop production increased by $130m (£87.5m) in 2011. Its achievements have been recognised by the central government and attracted the interest of the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh and, further afield, the Philippines.

The rationale is that farmers can increase productivity and income through the judicious use of micronutrients, such as zinc, boron and sulphur, while simultaneously reducing the use of fertilisers, such as nitrogen and potash, that contaminate ground water – one of the unintended consequences of the green revolution in the 1960s and 1970s.

The system is based on soil sampling: farmers collect the samples, encouraging grassroots participation from the start. Once the samples are examined, fertiliser and micronutrients recommendations are given for different areas in different districts.

Read more here.