Andhra takes the plunge

July 04, 2011

The agriculture department is finally taking note of the non pesticide management technique of farming.  The Andhra Pradesh government issued an order on May 16 that the rural development and the agriculture department would work together to reduce the cost of cultivation and move towards a pesticide free cultivation across the state.
According to the order, the state's agriculture department's Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) will now collaborate with the rural development ministry's Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) to promote sustainable agriculture and move towards organic agriculture through the Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA).

SERP had initiated CMSA in 2004 and under the project promoted Non Pesticide Management (NPM). The non pesticide management technique does away with the use of any synthetic pesticide in agriculture. Instead, various homemade concoctions made from neem, garlic, chillies, plant and herb extracts, cow dung and cow urine is used along with other traditional methods of pest control. The term NPM was coined in 1998 by M S Chari, scientific adviser to Centre for World Solidarity, a non-profit that helped to solve the problem of the red hairy caterpillar ruining the red gram crop in the Telangana region. After a series of tests, they concluded pesticides were not required in cultivation.

SERP took the programme forward with World Bank and Central aid. The NPM started on a 400 acre area in 2004 and is now being practiced in 25 lakh acres in the state. “This is a very positive step. We will use this opportunity to spread chemical free sustainable agriculture to all the non CMSA villages as well,” said DV Raidu, director,  CMSA. Though CMSA has spread to all the 22 districts, it is yet to go to each village, which Raidu points out will become smoother with the agriculture ministry coming in.

The agriculture ministry has taken the plunge going by the past record of the performance of the CMSA. The ministry acknowledges the fact that income of the farmers have increased substantially and also that they get a better price for their produce.    

“Non pesticide management is just a stepping stone, we are aiming at becoming chemical free,” said Raidu. He added that in the last three years, the fertilizer consumption has come down by 50 per cent, the biodiversity in these fields have increased and the so have the number of trees.

Now, both the ministries will work together in the state. The rural development ministry will train the ATMA staff on the CMSA model which after due training will work with self help groups to popularize the low cost and high return agriculture. SERP will continue to work in the places they have already started their work and will be instrumental in the formation of self help groups, the most important component of the CMSA. The agriculture ministry agency will provide infrastructure for backward and forward linkages to farmers practicing the non pesticide management method of farming.