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OM shree sai ram .

Biopesticides
An Economic Evaluation

Bio pesticides or organic pesticides as the name suggest is the preparation of pesticides
using locally found medicinal plants such as Neem leaves etc to tackle the problem of
pests which is a constant problem to agriculturists and farmers alike .
Biopesticides has been a part of the Indian agriculture from time immemorial. It derives
its basis from Ayurvedic texts which prescribe 5 aqueous preparations using plants as the
raw materials for treating plants and preventing them from attack of pests.
• Swarasam: fresh juice
• Kalkam : fresh paste
• Kashaayam: water extract
• Hima : cold kashaayam
• Phandam : cold infusion

Till the late 1960’s when green revolution was introduced, Biopesticdes were used in our
day today farming scenario.
But when Pesticides were introduced through The green revolution movement in the
1960’s ,old methods took to backstage.
India is the 12 th largest consumer and producer of pesticides in the world. Pesticides are
used extensively in our system as our economy is largely agriculture based. Pesticides
were effective to ward off the pests in the short run and thus boost yields but in the long
run it has been observed that excessive usage of pesticides has terminal effects on the
environment leading to degradation of land, loss of soil fertility, contamination of ground
water reservoirs apart from causing long term health problem for humans and animals
alike.
Biopesticides are based on the concept that nature always balances itself , if there are
harmful insects in way of pests that damage the crops then there are insects who are
called beneficiary insects which are predators to the above thus maintaining a balance.
They aim at restoring the nutrient balance in the soil so that the plants themselves
develop the strength to ward off the harmful insects.
Biopesticides pose as effective Antifeedent, Repellent, Insect growth promotion etc.

In the last decade or so due to wide spread awareness being created by various sources
regarding the harmful effects of pesticides and the transgenic mode of agricultural
production we are seeing a return to traditional way of agriculture which is now being
termed as ‘organic farming’ .
Main objective /economic evaluation:
My main aim of undertaking the following project was to examine organic agriculture
in specific reference to bio pesticides and see if it acts as an economically viable option in
terms of investment , application etc , as compared to pesticide.

Organization and location:


Through my project I apprenticed with the
CIKS – Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems, Kotturpuram Chennai.
CIKS is an organization devoted to exploring and developing the contemporary
relevance and applications of traditional Indian knowledge systems – with the focus areas
being agriculture and health care. Their main aim is to strengthen and revitalize
indigenous sciences and practices.
Some of the major programmes of the center include:
• Action research and training programmes on various aspects of sustainable
agriculture.
• Setting up of rural gene banks for conservation of traditional seed varieties.
• Developing organic packages for crops such as paddy and cotton.
• Research on the applications of Vrkshayurveda (Traditional Indian plant science.)
• Preparation of audiovisuals on various aspects of organic farming.
• Publication of books, posters and newsletters on traditional health care and
traditional agriculture.

I worked in one of their field centers which is located in Sirkazhi which is located
350kms to the south of Chennai.

• CIKS – Sirkazhi is one of their few field centers that are involved in the
promotion of organic farming in various regions of Tamil Nadu.
They aim to :
• Create awareness among farmers in that locality regarding environmentally
safe methods through various training programmes regarding the preparation
of biopesticides /fertilizers etc.
• Promote environmentally friendly alternatives in agriculture
• Reduce expenditure in terms of chemical inputs for farmers.

They have established a bio pesticide production unit in a nearby village called
Agani to meet the above purpose. To them sales is secondary their primary goal
is to spread awareness among farmers.

 In sirkazhi I under took 13 days of field work from the period of 4 th may
to 18th May.
 During this period I interviewed 20 organic and inorganic farmers
regarding the usage and effectiveness of biopesticide.
 I did a complete case study of the Agani biopesticide unit in terms of
product types, marketing, production, employee interview etc.
 I visited local pesticide dealers and a few biopesticide retailers in and
around that area.
 I visited the local ADO office to get a governmental stand with regards to
organic farming.
Day to day plan:
• Day 1: Had a general introduction about the organization and its motives done by
Mrs Subhashini,Programme coordinator and Miss Maheshwari, Programme
assistant. I looked through some office records and some purchase records of the
biopesticide unit ,prepared farmer interview questionnaire.

• Day 2: Interviewed 1 farmer, visited biopesticide unit , went through purchase


records

• Day 3: Interviewed two farmers.

• Day 4: Went through sales records and interviewed 3 farmers .

• Day 5: Went through sales records and interviewed 4 farmers and visited a
pesticides shop.

• Day 6: Interviewed 2 farmers and interviewed employees of biopesticide unit.

• Day 7: Visited a pesticide shop and went through purchase records.

• Day 8: Interviewed agricultural development officer and visited


murugamangalam-2farmers.

• Day 9: Interviewed employee’s of CIKS- Sirkazhi.

• Day 10: Went through purchase records and started tabulation.

• Day 11: Visited Sembanarkovil and interviewed a retailer of biopesticide.

• Day 12: Interviewed 11 farmers who were one time buyers.

• Day 13: Final tying up of project.


• Highlights of the biopesticide unit – Agani .
 The bio pesticide unit in Agani was started on the 4 th august 2003 ,with 3 part-
time permanent staff members Mrs. . Fathima , Mrs. Arogayajaya , Miss
Sangeetha.

 The unit was started with the sole aim of promoting organic farming in and
around Sirkazhi taluk by promoting a message of chemical free clean food .

 This unit is currently the sole commercial producer of biopesticides in and around
Sirkazhi taluk .

 The unit is right now working on developing better storage forms than what
presently exist.

 The unit produces 9 main products which are meant for direct sale

1. Poochi viratti ( 5 leaf extract ).


2. Andrographis extract..
3. Neem seed kernel extract.
4. Neem cake.
5. Garlic Chilli Ginger Arakam
6. Vasumbu Arakam.( sweet flag Arakam)
7. Panchagavyam .
8. Cow’s urine(collection ).

 The following are preparatory methods used for the preparation of the above
products. The effectiveness of these products will vary from case to case.
Interview of Sathya (Supervisor of Biopesticide unit –
Agani)

Name: Satya
Age: 20 years
Qualification: S.S.L.C has done a 1. Computer course
2. Typing course
Question: How long have you been working with CIKS?

Answer: I have been with CIKS for the last 3 years.

Question: From the time when you started the biopesticide plant at Agani how have
the overall sales been? Are the farmers aware about biopesticides and its usage? What
are your strategies to spread awareness among farmers?

Answer: The sales have been very promising. Panchagavyam is still one of our fast
moving products. Most farmers have started making Biopesticides on their own .so
there has been a decline in sales in certain products such as five leaf extract etc.

As far as spreading awareness is concerned our strategy is very simple keep telling
them till they listen. We go to farms at least once a week to review and also meet new
farmers to tell them about the products that we sell and their scope etc. Most of the
farmers take their own time to assimilate what we say but in the end most of them
land up converting even if it is a small area initially.

We are currently targeting large farmers as if a large farmer in a village convert then
small farmer tends to follow in pursuit.

We also provide training programmes to farmers regarding the preparation.

Question: What is the level of awareness among farmers?

Answer: Most farmers are showing a positive outlook towards organic farming but
there are an odd few who still feel pesticides are much better to biopesticides, but the
important thing to keep following up.

Right now in Sirkazhi Taluk we can roughly say the awareness level is 70: 30 with
30% of them not knowing anything about organic framing or its existence.
Question: What is your method of approach when you go to meet possible organic
farmers or go to new village to spread the message of organic farming?

Answer: First we do a general survey of the village and while doing so we go house
to house telling the farmers and spreading awareness regarding the harmful effects of
pesticides etc. We offer to train them or come to their places and train them regarding
various bio products preparations if they show interest.

Question: Do you market the organic produce of the farmers?

Answer: Currently we have formed a Farmers Sangam in Sirkazhi. They are sending
small quantities of grains, groundnuts etc, to Salem and a few places in Chennai.

Question: What is your function in the Biopesticide unit?

Answer: I coordinate and supervise the production of all our products I have to do
quality check for our products.

Question: What are your future plans?

Answer: We plan to motivate many more farmers to convert and give in more land
towards organic development, we are thinking of opening farmer motivated retail
units in many of the villages in and around Sirkazhi taluk.

And as far as my future plans are concerned I will continue.

Question: What as per you is the strategy that should be adopted to effectively spread
the organic message?

Answer : If you want people to go organic you got to keep telling them again and
again the benefits of organic agriculture and express your solidarity with them at all
times as the basis of any relationship is trust and once they trust you only then they
are going to listen you .
Interview of employee’s in biopesticide unit.

Name: Fatima
Village: Agani
Age: 42 years

Question: What was you motivation to join this biopesticide unit? Are you happy or
satisfied with your job?

Answer: I am a farmer myself and as a farmer I know how difficult it is to buy


pesticides at the prices they sell now days. When I heard about biopesticides it was
something new to me, that there could actually be a product that wards off pests without
spoiling the soil like pesticide and still ensures a good yield was like a dream come true .
So as I wanted to now more about it or possibly learn it I joined CIKS unit in Agani .

Question: How did it all happen (selection process)?

Answer : I was a member of TANWA which is a governmental SHG promoting IPM


among farmers and when I came to now through Kasturi amma regarding the setting up
of this unit I met Subhashini and took training from Satya I initially planned to stay for a
year but now I think I will stay .

Question: How do you fell being such an integral part of the unit?

Answer: It feels good. I am satisfied.

Question: How has sales and farmer response been?

Answer: Some farmers are determined to go organic and are very interested generally
they are the ones who buy a lot of our products, but apart from that the movement is
really starting to spread only now with the starting of the Sangam we are seeing more
farmers coming forward to convert.

Question: What are your plans for the future?

Answer: Most farmers prepare biopesticides themselves or have learnt to do so only


when they find it difficult to do so we prepare it for them.
Question: How is the response of farmers in and around Agani .Do they buy your
products?

Answer: In Agani in particular we don’t have good sales but there are 5 to 6 other
farmers. Largely they are not interested in converting as the yield in organic farming at
least for the first few years is not too high and here they are more interested in money so
even though they see so many farmers converting they are still reluctant to do.

Question: How much land do you own? Do you use biopesticides in your fields? If yes
what are the advantages of using the same?

Answer: I own 13 acres of land where I grow pulses and paddy.


I use panchagavyam mainly but for pests I use 5 leaf extract or vasumbu karaisal for
diseases.

For the first two years yield will be low but later it picks up. Cost wise bio products are
much cheaper than inorganic products.

Question: Did you face and pressure socitically or from your house for having chosen to
work in an NGO?

Answer: As it was my choice and I was firm on it, I dint have any problems.

Name: Arogyajaya.
Age: 30 years
Village: Agani

Question: What was you motivation to join this biopesticide unit? Are you happy or
satisfied with your job?

Answer: I am a farmer myself and as a farmer know how difficult it is to buy pesticides
at the prices they sell now days so when I heard about biopesticides it was something new
to me that there actually is a product that wards off pests does not spoil the soil like
pesticide tends to do and still ensures a good yield was like a dream come true for me,
And as I wanted to now more about it or possibly learn it I joined CIKS unit in Agani . . I
wanted to eat chemical free food everyone has a right to it and if I can contribute in some
way to make sure that people do then I will be satisfied.

Question: How did it all happen (selection process)?


Answer : I was a member of TANWA with Fatima and when we heard of CIKS and
their work I just felt this was the right place for me , so I joined . We went through 2
trainings under Sathya and Subhashini before we were recruited.

Question: How has sales and farmer response been?

Answer: The farmer’s response has been positive and with regards to sales it has been
nominal mainly because most farmers prepare their own biopesticides.

Question: What are your plans for the future?

Answer: I have been working here for the past two years I think I will continue.

Question: How much land do you own? Do you use biopesticides in your fields? If yes
what are the advantages of using the same?

Answer: I have 1acre of land in which I grow paddy, pulses etc.


I use Neem kernel extract mostly but as we don’t have irrigation facilities in our land we
spray it directly apart from that I use 5 leaves extract. It is good not only does it reduce
my costs but it is effective too.

Question: Did you face and pressure socitically or from your house for having chosen to
work in an NGO?

Answer: as it was my choice and I was firm on it. I dint have any problems.

Name: Sangeetha
Village: Agani.
Age: 20 years.

Question: What was you motivation to join this biopesticide unit? Are you happy or
satisfied with your job?

Answer: I was doing a tailoring course when I heard about CIKS through Kasturi amma
on her suggestion only did I meet Subhasini akka and join CIKS. Apart from that I
wanted to eat chemical free food.

Question:What is your role in CIKS?


Answer: I am responsible for the distribution of our products that is if we get orders from
other places and the farmer can’t come to pick his order up then I go and deliver it
wherever necessary.

Question: What are your plans for the future?

Answer: I will continue training and working here till my marriage at least.

Question: How much land do you own? Do you use biopesticides in your fields? If yes
what are the advantages of using the same?

Answer: We grow pulses, and rice mainly. I have used panchagavyam and 5 leaf extract
this time but I am not sure of its effectiveness as this is the first time I am trying it. But I
have noticed that the costs have definitely reduced at least for me.

Question: Did you face and pressure socitically or from your house for having chosen to
work in an NGO?

Answer: No, I joined on my own will.


Interview with Agriculture development officer –Sirkazhi taluk .

Name: Mr. Rajendran


Designation: ADO- Sirzhi Taluk.

Question: Do you encourage farmers to adopt organic technologies?


Answer: since the time, the government banned the use of certain commonly used
pesticides our government depots have largely tuned to selling biopesticides. The
government realizes that chemical fertilizers and such inorganic green revolution
introduced technology not only pose great financial strain on the farmers but to a large
extent it poses a strain on the government funds too.
Currently the government imports $20 million worth of phosphatic fertilizers every year
and yet it is not enough to meet the needs of the farmers.
Organic technologies greatly reduce this cost not only for the farmers but also for the
government.
In past few years due to a short supply of DAP fertilizers as an alternative the
government is promoting biopesticides offering a 50 % discount in most purchases of the
same .
The production of pesticides has reduce by 10 – 13 % and even subsidies for many
pesticides have been stopped
But the production and consumption of pesticides can’t be stopped at once as right now it
is in our culture to use the same recognizing that the government has adopted planning
strategy that is slow and steady but hopes to reap great returns.

Question: What do you think of biopesticides and its usage?


Answer: It is a good concept by itself and a good product too it is not only eco – friendly
but also reduces the production costs.

Question: In today’s agriculture scenario do you think it is possible to convert from the
completely inorganic mode of agriculture to and more organic mode of agriculture? What
would it mean for a marginal farmer to do so?
Answer: It is feasible but, possible only if awareness is created among the farmers and
side by side, creates an exclusive market for organic products where the prices of the
same are higher than the local markets. If this were done effectively organic farming
would become viable, economic and eco- friendly option.
Question: Considering the series of natural calamities that this district has had to put up
with, to bring back or increase agriculture produce, what would you recommend would
be an effective strategy on part of the government for development organic or inorganic
farming?

Answer : If there is more area under organic farming then there are chances of getting a
good yield but in the current situation awareness regarding organic agriculture is very
minimal, in this area in specific awareness is around 30 % or so but we are hoping that it
will show some signs of increases in a year or two..
On the part of the government we have already increased the production of biofertilizers
to 3.4 lakhs-4 lakhs packets from the previous year where it was 2.8 lakhs packets or so.

Question: Is the government providing training programmes to the farmers regarding the
use and preparation of biopesticides?
Answer: Yes, we are providing training to the members of the women self help groups
(TANWA) regarding the preparation and consumption. But we are largely involved only
at the distributory level.

Question: Have you kept any trial demonstrations for biopesticide as a product? What
were your results/ findings?
Answer : For cotton in specific we have conducted demonstration trials for bio products
such as NPV virus , BT and a few other plant extracts .We found that as they are plant
extracts they reduce the problem of sucking pests common to cotton crops to a great
extent, but trials are still on .

Question: How has the response been from farmers?


Answer: All responses till now have been positive. As bio products greatly reduce the
costs for the farmers it is slowly becoming popular e.g.: If for a farmer the total pesticide
cost for an acre comes to around RS 600 – RS 700, for the same one acre of land a
farmers total cost on biopesticides will not be more than RS 100 or so. Currently at least
with respect to cotton we have seen large scale conversion but for other crops we are yet
to see such kind of conversion.

Question: Do you see organic produce having a separate market? If no: what steps is the
government taking to see that it does?

Answer: Right now due to low awareness among the farming community such a market
does not exist but there should be one in the near future. From the government’s side we
are trying our best to ensure that it develops. We are first trying to bring about a market
for rice and vegetables.
We are currently promoting it under the banner of an environmentally friendly and health
product so as to fetch a higher price for the same. This way both the producer and the
consumers are satisfied
We are exploring the possibilities of bringing about and AGMARK or BIS certification.
Question: Lastly what do you think about CIKS and their activities in general?
Answer: they are one of the few NGO’s here who are trying to spread the message of
organic agriculture effectively and I am happy to say that thanks to our combined effort it
is slowly catching on.

Visit to organic farming shop at Sembanarkoil.

The organic farming shop owned by Mr. Manikavasagam is a successful commercial cum
social venture which has successfully motivated 100 farmers in and around that area to
convert to organic or semi organic agriculture.
Dealing with various bio products he goes about motivating and convincing farmers to
adopt organic agriculture being a farmer himself he says, “that the only way that you can
convert a farmer to organic is by going his way if he says I will use only chemicals
because they are good then don’t oppose him but agree with him but slowly keep telling
him about bio products, organic farming and change him little by little both internally and
externally.”
The highlights of our meeting our summarized below:
• Apart form being a seller Manikavasagam is an active activist for organic
agriculture. His strategy mainly involves going to the small and marginal
farmers or many times the farm laborers and telling him the advantages of bio
products such as biopesticides over chemical pesticides and through a long
discussive process where they exchange views, reading materials etc, He tries
getting them to convert.

• He says there are lot of problems associated with the spreading of organic
agriculture
1. Lack of awareness among the people about organic agriculture , as it is
largely being promoted by a few NGO’s in a few areas many area don’t
know about the existence of such systems
2. Government poses to be one a large obstacle as a significant amount of our
national GDP comes from the selling of chemical pesticides and fertilizers
though they are said to promote organic agriculture in reality the situation is
very different. Every time you put on the farmer news all he talks about is
how good Monocrotophos is or how better some other chemical is, even in
the farmer help lines chemicals are often suggested to the farmers.
3. Lack of knowledge of appropriate technology. There are not enough shops
promoting the sales of bio products most of them are chemical based shops.
Chemical companies often spend a lot of money in advertising and also have
some very loyal supporters in the farming communities to vouch for them
e.g.: many farmers are so choosy that they will buy only spic products even in
pesticides.
4. Lack of focus on farm laborers, very often it is the farm laborer who mainly
decides what is sown in the land and how ,more than the owner of the land
himself. And these laborers should be who should be targeted as they are the
ones who can bring about a change in systems, as they set the systems.
5. At times it is also a matter of ego for few farmers it is a great matter of pride
to be able to buy pesticides as they are expensive and foreign technology.

• Hence taking into the above the main focus should be to break their
trust in inorganic by giving them various texts to read in which the
negatives of chemical agriculture are told. Regular discussion session
where you can talk to them about pre green revolution and post green
revolution days and what they can do as farmers to improve the
situation.
• Express solidarity with them at all times
• Create a marketing bureau which collectively exports or sells only
organic produce collected from various farmers
• Force will never work you have to go their way and change their mind
set.

He says that in his area about 1% of the farmer’s currently use completely
organic most of them are semi organic farmers.
Many times he supplies bio products at cheap rates or free just to
encourage farmers. He deals with many byproducts such as organic six,
NPV virus, Azozspirillium, phosphobacteria, panchagavyam, five leaves
extract etc. He generally purchases panchgavyam and five leaf extract
from CIKS he finds their products very reliable and effective.
Bhuvanagiri AgroCenter.

• The Bhuvanagiri agro clinic is mainly run by Mrs. Amudha Ramesh,B.SC


(Agriculture.)
• It has been in operation for the past 2 years.
• It was mainly started with the notion of converting more farmers in that
area into organic by providing a local base where farmers could buy bio
products.
• They deal with many products many of which are purchased from Agani
Biopesticide unit like Panchagavyam, Neem seed kernel extract, and
Tobacco extract. Apart from that they also sell bioproducts like
Pseudomonas, Rhizobium, Azozspiriilium, Phosphobacteria etc.
• They sell Biofertilizers such as Rhizobium which is more effective than
NPK as it fixes 25% nitrogen from air.
• Grozine is a sea weed extract which is good for growth and Ecohume is
farm manure in bottle which contains 5 % humus thus helping in
increasing the yield.
• Awareness wise since we started 30-40% of the farmers are aware about
organic farming while 20% of them have converted or already doing semi
organic agriculture.
• 2 farmers in that area have completely converted organic using our
products.
• Result wise farmers were very happy as it reduces the costs for the farmers
greatly and after the initial 3 years yields also show an upward trend.
• Sales wise Panchagavyam is still our most fast moving product. In a
season, we sell nearly 200 litres, which we generally buy from CIKS.
• Bio products are being extensively used in this area for the cultivation of
jasmine flowers as they produce whiter flower, bigger and plants also
develop resistance and hence are very thick.
• Organic farming on the whole is catching up in this area and Iam very
happy to be a part of this change
Visit to organic market- Luz church road – Chennai.
Located in between MCTM School and a small bungalow run a vibrant organic market
organized by Mr. Hari and other fellow members of the foundation for organic
agriculture.
It is an informal market organized over the weekend by the foundation, who are a
collection of small and marginal farmers practicing organic farming right from
Chengalpet to Kodaikanal and Coimbatore.

They are an informal network of organic farmers. The network grows based on
recommendations from other known organic farmers. Deeply dedicated towards the
promotion of organic agriculture they have opened a weekend market here which sells
only organic produce for the middle class at competitive rates .They have been in
operation for close to 3 years having customer base of around 250.

On talking to Mr. Hari one of the organizers I got an interesting insight into their
operations which is summarized below:

Question: How did you come about in setting up this unit?


Answer: I am a marginal farmer myself. I have been perusing organic farming of
mangoes for the past 10 years or so and one main problems of organic farmers like
myself was that here in India we have no real market for organic goods in specific, and if
we do it is mainly targeted towards the rich and the elite who account for say 5% of our
total population.
That is when I thought that the key to economic viability of organic farming lies in
targeting the largest group in our society - the middle class and hence a few of us got
together to form this market . This market caters only to the middle class if you see our
prices are also more oriented towards the same and competitive in comparison to regular
produce available at local stores and super markets

Question: Are your products certified?


Answer: No since we are an informal network we are not certified in that sense but our
farmers are purely organic as we only deal with farmers who are recommended by other
farmers that way each farmer keeps track of the others practices.
We are working towards a Panchayati Raj system of certification where the Panchayats
themselves collectively certify their products, but it is in the process.
Question: Is there a demand for organic produce in the cities in specific?
Answer: There is a huge demand and in fact one of our main problem is that the demand
is so much that often supply runs short , people are definitely lot more aware then what
they used to be say 10 years ago . In fact people have now started asking us for organic
vegetables during the week too but as our supply comes from various points and due to
other logistical problem we are unable meet this demand, Hence we are restricting our
sales only to weekends with our current level of supplies .the process of going organic
takes around 3 to 4 years for a farmer hence the constraints in the supplies.

Question: What would it take for a farmer to convert to organic?


Answer: Well the initial investment is very high and this is the time that you will face
many problems like pests etc. The initial 3 years where the soil takes times to rejuvenate
and come to balance your yield will start picking up. But for you to become completely
organic it will take a minimum of 10 years or so.

Question: Taking into account the above how viable or feasible it is for a small or
marginal farmer to convert to organic if he has to endure such a lengthy gestation period?
Answer: During these entire process sales is a very important element any activity has to
work commercially if you want people to indulge in it especially in terms of organic
farming.
Here in our foundation we firmly believe in the principle that “for a farmer to convert to
organic you have to show him the money in organic agriculture, tell him that it will be
more profitable than inorganic agriculture.”, that is one major reason that we started this
market to show the farmers that organic agriculture is viable it is profitable and besides
apart from your initial costs that you will incur the first year so as to make the soil
healthy etc. Once the soil develops naturally after that in way of costs you will have very
little expenses “.Nature will take care of itself you just have to give her space and time.”

Question: Do you use bio products?


Answer: Yes we use some amount of herbal based products but largely we leave it for
nature to take care of her self.

Question: Are you thinking of exporting?


Answer: We don’t really need to consider exporting as it has a lot of hassles with it
especially if it is a perishable good; we believe that there is a large domestic demand in
India itself for organic produce without any need for expensive certification processes,
meeting this demand itself should provide a viable market for organic produce.
Meeting with Mr. Krishna
(organic campaigner and sales personnel.)

Question: In what area of organic agriculture do you work with?

Answer: I do door delivery of organic products which are produced by small and
marginal farmers who are practicing organic agriculture .I generally deal with
commodities like organic rice, wheat, pulses, turmeric etc.

Question: Who are your main customers? How do you generally price your goods?

Answer: Sales has been slowly building up over the last few years now I have a lot more
customers than initially when I started. My customers are mainly from the middle class
and elite class. My goods are generally priced at a 20 % margin.

Question: Are your products completely organic?

Answer: As many of my farmers are in the transition stage my products are not
completely organic they have some amount of residues but I know that the inputs at least
are completely organic in nature.
In India it is very difficult to certify whether a product is completely organic the chief
reason being that I may be organic but if the farmers around me are inorganic then
residues are bound to be found in my produce and India is a land of small and marginal
farmers so it is very difficult to certify whether a product is organic or not.

Question: How is the level off awareness among consumers here in Chennai regarding
organic products?

Answer: Over the last 10 years awareness with regarding to organic produce has grown to
a large extent but still has a long way to go. Demand for organic products has been
growing, but as it is considered exotic or a commodity for the higher ups demand is not
that very high, my model mainly aims at targeting this notion and making organic
produce accessible to people of all types.

Question: Are you’re good certified? Is there a certification system in India?

Answer: No my products are not certified by any organization. I personally don’t believe
in certification process as
1. It is too expensive – 1 kg of rice costs RS 10,000
2. Nothing is standard with regard to nature so any certification can only be of the
moment, what really matters in the end is the genuine practices of the farmer. An
external certification process devalues ‘The internal’ the local.

All of my farmers maintain a genuine report of their inputs and related outputs, so that
they have a record of what has gone in to the field this way they are independent.

Question: In your opinion what would be the awareness among farmers state wise?

Answer: As far as the south is concerned the awareness in Kerela will come first then
Andra Pradesh , Karnataka and last of all Tamil nadu .

Question: Broadly what percentage of the organic produce is exported? What are the
goods that are mainly exported ?

Answer: India exports 30 % of its produce such as herbs, rice, vegetables etc.70 % of it is
retained for local consumption.

Question: In today’s situation does a separate organic market exist in terms of pricing etc
.If so can a single organic farmer sell his produce directly in the market will the market
accept that ?

Answer: We don’t have an organic market yet in place but it is hoped to become a reality
in the coming few years. In the past 10 years for instance we have seen a significant
increase in the number of farmers converting to organic. It is an ongoing process it will
take the time it has to take but when it catches on it will bring about a change for the
better. “The fire has been lit, now it is up to us to keep it burning.”

Question: Do you do organic farming yourself? What are your future plans? Do you have
a marketing strategy?

Answer : In way of marketing strategy I don’t have anything in specific , I buy from
trusted and recommended farmers only and I guess I will continue doing home delivery
of organic produce , continue campaigning as “ small initiatives lead to big changes .”
Meeting with Mr. Sudhakar (Toxic Link – CAG)

Mr. Sudhakar is a firm organic movement supporter and campaigner who has been
working for many years in various areas relating to toxic wastes and its management.
A short summary of the few meetings that we had are given below:

Question: In India do we have laws regarding the permeability level of pesticides in food
stuff?

Answer: Under the Insecticide Act, pesticide residues in the food have been allowed to
an extent but there is no official mechanism in place which clearly monitors the level of
pesticides in food stuff.

Question: So as a consumer how am I to be sure that what I am consuming might not


harm me or worse still kill me? Wouldn’t it come under the purview of the ministry of
health?

Answer: Well the bottom line is you can never be sure. The main drawback of our
governmental systems is that there is no connection between the various departments. For
example if the above case is brought to the notice of the ministry of health they will
blame it on the ministry of agriculture who possibly might say it came under the ministry
of environment, so no one really owns up as all the departments are autonomous by
nature so no one is there to really monitor their functions.
Secondly the government as per WTO agreement exports large quantities of organic
produce at profitable rates and imports transgenic variety of food grains etc at lower rates
from countries such as America etc. So you can never really be sure of what you are
consuming.

Question: As per my current information the government has stopped offering subsidies
for pesticide is that true?

Answer: To an extent yes the government doesn’t offer subsides for pesticides but it does
for the purchase of fertilizers, besides most of the production unit’s fall under the private
sector.

Question: How much does the pesticide industry contribute to our over all economy?

Answer: The pesticide industry on an average contributes close to 10 – 15% towards the
growth of our economy.
Question: It is said that green revolution marked the beginning of this vicious cycle if so
why is the government now promoting a second green revolution or evergreen
revolution?
Answer: In the early 1960‘s India was faced with a serious crisis that of “Food Security”,
We dint have enough food to feed our growing population those where the times when
hybridization was slowly becoming an in thing in agriculture.
Hybridization emerged from the concept that during plant growth and development a lot
of valuable plant energy gets wasted in the form of leaves, fruits etc and when the leaves
etc fall they get consumed by animals leading to the loss of valuable energy. It aims at
locating the particular gene responsible for the distribution of this energy and programme
it such way that all this energy is directed towards the development of better yield or
better fruits .So when the first hybrid commercial seed or the golden rice was developed
the Indian government imported golden rice from Manila to sort out the food crisis. These
seeds being of an imported variety required more amounts of inputs .From then
agriculture has been a burden on the farmers owing for external inputs and is continuing
to do so even today.

Question: What do you think about organic form of agriculture?


Answer: As per me organic agriculture is nothing but an old wine in a new bottle. Being
an eco friendly way of faming it not only maintains the environment but also reduces the
inputs for the farmers after all that is what we have been practicing for so long.

Question: But in spite of this, why isn’t organic agriculture picking up fast?
Answer: Any technology when introduced even after a long time will be resisted at first
.Organic agriculture is picking up but the main reasons why it is taking time is
1. Lack of awareness among farmers
2. Lack of a functional market place often forces framers to sell their products in
inorganic markets where it is not really valued properly.
3. Even education systems <agricultural syllabus - graduation level >promote
inorganic means of cultivation.
4. Failure in government plans and policies. Recently only has the government
started to promote organic agriculture that too only because a lot of our ships are
being stalled at foreign ports due to high level of pesticides.
Analysis

 Of the total area under study 28 % is under organic cultivation .this picture
drastically reduces to 6% if only farmers who practice both forms of farming are
taken into consideration.

 Among farmers who practice both the forms, the small and marginal farmers
account for 57% of acreage under organic farming while they form 18% of the
total acreage.
 The cost comparisons reveal that under all circumstances inorganic pesticides in
sheer money value are more expensive than organic pesticides by over 3 times on
the total .
 Among farmers who practice both forms rice and cotton cultivation account for a
very high level of toxicity to the farmer posing health hazards.

Conclusion from analysis

In my opinion the above is a clear indicator that small and marginal farmers need to
be the focus group for conversion to organic as:

1. The above indicates that this group is more receptive to organic farming.
2. Cost considerations could be a possible reason for this shift.
3. A greater emphasis on this group of farmers could enhance organic
cultivation as a percentage of total acreage.
4. The key to economic viability of organic farming might actually lie in the
hands of small and marginal farmers.
Suggestions/ conclusion :
Based on the field observations and analysis of survey data the following is the current
scenario:
• Biopesticides are economically viable when produced closer to the farming units
using locally available materials. .
• CIKS’S thrust is largely oriented towards research and propagation of use of
biopesticides through experimental plots with large farmers.
• Biopesticides are currently being propagated through these experimental projects
by offering them at discounted rates to large farmers.
• Marginal and small farmers are not a focus group for the propagation of
biopesticdes during the initial stages.
• The current strategy is to start with larger farmers and have a trickle down effect
to small and marginal farmers.

Suggestions:
• Manufacture of biopesticides should be at the micro hamlets / village level.
• The high cost of inorganic pesticides could be actually turned into a USP(unique
selling proposition) for biopesticides among the small and marginal farmers .
• Division of labour among small and medium farmers with networking by CIKS
could actually lead to costs savings in manufacture of biopesticides .
• The resultant network could form a basis for setting up co-operative marketing
organizations for organic farm produce.

The basis of the above suggestions is –


• “ Money saved is money earned ”,
• “Economic viability from farmer’s point of view is the only formula for
success.”

With the above two guiding principles my suggestions are as below


Str ate g y
The essence of the strategy is to take the production and consumption of
biopesticides to micro level co-operative units.

Pr oduction Model:
The suggested model is to form a co-operative unit for the purpose of
production as well as consumption of bio fertilizers and bio pesticides,
consisting of small and marginal farmers and formation of self help groups
within these units to aid this production using locally available material as far
as possible.
This would significantly reduce the financial/loan burden on these small and
marginal farmers for buying both fertilizers and pesticides – money saved is
money earned.

The essence of this micro level model is for the unit to produce for its needs
of fertilizers and pesticides and be self sufficient.
Raw material could be obtained and distributed by the units even through a
process of barter which could be facilitated by the larger CIKS network.

CIKS could charge a marginal consultancy fee which would be payable by


these units starting from three years after commencing of these micro level
units.

CIKS could also arrange for financing these unit operations through
governmental organizations and funding agencies such as NABARD etc, on
low cost long term basis.

This model also encourages the theory of “for the people by the people” ,
based on which multi cropping at the unit level with an overall coordination
by CIKS could ensure a better earning for the entire network due to
balancing of demand and supply .
Economic benefits of this model:

• The reduced financial/loan burdens on the marginal farmer due to this


model would be a benefit which actually could be used to encourage
him to shift to organic despite a gestation period of the first few years
where his productivity would be lower(money saved ,money earned).
• In the case of rich farmers the money saved might not translate to a
major advantage, hence organic might only remain an experiment
rather than translating into reality. In the case of marginal farmers
every little bit saved has a higher value considering their scale of
operations.
• During the initial phase of organic farming lower yields and
productivity lead to lower earnings which would be fairly
compensated by lower expenses and a high price for the produce,
would actually suit the marginal farmer more than his rich
counterpart.

Marketing model:
Based on my interviews and discussions at the farm as well as organic bazaar
level the key to successful propagation of organic concepts lies in
development of an effective supply chain that would deliver the produce to
consumption markets in cities and metros where awareness and interest in
organic produce is growing on a daily basis.

In fact during my discussions with Mr. Hari of The Foundation for organic
agriculture the major bottle neck currently was highlighted to be availability
of produce, despite there being considerable interest in organic produce at the
consumer level.

Hence there exists a need to develop a strong collection, logistic and


marketing operation to make organic farming viable at the micro level.

This marketing organization could actually evolve as a second layer from the
primary micro co-operative layer suggested above under production model.
The various micro level co-operatives at the production level could in turn be
encouraged to form the next layer of a marketing co-operative under the
guidance of CIKS.

The major role of this marketing co-operative so formed would be to


establish collection points for produce and to transport them to the nearest
and most profitable consumption areas .
My learning’s:

My learning through this project has been many faceted. The project gave me a
perspective of rural India which is starkly different from the views propagated by the
media.
India being an agro based economy , this project gave me an opportunity to gain hands-
on experience and insight into the macro economic perspective from a micro point of
view.
It also gave me a chance to improve my lingual skills in colloquial Tamil through
interactions with local farmers and rural folk.

• I take this opportunity to thank the entire CIKS in general and CIKS –Sirzahi in
specific for so willingly helping me and sharing their knowledge which was
crucial in completeing this project .

• I thank DR V.N. Rayudu of TNPCB(Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board )

• Sudhakar Anna of Toxic Link (CAG) who helped me to a great extent with my
analysis and secondary data.

• Mr. Hari from the foundation of organic farmers and Mr. Krishna.

• And finally all the farmers, employees of the bio pesticide unit , Rajguru anna
(auto driver ) and everyone else who helped me in my project .