|The paddy is almost 6 feet high!|
Mahesh, a 35 year old youth farmer is practitioner of Zero Budget Natural Farming on his two acre plot. He is also a youth member of the farmer movement KRRS and dons its symbolic green shawl. Mahesh went to a Zero Budget Natural Farming training camp two years ago and happened to meet Prasanna Murthy, one of the conveners and trainers of ZBNF movement. Mahesh was inspired after the training session and started to do some experiments on his paddy field two years ago.
At first he didn’t succeed with a local rice variety called “deva mallige”, “my mistake was that the distance was too close between the crops. But, the next year I put a distance of almost one foot between seedlings. The yield growth has been phenomenal.” Mahesh has been growing the local ‘rajmudi’ variety. The cost of cultivation is almost 15000 Rs less per acre compared to chemical farming and everything he earned has been a profit . As he has just two acres of land he could do all the labor work himself or by taking help from his own family members. As there are no external inputs in Zero Budget farming, Mahesh’s expenses were very low.
Mahesh is now an inspiration to many other young farmers in the district and at least four other KRRS youth farmers are now shifting to zero budget farming in the area with support from Mahesh.
Mahesh has never met or seen Palekar, the main teacher of the ZBNF movement in person. “This is interesting,” says Chukki Nanjundasway of Amrita Bhoomi farmer training school and a woman farmer leader from KRRS. “In our experience Palekar has a great influence on the farmers. But there are many who shift to ZBNF without attending Palekar’s talks also. They read books on ZBNF, exchange with other local farmers, meet the other trainers, and they become major experts through their own experiments. Mahesh is a living example of farmer innovation and I am proud to see a young farmer like him succeed.”
Mahesh himself does not have any problems with marketing and has found many loyal local consumers who buy his local rice varieties. “I don’t need to sell to any particular organic market. I think there is a problem with credibility there, many times fake certifications are given by paying bribe, and sometime farmers sell for a higher premium and the quality can be questionable.” Mahesh says that he prefers to have direct relationships with the local consumers in his own village and they are welcome to visit his farm anytime.
Recently the Karnataka agriculture department organized a Field Day in Mahesh’s farm. “They really appreciated his work. Mahesh’s paddy is amazing- its almost 6 feet high and one can disappear in it. I have never seen paddy like this in my life,”said Chukki Nanjundaswamy.