Fbae Logo
Home | | Support Us | Contact Us
Goals & Objectives Our Position False Propaganda Important Publications Important Links Events News Biosafety
Fbae Header Home





Organic Cultivation and Non-Pesticidal Management at Yaenabaavi, Andhra Pradesh, India: 1. The Story of the Farmers
Prof. C Kameswara Rao
Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education,
Bangalore, India
krao@vsnl.com, www.fbae.org, www.fbaeblog.org

Yaenabaavi (Eenabaavi, Enabavi), a hamlet of the Kalyanam Revenue village, Lingala Ghanapur Mandal, Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh, has recently become famous.  A Press Release of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), Secunderabad, announced that ‘Enabavi village goes GM free; (the village) says that food security has not suffered by shifting to organic’ (GM Watch, October 12, 2006).  The Hindu (October12, 2006) pronounced that ‘Enabavi farmers create history’ and NDTV (October 13, 2006) called this place ‘An island of prosperity’.  These three reports are more or less identical.   The unbelievable story of Yaenabaavi made some wonder if this place were a ‘heaven on earth’.

Curious to know the ground realities first hand, Professor Ronald Herring (CornellUniversity, Ithaca, USA), Dr S Shantharam (Biologistics International, Ellicott City, USA) and I went to Yaenabaavi, on December 16, 2006.   

Yaenabaavi is proclaimed as ‘chemical and GM free’ hamlet.  The Centre for Rural Operations and Programmes Society (CROPS), Janagam, and the Centre for World Solidarity (CSW), Secunderabad, monitor the agricultural operations at Yaenabaavi and other places in the Warangal and Khammam Districts in Andhra Pradesh.  The CSA closely interacts with the farmers and guides them, with support from Aide à l'enfance de l'Inde (AEI), Luxembourg.   Before going to Yaenabaavi, we visited CSA’s office in Secunderabad and discussed this hamlet, among other issues.

Mr Lingayya (mobile 91-9848612190), a social worker with CROPS, guided us to the fields and arranged to meet with over a dozen farmers at Yaenabaavi.

The ‘Non-Pesticidal Management Programme (NPM)’, the main thrust at Yaenabaavi, was launched during 1993-94 when there was a devastating attack of red hairy caterpillar on the crops grown in the dry land areas, particularly cotton.   A mixture of water extract/decoction of neem, tobacco, chillies, garlic and panchagavya (cow’s urine and cow dung) were sprayed four or five times on the crops and this ‘effectively controlled all pests’.   Tobacco decoction is also effective against jassids, working probably more as a repellent, rather than a toxin.  This treatment costs about Rs. 500 to 600 per acre (Rs. 45 are equivalent to one US dollar), as against the cost of chemical pesticides costing about Rs. 5000 to 6000.   Subsequently, the use of tobacco, garlic and chillies was discontinued, due to the higher cost of these ingredients, but the use of neem and panchagavya continued.  

Only green manure and vermicompost are used here as a component of organic farming.

About 300 acres are in organic and NPM cultivation at Yaenabaavi, involving about 50 families constituting the hamlet population of about 200. Some women too are farmers.  They are all small farmers, most owning less than five acres.

Rice, tobacco, cotton, maize, red gram, green gram, sesame, chillies and vegetables are cultivated.   Non-Bt cotton varieties Banni, Durga, Superbunni, and Pavan are preferred and Bt cotton is abhorred. 

The System for Rice Intensification (SRI) is implemented at Yaenabaavi.  The farmers prefer SRI, though it requires some practice in transplanting rice seedlings, is more labour intensive and a little more time consuming than conventional cultivation, for its two main advantages of savings on planting seed and irrigation water.  As per the farmers’ claim, SRI requires only 2 kg of seed as against 50 kg per acre in conventional practice and water usage is only half of the conventional rice irrigation.   The farmers feel that weeding, even with a mechanical weeder, is a hard job in SRI, but becomes manageable with some practice.  

Yaenabaavi receives about 55 to 75 cm of rain fall between June and September.   Water harvest and conservation schemes are in place and there are electric pump sets to irrigate the crops, more particularly the rice crop.  But electric power supply is limited to four or five hours a day, available only quite late in the nights.  Dependence on rain fall is high.

Some organic produce lovers come to Yaenabaavi to buy the products, particularly the vegetables.  Otherwise, the produce is taken to markets in Hyderabad for sale as organic commodities, for which there is some demand.

The farmers earn about Rs. 5,000 net income per acre but are optimistic about improving crop yields under organic and NPM practices.  Tobacco fetches more income per acre than other crops, with yields of six to seven quintals, each costing about Rs. 4,000, but requires more water and other inputs. 

Until five years ago, Yaenabaavi farmers were heavily indebted to the local money lenders but are now debt free and invest on cultivation inputs without borrowing. To the question, if they were receiving any subsidy, in cash or kind, from CROPS, CWS, CAS and AEI, the answer was an emphatic ‘No, only advice and guidance’.

Yaenabaavi is locally involved in seed development, except for non-Bt cotton.  Since all crops are under only organic and NPM cultivation practices, Yaenabaavi farmers are trying to obtain Organic Certification of their produce, unlike some other villages such as Punukula (Khammam district) where only NPM (no organic cultivation), is practiced.

Yaenabaavi farmers have started a Farmer Resource Centre to help the farmers of other villages in the area.