HYDERABAD: Shortage of seeds, high prices set by dealers and middle men, lack of enough quantity of seeds, and lack of money – are all factors that contribute to lack of seeds, which means lack of crop for thousands of farmers across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. In an attempt to better this situation, Rythu Bandhu magazine, Hyderabad-based Telugu magazine that works for the empowerment of farmers, in association with Nest Foundation, a year old organisation with the same philosophy is conducting the first seed packet challenge contest. This, especially for benefit of poor and small farmers.
“The crop season is over and we this is a process to ready farmers for the next crop season, and ensure that they have enough for the next season,” says Vamshi Mohan who is a co-ordinator from the Rythu Bazaar magazine.
Focussing on assisting small and marginal farmers, they have opened a contest for all people and organisations associated with the agriculture and allied fields, including seed manufacturers.
“We begin with collecting promises from these seed manufacturers where they tell us what quantity of seeds they will be able to provide,” explains Vamshi which provides them with an opportunity to put forth the quality of their brand.
Apart from this, companies will also supply organisers with seed packets and the technical literature that helps in enabling the best practices for growing that particular crop.
“The seeds and the brands will be registered, after they have been checked and ensured that they are clean and pesticide free,” informs Vamshi, adding that the state agricultural department has informally agreed to help them with the safety checks. “There will be local agricultural officers taking care of this,” he assures.
Once the seeds are collected, beneficiary farmers are provided with the option of repaying the foundation with more or less or equal amount of seeds according to the yield. “This is however voluntary,” points out Vamshi.
And the seeds that are collected will be used to expand this activity further.
The seeds will be distributed to potential farmers free of cost. “In addition, they will be given advice and training on proper crop management to ensure best crop yields and earn good income. Technical assistance will also be arranged,” informs Vamshi. These are part of the regular activities that Rythubandhu and Nest foundation deliver among farming communities.
“We also emphasize a lot on organic farming,” adds Vamshi.
They have held awareness programmes among farmers to address issues like safety on the field, farmer suicides, and also the invention and usage of new technology and farming techniques.
The contest is open and will be on till the next cropping season begins. The seed packet distribution campaign will take place with the help of farmer cooperatives and farmer welfare committees apart from NGOs working for farmers and the government agencies. This is to ensure the widest distribution of seed packets to the poorest farmers.
The contest is an opportunity for seed manufacturing companies to enlarge their brand name, along with providing relief to suffering farmers.