KALPETTA: Undeterred by the mid-August deluge that washed away large tracts of their farmland, organic farmers in Wayanad are charting a revival path. Small groups of organic farmers from the district have now started roping in cultivators across the border to propagate the eco-friendly mode of farming and reap rich dividends.
Farmers under the collective Green Eco Natural farm in Sulthan Bathery have stepped up cultivation in Gundulpet, bordering Kerala. The objectives are two-fold. The first is to create a steady demand in Wayanad market for organic agri produce, which witnessed a slump after the flood. And the second is to erase the ‘pesticide laden’ tag from Gundulpet vegetables by encourging farmers there to embrace the organic mode.
Already, water sources in Nilgiri bioshpere have felt the harmful effects of pesticide use. During heavy rain, the large quantities of pesticides are washed into water bodies contaminating drinking water of local people.
According to the organic farming proponents, farmers in the area have themselves realised the harm caused by pesticides and are coming forward to adopt organic farming. At present, the focus is on cultivating different varieties of paddy, vegetables and fruits.
According to the Agriculture department, at least 2,250 heactare - which has been officially certified by the government as organic farmland in Wayanad - was damaged in the heavy rain and ensuing floods in August. The extent of damage is much more if organic farms of private groups are also taken into account.
In order to ensure transparency and earn the goodwill of buyers, the group of farmers are planning to launch local committees comprising cultivators, distributors and consumers. “The committee will play a key role in fixing price of organic produce and also ensure that it is farmed in eco-friendly manner. This will go a long way in attracting more and more consumers to organic produce,” said Stanley Augustine, founder-member of the Green Eco initiative.
Stanley, along with teacher-turned-organic farmer T J Mathew, is engaged in spreading eco-friendly practices among farmers in Wayanad and across the border.