CUTTACK: Organic farming techniques of Natabar Sarangi, a noted farmer and seed collector of the district, have found place in Class IX curriculum of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Natabar’s techniques have been taken as an example in ‘Indian Agriculture’ subject of Social Studies books of the two States where students are now studying how to grow high-yielding indigenous varieties of paddy without using chemical fertilizers and pesticide.
Natabar, an octogenarian, is a resident of Narisho village in Niali. A retired school teacher, Natabar has been practising organic farming for more than a decade and has been able to conserve more than 400 varieties of indigenous paddy seeds which are now on the verge of extinction.
He says some of his natural varieties yield over 20 quintals per acre, much higher than the so-called ‘high-yielding’ varieties that farmers generally grow using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. And he spends much less by using organic compost and natural pesticides. The main ingredients of his bio-fertilizer are cow dung, waste vegetables, fruits and greens which are available daily free of cost.
Earlier, Natabar used chemical fertilizers and pesticides after being lured by some officials and traders. However, one of his labourers engaged in sprinkling Carbofuran (a highly toxic pesticide) fainted in an hour of application of the chemical. He also found scores of dead snakes, snails, frogs and earthworms in his field and realised how these chemicals poisoned the natural system. Natabar then switched to natural farming.So far, Natabar has been able to preserve more than 400 varieties of paddy seeds which he grew in his own five acres land and those in the vicinity.
Natabar says the seeds, which are pest resilient, require less water and can survive in adverse weather condition and are suitable for organic farming. Moreover, the varieties of paddy produced from indigenous seeds through organic farming have a special taste, aroma and high nutritional value. Many of these seeds are also resistant to drought, flood and saline water. Using these indigenous seeds considerably decreases the cost of farming too, he says.
Currently, Natabar is producing traditional seeds on about 12 acres of land at his village for demonstration purpose. Natabar, who has set up ‘Desi Dhana Chasa Gabesana Kendra’ (a research centre) near Kundhei Canal side in Niali, also imparts training to farmers on techniques of organic farming techniques.