Training Modules

    Concepts and Experience in Sustainable Agriculture

    The same philosophy of holism guides the approach of VK-NARDEP to sustainable agriculture also. Its approach is not piece-meal approach but a united approach to the problems of the farm as a whole and is particularly specific to the small farmers who are today facing the brunt of increasingly cost-intensive and energy-intensive ‘modern’ agriculture.

    In sustainable agriculture, VK-NARDEP uses a five fold approach in developing the suitable technologies for the farmers. This consists of:

    •    Effective harvesting of sunlight
    •    Efficient Water Utilization
    •    Integrated Nutrient management
    •    Integrated Pest management
    •    Promoting Biodiversity in and around the field
    In tune with the above five principles, the following are the technologies VK-NARDEP has developed and propagated to the farming communities:

    a)    Vermi compost
    b)Backyard Azolla cultivation as bio-feed and bio-fertilizer
    c)    Biogas slurry based manure
    d)    Multi-tier cropping system
    e)    Pheromone and Light trap systems for pest management

    Each of these technologies have been taken up by farming communities and round the year training camps have ensured that always NGOs and farmers’ associations, Cooperatives of marginal dairy farmers have received the technology training.

    Backyard Azolla cultivation in particular needs special mention. In 1999 VK-NARDEP discovered the potential of Azolla as bio-feed and soon it developed a backyard Azolla cultivation technology package specially designed for small and marginal farmers.

    In 2000, VK-NARDEP conducted the first workshop on Azolla bio-feed for the officials of MILMA Kerala sponsored by NDDB. The same year nutrient content of Azolla was published after a detailed study.  In 2001, we conducted Training programmes for NGO’s milk Co- operatives of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In Kerala, we trained many NGOs. The government of Kerala with the help of VK-NARDEP provided block-level training in the technology. The table below provides the list of NGOs and extent of technology dissemination done by VK-NARDEP.

    1. Backyard Azolla cultivation technology propagated by us has indeed stirred a white revolution for the marginal dairy farmers of Kerala and has reached more than 50,000 farmers. Now the technology has spread to other states as well.

    2. Equally important is the work on Biogas Slurry based Manure (BgM). This  technology package developed by VK-NARDEP is based on the philosophy of famous Gandhian economist J.C. Kumarappa, who was the first person to proclaim the importance of spent biogas slurry as nutrient rich organic manure. In order to disseminate biogas technology as a way of life of the farmer, VK-NARDEP has evolved a package that uses effectively the biogas slurry and develops many cost-effective backyard technologies for agricultural inputs.

    3. In the village of Puliangudi, Tirunelveli district, where VK-NARDEP has installed biogas plants, the slurry usage for manure has made farmers give up chemical fertilizers and take up organic farming. Voluntarily biogas users of the farming community have formed the organic farmers club and are now providing the ‘do-how’ of organic farming techniques to neighbouring villages.

    4. VK-NARDEP is also studying the use of bio-fuel from non-edible oil seeds. Already a 1 cu.m biogas plant is being trial run on Neem cake and a generator is being run on neem oil.

    5. Low volume biogas plant innovation by VK-NARDEP has made it possible for even marginal dairy farmers to have biogas plant constructed.
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