Inspiring Story of India’s White Revolution
Ajit Kanitkar tells the fascinating story of AMUL – the White Revolution that moved India from being a net importer of dairy products in 1950s to a net exporter in a span of just over 50 years.
It was sometime in 1992 that we, a family of three (me, my wife and our three-year-old son), were walking on that road in the town of Anand in Kheda district of Gujarat. It was the only big road that connected the Anand railway station to my workplace, Institute of Rural Management (IRMA). IRMA, where I was a faculty between 1992-1995 was located away from the town, close to the campus of the Gujarat Agriculture University also known as Khetiwadi Campus. It was on one of those evenings that my son, who had started his schooling in Anandalaya (Home of Joy) noticed the blue-neon sign display outside the dairy that processed milk and milk products. “A for AMUL!” – he screamed almost in an excitement and tone that might have resembled “eureka”. We also noticed the familiar signage but now with a new vision. “Yes, it is A for AMUL, A for AMUL” – we joined in the chorus. It is almost twenty years after that evening but the memories of that evening and our stay in Anand are still vivid in our minds. ‘AMUL’ introduced my son to the world of alphabets. It also educated me! It introduced me to the fascinating story of India’s development that many of us recall as the White Revolution, a revolution that moved this country from being a net importer of dairy and dairy products in 1950s to a net exporter in a span of just over 50 years. The story of AMUL and the subsequent white revolution is almost like a modern-day Hindi movie thriller with characters that represent many dimensions of our society, a plot with twists and turns, and a story that still continues to unfold every single day, even today. There were towering an selfless political leaders like Tribhuvandas Patel who were inpired and advised by Sardar Vallabbhai Patel and Morarji Desai, who laid the foundation of this mass movement that mobilized thousands of farmers later. There is Dr. Verghese Kurien, a technocrat trained outside India who did not even know the difference between a cow and a buffalo (in his own words) in the beginning, who voluntarily succumbed to the persuasion of Tribhuvandas to continue to stay in Anand even today, after his reluctant and mandated stay by the government of India in exchange of an award of a scholarship was over in early 1950s. There were farmers who felt cheated and exploited at the hands of the then multinationals like Polson dairy and in frustration spilled
the milk on the road as their way of Satyagraha to record their protest. They were told by the wise politicians of those times that “they should come together, organize themselves and try to reach their milk to the then Bombay market that will fetch them a better price.” There were power-hungry and self-serving Babus of the Government in the various Bhavans of Delhi, sweet talking professionals in the bilateral and multilateral aid agencies and ruthless corporate managers in India and outside, who felt threatened with the growing success of this farmer-centric cooperative movement. They made every possible attempt, tacit and overt, to scuttle the splendid growth this project was showing to serve their self-interests but in the end gave up against the staunch leadership of Dr. Kurien and his colleagues.
And then there was this prime minister of this country Lal Bahadur Shastri who heard te story of succesful , ‘AMUL’ experiment and wanted to experience personally what it meant for farmers. He decided to spend a night in a village close to Anand as an ordinary citizen of the country throwing all protocol to the winds, his host not knowing who his guest was for that night. Having seen the miracle of hundreds of small farmers pouring the milk in small quantities
of ½ or 1 litre next day to their own institution, the Dudhani Mandali (a milk cooperative as called in Gujarati), he saw the transformative potential of this movement. This visit heralded the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), with a mandate of replicating the Anand-AMUL pattern of a three-tier cooperative structure all over the country. The peration Flood I, II and III translated this potential in reality and the rest os history. ribhuvan Das Patel and Dr. Kurien became the new national icons and AMUL, the White Revolution is independent India’s splendid achievement, that all of us should be proud of.
The AMUL Pattern
There were a number of milestones in the long journey from a country that depended on imported milk products to a country that became the largest producer of milk. Many observers of that time would recall that at the time of the country’s independence, the
scenario for dairy industry was bleak. The Governmentmanaged
and subsidized city milk schemes were almost in shambles. Milk was rationed and citizens were issued limited quota that privileged
them to buy this essential food item. However, things started
changing, AMUL providing the drive for this change. In the first few years to be precise from 1946 till 1960s, it was the formation and strengthening of the Kheda (also known as Kaira) district ooperative milk union. The popular name goes by AMUL. In those days, Tribhuvandas Patel the farmer leader from Kheda moved
from village to village, often on horseback, convincing the farmers to organize themselves into village level cooperatives. The members, belonging to all castes and creed came together and organized themselves into a formal village level cooperative society. Every morning and evening, they brought in small quantities of milk that was later transported to a district place.
The district cooperative milk union was the second tier in the cooperative structure. The union owned a processing plant that processed raw milk collected from village cooperatives who were its members. The processed milk and milk products were then sold to urban markets as far as Bombay (now Mumbai). Thanks to the vision and foresight of Dr. Kurien, the immense challenges in marketing of a perishable commodity like milk were solved by converting the liquid milk into milk products and also connecting the farmer organizations with the market that was ready to offer a decent price. As one marketer later put it, “Bombay market was a bottomless pit and lapped up any amount of supplies that traveled overnight, thanks to the railway network that connected Anand to Mumbai.”
Many readers probably do not know that there are at least six to eight ‘AMULs’ in Gujarat! As the Kheda district Union started flourishing other district co-operative unions. came into being. They were inspired by the success and the potential that the AMUL (later also known as the Anand model of Cooperatives) model offered. As many AMULs Started flourihing in other parts of Gujarat. It was Dr. Kurien’s statesmanship that forged a long-lasting collaboration in a situation that had the potential of becoming a destructive competition. Dr. Kurien convinced the leadership of the district cooperative unions in Gujarat that while it made sense to establish multiple entities all across Gujarat to espond to the needs of the farmers, they needed to market their products under a common brand, a brand that was shared by all collectively. “United we stand, divided we fall” – so easy preach but so difficult to practise in a real world. But the sagacity of the farmer leader of Gujarat who understood the perils of competing brands stuck together. Thus, ‘AMUL’ became the flagship brand of all the gujrat co-operatives.
Another important landmark in the journey was replication of the ‘AMUL’ or the Anand pattern of cooperatives all over the country. In an interview that appeared in India Today (December 31, 2007), Dr. Kurien shares the dramatic events that led to the formation of a national institution National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) that became the torch-bearer of India’s white revolution for the next two decades. NDDB’s sole mandate was to replicate the Anand pattern (read AMUL) of cooperatives all over the country. In Dr. Kurien’s words, “It was the mid-60s when I got a call from senior Gujarat cadre IPS officer informing me that union Home Secretary I.P. Singh was in Gujarat and wanted to take a look at the operative milk model at Anand. Singh was very impressed when he visited Anand and saw the impact of the movement. He asked me why this model, which had created a win-win situation for both the farmers and consumers, couldn’t be replicated at the national level. I told him that my proposal titled ‘Operation Flood’ was facing bureaucratic hurdles and the officials of the Union Agriculture ministry were not interested in it. Singh was surprised and he promised to put everything in order. On reaching Delhi, he arranged an informal meeting with the Union secretaries and asked me to give a presentation on my proposed scheme. At the meeting, I explained to them how the scheme aimed at recovering its initial cost by asking European countries to donate excess powdered milk and butter oil, which they otherwise disposed of as waste, to us. I also informed them that seeking aid for the project was a short-term arrangement aimed at a self-sufficient and farner friendly model for India. In other words, once the model was fully operational, financial aid for the project was to end. Singh, who was already keen on implementing the model at the national level, urged other bureaucrats to lend their support. And thanks to his efforts, the project not only took off but started moving at a fast pace. “Once the project got the clearance, my next task was
to get Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) approval
for the proposed cooperative milk model. Accompanied by the then
Union Agriculture Secretary B.R. Patel, I went to Rome to negotiate
with FAO for excess powder milk and butter oil from the European
countries and to explain how it will benefit and make farmers in India independent. We met several delegates to garner support for our proposal. Most of them resisted but two stood out- Australia and Pakistan.
The lady heading the Australian delegation was initially
opposed to our proposal because she was of the opinion
that India would become dependent on aid. But on hearing
she changed her stance. The Pakistan Delegates on the other hand, copied our proposal and presented it to FAO. But thankfully, our proposal had been cleared by then. In Rome, Patel was aked the question how the project would function without the government’s involvement. To which he replied that the government would give me five years for the project and in
case it failed, they ‘would shoot me down’.” What AMUL did to Gujarat in the 1950s and the 1960s, the NDDB in implementing the Operation Flood did to the entire country in the next thirty years!
Unknown Faces Behind White Revolution
The human side behind the success of AMUL is rather unknown to the outside world. The AMUL story is full of heroic deeds of literally hundreds of professionals consisting of dairy technologists, veterinary doctors, extension workers, marketing managers and above all thousands of farmers who all worked with grit and determination when India was not ‘so shining’, not only for the external world but also for its own citizens. These were the decades of 1960s and 1970s when songs like Mera Joota Hai Japani ruled over the public psyche. But these people had an amazing Hindustani dil that made the AMUL story possible. There is no dearth of literature on Dr. Kurien, the architect of the white revolution. But there are literally hundreds of unsung heroes, his many colleagues, who worked shoulder-to-shoulder with him to give shape to the dream of making India self-sufficient in milk and milk products. This human side behind teh success of AMUL is rather unknown to the outside world.
The town of Anand when we lived was full of such stories about these people. There was this gutsy dairy technologist Mr. H. M. Dalaya whose professional skills made it possible to use the surplus milk collected during the winter month. Many Indian and international experts had dissuaded him saying that it was impossible to make milk powder out of buffalo milk given its high fat content. No such technology existed before and he should not waste his efforts in inventing one. But he persisted and succeeded! It was a major breakthrough in the initial years of AMUL because it removed the most important bottleneck in collecting liquid milk. AMUL could collect technically any amount of milk from its farmer-members as long as it had the facility to process the ‘raw/fresh’ milk into milk powder and thus extending the shelf life of milk from a few hours to at least a few years. When we were in Anand, there was a sort of competition among the AMULs of Gujarat to create records in milk procurement. I clearly recall when one of the managers from Mehsana District Union (the dairy is named Dudhsagar, Sea of Milk!) politely corrected my factual mistake in the presentation. AMUL was no longer the largest procurer of milk. He told me that it was Mehsana which created a new record of sorts by collecting 11 lakh litres of milk per day, overtaking AMUL’s score of 10 lakhs litres!
In the initial days of AMUL, there was one Mr. Chotani who was spearheading the team of AMUL, visiting villages in Gujarat and trying to convince farmers that they use a better variety of cattle feed so that the productivity of the cattles could increase. Farmers did not seem to be convinced. They thought that the traditional feeding practices (green and/or dry fodder) were the best; the feed from the factory would harm their precious livestock. In one meeting in a village, Dr. Chotani began addressing the meeting of farmers chewing a few tablets of the feed, the feed that he wanted the farmers to adopt! Just as a cattle would do, he spent the next one hour chewing and explaining to the farmers that he did not die after eating that tablet. No further convincing was needed!
And there is story of another officer of NDDB. Dr. Malhotra returned to Anand after completing his three years assignment in Punjab spreading the message of Operation Flood. One day, Dr. Kurien had to face an interesting delegationof farmers in punjab. There were sikhs farmers wielding swords outside their office in Anand. They were angry with Dr. Kurien and wanted to know why such an efficient and farmer friendly officer like Dr. Malhotra was moved out of punjab. They wanted him to be posted again in Punjab.
Dr. Amrita Patel was the first woman veterinary graduate who opted to work with the farmers in Kheda district. She later on shouldered many responsibilities and is currently the chairperson of NDDB. There were many veterinary doctors, who in the initial days of Operation Flood travelled miles at night to attend to an ailing cow or buffalo just in return for a grateful smile of the owner of that animal. I had the fortune of meeting a number of these individuals during my stay in Anand. They were from all states, different religions, varied age groups but the common bond that brought them together was the magic and the persuasive vision of Dr. Kurien. Operation Flood is a success not only of Dr. Kurien but also of his professional colleagues and managers.
AMUL’s Contribution : More Than Just Milk
Apart from demonstrated and quantifiable results in milk production, milk availability and so on, it brought about and facilitated a new paradigm in development interventions. AMUL demonstrated that a solid partnership among farmers and professional managers personified in Tribhuvandas Patel and Verghese Kurien was the way forward if the coutry believed in working with its farmers. The AMUL model placed farmers, its milk producer members, at the centre and all the rest at periphery. Thanks again to the ‘buziness’ mindset of the Gujaratis that places progress an pragmatism above everything else . Till very recently, politics and politicians were kept at an arm’s distance (unlike its neighbouring state of Maharashtra, where sugar cooperative barons used the instrument of cooperatives to further their political careers, at the cost of the health of the cooperative enterprises). The dairy cooperatives in Gujarat and many other states grew in strength without having to deal with the politics of politicians! AMUL showed a third alternative that was democratic, decentralized and yet had the potential to be efficient and sustainable, an alternative that was not lethargic and insensitive such as that of the ‘public sector and profiteering and exploitative like the ‘Private sector’.
The cooperatives were owned by the farmer-milk producers and managed by professionals that were accountable to them. The surplus at the end of the business transactions were distributed to producers in addition to the remunerative prices that they received for the milk-produce. It was a ‘new model’ of development. The AMUL model also demonstrated that farmerfriendly structures need not be against consumer interests. While it rewarded farmers with handsome procurement price that encouraged higher fat percentage quality milk (unadulterated); the urban consumer had access to fresh milk round the year. The AMUL pattern cooperatives produced butter, ghee, paneer, milk powder, ice-cream, chocolates and even traditional sweets like rosgulla and shrikhand that delighted the customers with consistently high quality tastes. The advertisements that featured the AMUL girl dotted the city landscapes; it established new standards in creative advertising, literally year after year, and even today. AMUL is one of the top brands of the country today recalled fondly by consumers all across the country. It all began in 1966 when Sylvester daCunha, then the managing director of the advertising agency, ASP, clinched the amount for AMUL butter. The butter, which had been launched in 1945, had a staid, boring image, primarily because the earlier advertising agency which was in charge of the account preferred to stick to routine, corporate ads. For 30 odd years the ‘Utterly Butterly’ girl has managed to keep her fan following intact. So much so that the advertisements are now ready to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for being the longest running campaign ever. The ultimate compliment to the butter came when a British company launched a butter and called it Utterly Butterly. Last week, AMUL came up with yet another advertisement coinciding with the visit of the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, its punch line aptly titled ‘wonton more maska?’ (want more buttering?) During our stay in Anand, we must have visited the AMUL dairy at least a dozen times. It was like a spiritual ritual that we looked forward to whenever we had visitors and guests. We would visit the AMUL dairy (factory) in the morning. There were many visitors like us from all parts of the country, men and women of all ages, farmers with their families. AMUL staff would escort us in small groups around the factory showing how the liquid milk collected from the villages of Kheda district in the morning was processed. Behind the glass partitions, tons and tons of butter was being produced and packed and we watched that scene in awe. At the end of the visit, all of us were offered a glass of fresh milk! What a way to conclude the visit! But more was in the offing of the evening. We would often go to a near-by village to see the functioning of the mandali (meaning cooperative in Guajarati). At that time, often the only building with a twostoried concrete structure was that of themandali. Women and men of the village would have lined in front of their cooperative and the business was brisk. Each member collected his or her ‘passbook’ after pouring the milk, a passbook that faithfully recorded milk poured, fat percentage and the money due to the farmer. The site of a mandali was as inspiring as the dairy of the morning.
Institution-Building at the Core
The AMUL and the NDDB experiment is an outstanding innovation of modern times. It showed how aid, if used creatively and with diligence, can galvanise a dairy economy of the entire country unlike in other countries of the global south where massiv aid flows permanently disabled, and in some cases wiped out the local enterprise and the entrepreneurship. Dr. Kurien and his team zealously protected the nstitutional autonomy of NDDB by deliberately keeping it away from the plethora of Bhavans and epartments of power-hungry Delhi and locating it to Anand, a remote corner of the country; where no bureaucrat would have the courage to lobby for posting leaving the corridors of power! NDDB in Anand drew from the immense expertise that AMUL had accumulated. It was a living laboratory that offered many lessons not just for Gujarat but for the country and NDDB amplified the voice of the Anand pattern of cooperatives.
Dr. Kurien and NDDB had to fight relentlessly with the politicians and officials of many state governments that wanted technical expertise and financial resources from NDDB but never let function the cooperatives as institutions that were autonomous. A true cooperative movement that was not subservient to the political masters was perceived as a threat by all of them and in the process Dr. Kurien and his team often became the ‘bad boys’. Reforming the almost defunct dairy development departments and urban milk supply schemes of many state governments was a thankless task that Dr. Kurien and NDDB accepted but only on their terms, terms that allowed emergence of a truly farmer-centric cooperative movement. NDDB management had to also face lobbies and interest groups that did not want development of indigenous dairy machinery and packaging equipment, which challenged their complete monopoly of the trade. Thanks to Dr. Kurien, indigenous manufacturing enterprise was established that produced and marketedvaccines for cattle at one third the price offered by a few multinational enterprises built institutions. Indeed, modern India can give credit to this master institution-builder. It was the entire ecosystem that grew around milk and the milk capital – Anand. It was not just the cooperatives and milk processing infrastructure but a host of other institutions were conceived, thanks to the positive spin offs.
The indigenous dairy machinery equipment manufacturing facility flourished in and around the township of Vallabh Vidyanagar, as also the low-cost, high-quality vaccine manufacturing facility that threatened the overpriced multinational corporations. New advances were made in processing and packaging echnologies. A rail milk tanker designed specially to transport liquid milk (when the outside temperature was at 45 degree in peak summer months) travelled over 48 hours from Anand and yet successfully stored and delivered milk-supplies at 4 degrees at Kolkata. A new technology marvel! New cattle feed factories were established, the country’s human capital increased with hundreds of professionals qualifying in multiple disciplines such as dairy technology, food processing, and veterinary sciences. The AMUL model was also tried out with varying success in other sectors such as groundnut oil and fruits and vegetables.
When Dr. Kurien realized that he needed a talent pool to mange the fledging cooperatives enterprise being set up across the country, he approached his cousin, Dr. Ravi Mathai, at IIM Ahmedabad, hoping that he would be able to recruit and retain professionals from this prestigious institution. It wasn’t the case to be. The challenge gave birth to a new institution – Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA), an institution whose mandate was to train professional managers who will work in the cooperative and rural
enterprises. I had the priviledge of being a faculty member in IRMA. Many IRMA alumni do us proud when I see them across the length and the breadth of the country contributing their skills in many development organizations. Many more IRMA-type institutions were later set up all over the country.
IRMA was indeed a trend-setter in many ways. It ‘placed’ its students in villages for over two months as a part of the two year curriculum. Often, the faculty accompanied students and engaged in a collaborative research. While the academic and the political community in India in 2010 is debating about the need to have an ‘Indian’ version of a convocation and getting rid of the colonial legacy of wearing gowns and so on; we in IRMA had a solemn convocation ceremony as early as 1980s. Everyone including the chief guest, the faculty and the graduating students dressed in white kurta/salwar kameez wearing kolhapuri chappals. The convocation was a solemn occasion when the chief guest blessed the graduating students with an Angavastram! I have vivid memories of those convocation ceremonies. The AMUL story continues even when some of its founding members and professionals have retired from the scene. The GCMMF with its flagship AMUL brand, had a turnover of close to 10,000 crores per annum in the recent years making it the largest food product marketing company in the country. AMUL consistently topped as the most popular brand.
The institution-building story of the AMUL model will not be complete without reference to the recently established Tribhuvandas Foundation (TF). The genesis of TF is equally dramatic. It was set up much later in the evolution of AMUL in the memory of its founder. The story goes like this – In one of the general body meetings of the cooperative union, AMUL’s management was challenged by a farmer from the audience, “Sir, you have taken so much efforts for our cattle. You have placed mobile teams of eterinary professionals that reach our villages within hours if a distress call is given to them through the wireless system about the ill-health of the cattle.
But what about us? What about our ill-health?” The question stirred the management. The TF was a response to provide medical services to thousands of AMUL members, especially to children and women in villages. Its network is spread over Kheda district with a hospital in Anand.
Some Blemishes, Shortcomings and Controversies
There are many authors, who have praised and adored the AMUL experiment, but there are equal number of critics who claim that Operation Flood and the AMUL model has done more harm than good. These critics (call them eternal cynics?) argue that the model promoted intensive dairying compared to the earlier dairying practices prevalent in Indian villages. The high input dairying model replaced the diverse local breed of animals with artificially inseminated breed that was more vulnerable in our climatic conditions, it needed intensive care. They argued that the model promoted feeding practices that meant a constant burden on scarce water and other natural resources that generate limited green fodder. More importantly, some of these critics tried to show the imbalance that AMUL story caused by taking away the
precious milk from rural areas to feed the ever-expanding urban population, thereby depriving rural children and infants of their only source of nutritional diet. Statistics is cited showing how while on one hand, per capita milk consumption on an average has increased, the same when disaggregated for rural and urban population has not changed. Dr. Kurien and his team saw a ‘conspiracy theory’ in these allegations. They listened to this criticism for over thirty years, saying that the international lobby interested in promoting exports and dumping their surplus milk in developing countries was at play. They ridiculed this criticism citing similar examples when indigenous efforts that could lead to self-reliance and
economic freedom for countries like India would always be jeopardized by the so-called world supreme powers. India’s experience in nuclear and space science apartheid till the recent years makes one believe in Dr. Kurien’s arguments. However, it is equally true that the White Revolution started and almost ended in areas which were already ‘milk surplus’or ‘milksheds’ (NDDB’s description) that had marketable
surplus of milk. Many parts of Gujarat, Western Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Western Uttar Pradesh, flourished but eastern India still depends on either milk tankers that ferry milk in railway or by road or on milk that is reconstituted from milk powder. Vidarbha region of Maharashtra sources its milk from drought prone Ahemadnagar and Solapur regions of western Maharashtra! Rajasthan, Northern Karnataka, Telangana did not have the kind of success stories that its citizens can proudly narrate. There are many unfinished agendas of the white revolution.
In last few years there have been many hude conflicts between the very institutions that worked in closed
collaboration over the years. There were newspaper reports that even some of the Gujarat Milk Unions wanted to reclaim their AMUL brand from GCMMF and others. The heads of the Institutions that were once proud members of one joint family, motivated by one common mission and advised by Dr. Kurien were pitted against one another. Institutions that championed the cause of cooperation and collaboration have been bitterly competing against one another, call it the era of privatisation or age of personality clashes, individuals on egotrips, inability of human beings not letting go or whatever. As a member of the AMUL-NDDB-IRMA community and a citizen of Anand which opened a new world view for me and nurtured me in my formative years of professional life, I feel sad watching the unfolding of these unpleasant events, often the battles being fought in the media. I worry about the future of these institutions, especially when so much human investment has gone into building of these institutions. It has taken years to build these institutions; it will take only a few days to destroy them. However, these shortcomings do not take away the credit of what AMUL, GCMMF, NDDB and the entire ecosystem of the dairy industry did in a span of 60 years.
The AMUL story is more relevant today than it was in 1950s and 60s, especially during the current regime, when market evangelists preach privatization as the only aradigm that can solve all problems of poverty and inequality. In times when food has become a commodity for trading, farming an activity that is done by a faceless group of people that are passive recipients of ‘contract’, markets that are ruthless and have no space or time for the small and the marginalized, economies that grow at 9% leaving behibd a vast number of its constituents and financial systems that collapse like a pack of cards leaving the poor more vulnerable, the AMUL cooperative model of enterprise offers a viable choice between the private and the public sector, a humane and empowering mechanism for a larger number of farmers, aa model enterprizethat can combine efficiency and business effectiveness and still can meet the aspirations of its members-producers. AMUL offers many valuable learnings for the present as also the past. AMUL is thus a Amulya (very precious) experience that we need to learn from.
Thanks to these pioneers of AMUL in independent India; my son, a representative of the new generation of Indians, was fortunate to learn his first alphabets – A for AMUL and of course M for Milk…! (Photo Courtesy: NDDB)
Dr. Ajit Kanitkar works as a Programme officer with FORD Foundation in New Delhi. He is working in the development sector for the last twenty years. Financial access and livelihood promotion are the two key areas of his expertise. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
GREEN Village Enebavi download English version
Why should a farmer remind you of suicide? Does farming mean debts only? Should villages smell of pesticides? Organic village “Enebavi” of Warangal district, Andhra Pradesh proves you wrong. Whenever people discuss about self-sufficiency, chemical free farming, water conservation, overcoming shortage of seeds and debt-free farmers “Enebavi” is the name that strikes.
In any discussion or any workshop, discussing on Rural self sufficiency, mentions this village. Whenever and wherever one wants to say about farming without using chemical pesticides, this village is taken as an Example. Anyone who wants to study water conversation will come to this village. To overcome seed scarcity one has to ask farmers from this village. If one questions ‘where you can find farmers without debt?’ this village is the answer.
The people from this village attracted the attention of the international community with their thoughts, decisions, hard work and environmental concerns. Near about 30,000 farmers, agriculture scientists, NGOs, politicians have visited this village with as much interest as visiting a tourist place, with as much devotion as visiting a temple town. Behind this great fame are labour, struggles, failures, bitter experiences. Farmers bear all these, stood against and won…and created history.
Truly a very small village with long (hi)story
Enebavi, is a small village of 51 families with population of hardly 207 in Manikyapuram Panchayat, Lingala Ghanapur mandal in Jangoan division. It was the time when villages in Janagaon division villages were reeling under feudalism. Farmers were fighting against the feudal forces. The entire land in the village was owned by 3 or 4 big landlords all other villagers are working as wage laborers. They were waiting to escape the shackles. They came to know that in a nearby village a muslim landlord had about 1500 acres of fallow land. They wanted to bring that under cultivation. They were scared of the zamindars if they would come to know about their plans. Itteboina Yadaiah still remembers those days. ‘ I am from Narmetta. A weaver from nearby villages used to sell cloth in our village. He told our patwari that in a village there was hundreds of acres of fallow land. In 1962 initially five of our families and later eight more families have moved tangutur in Aler Mandal of Nalgonda dist selling all our lands and properties. We had Rs. 25000 and could buy 133 acres. It was completely dry and fallow land full of stones. We had a small hillock (‘Ene’ in telugu) and well (bavi in telugu) so we called this as ‘Enebavi’’.
Earlier we slogged for our masters. Now it was for us. This land is ours, the sweat is ours, the grass is ours. We never felt tired. With our blood and sweat the arid land was transformed into fertile land which fed the hungry families. We realized fields and home should be together so we constructed our houses and moved into the new village.
A village is borne. Fields are ready… animals came…land was barren…to bring life back into the soil we used tank silt…tank is our mother…its feeds us’ says the villagers.
As the story of goose laying golden eggs goes..the farmers in Enebavi became bored of their ‘old’ farming practices. Chemical fertilizer and pesticides captured their attention. They wanted more more yield. More fertilizers and more pesticides to get more and more yields.
But as is man’s nature he became too greedy and wanted more and more crops and started using pesticides and insecticides rampantly. This backfired and the farmers learnt a lesson the hard way. The period from 1975 to 1995 was a chemical disaster. Investments increased and returns reduced. Farming became gambling. Initially it looked profitable, but lost gradually.
The farmers realized that they needed guidance to start life afresh. They felt they took a wrong path. But how to go forward? Distress, pests, debts…pest have developed resistance. Pesticide costs were ever increasing… red hairy caterpillars were eating away the crops. “CROPS” an NGO working from Jangoan showed them the way to manage the pests without using chemical pesticides. They taught them how identify and understand insects-their lifecycles and behavior. How to manage them with the light traps. By the year 2005 it was declared “pesticide free” village. Mr. Vijay Kumar, CEO SERP was present for the occasion. From then there are no chemical pesticides or fertilizers in the village. Hitherto neglected he milch animals were neglected earlier because they totally depended on chemical manure. But now the livestock were given their due importance for the manure and cow-dung and even dairy farming prospered. No pesticides…no pests…no fertilizers…pure air…pure…water and pure crop.
Cows became central part of their agriculture. Panchagavya, jeevmrut, neem solutions, chilli garlic extract, have become part their inputs. Every living being is useful in nature. With chemicals these will disappear that’s why we don’t like kill insects”. We stopped using chemical pesticides long back says the villagers proudly. Yes…farmer knows only sharing and not killing. For last five years the farmers in Enebavi are not going to the fertilizer shops. If necessary they use poultry manure. They use their own seeds. In a exhibition at Cholleru organized by Centre for Sustainable Agriculture they displayed 96 kinds of seeds.
Now this small village is completely pollution free and its people are enjoying good health. They have dug bores and wells and now they have surplus water.
Farmers got rid of huge investments in agriculture. With that they got out of debt traps. The food grown in the village attracts people from faraway places. They pay advances eve before the crop is harvested. Every family will have atleast 5 q of paddy at any point of time. They don’t need to buy vegetables. Every grows and shares with others.
A healthy community
Pure air in Enabavi is enough to cure any disease. Food grown without pesticide is enough to increase immunity. Communicable diseases like Chikungunya, Madras eye which were prevalent in this region have not experienced in the village. People live full life. ‘We care for nature and nature cares for us’ says the villagers. There are no cases of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, breathing disorders and skin cancers. Skin diseases and breathing diseases associated with high pesticide and fertilizer never dare effect the villagers.
Victory with water
The villagers have formed a water conservation association. They pledged to use the existing water effectively. They came together to conserve the ground water. The village has 26 tube wells and 11 open wells. They decided not to go for new tubewells beyond a limit. The farmers having excess water will share with others who need water. No new tubewell is dug in the last three years. There was no need. Electricity use has become important in agriculture. Realising this all the farmers in the village have fixed capacitors for their pumpsets. Probably this is the first village which have adopted capacitors in 100 % of their pumpsets. They also decided not to use electricity unauthorisedly.
Praises and Recognitions
The villagers received recognition from across the world. ‘Near about 30,000 farmers, staff from NGOs and other organizations, Scientists and Politicians have visited this village’ proudly says Ponnam Padma, a women farmer from the village who went to Srilanka to share their experiences. She learned the farmers experiences and taught the villagers. In recognition of their efforts towards environmental preservation and natural farming Baba Ramdev awarded them “Krushi Gaurav” followed by a cash prize of 1,00,116/-.
The villages request the government should come forward and encourage such efforts. They want a 100 kv transformer to meet their farming needs. They want government to support their marketing initiative to sell organic food.
Honable Minister for Environment in the Centre Sri. Jairam Ramesh visited the village and commended the efforts of the farmers. Dr. VL chopra from the Planning commission has visited the village. Mr. Vijay Kumar, CEO SERP and Ms. Damayanti, earlier collector Warangal district have visited the village several times.
Representatives from 11 countries have visited this village. Unfortunately none from the state ministry or agriculture department or university have visited the village till now. Our people do not recognize good around. They spend crores of rupees to visit foreign countries to learn farming from them.
Such villages are our fortune and such leaders are our misfortune.
Shedari Sribashyam, Newstoday, Jangoan, Karri Veeraiah, Newstoday, Lingalaghanpur
Eenadu Sunday special 15th May 2011. English Translation by Ms. R. Usha Ramani
110515 enabavi download PDF
రైతంటే ఆత్మహత్యలే ఎందుకు గుర్తుకు రావాలి? సేద్యంలో అప్పులే ఎందుకు మిగలాలి? పొలిమేరలో కాలుపెట్టగానే క్రిమిసంహారకాల వాసనే ఎందుకు గుప్పుమనాలి? ‘రసాయన రహిత గ్రామం’గా రికార్డుకెక్కిన వరంగల్జిల్లాలోని ఏనెబావి… పల్లెలకు పాఠం, రైతులకు ఆదర్శం, సమష్టి కృషికి నిదర్శనం.
గామీణ స్వావలంబన గురించి ఏసదస్సులో చర్చకు వచ్చినా ఆ వూరిపేరే చెబుతారు. క్రిమిసంహారకాల్లేని సేద్యం గురించి ఎక్కడ మాట్లాడాల్సి వచ్చినా ఆ వూరినే ఉదాహరణగా చూపుతారు. నీటి పొదుపు గురించి ఎవరు అధ్యయనం చేయాలన్నా ఆ వూరికే వస్తారు. విత్తనాల కొరతను అధిగమించడం ఎలాగో ఆ వూరి రైతులనే అడుగుతారు. ‘అప్పుల్లేని రైతులు ఎక్కడైనా ఉన్నారా’ అన్న ప్రశ్నకూ ఆ వూరే సమాధానం. …ఏనెబావి! ఆ గ్రామస్థుల ఆలోచనలు, నిర్ణయాలు, శ్రమజీవనం, పర్యావరణ ప్రియత్వం… అంతర్జాతీయ సమాజాన్ని ఆకర్షిస్తున్నాయి. దాదాపు 30 వేలమంది రైతులు, వ్యవసాయ శాస్త్రవేత్తలు, ఉన్నతాధికారులు, స్వచ్ఛంద సంస్థల ప్రతినిధులు… ఆ పల్లెను పర్యాటక కేంద్రమంత ఆసక్తితో తిలకించారు. ఆధ్యాత్మిక క్షేత్రమంత భక్తితో దర్శించుకున్నారు. ఆ ఘనత వెనుక చాలా శ్రమ ఉంది. సంఘర్షణ ఉంది. వైఫల్యాలున్నాయి. చేదు అనుభవాలున్నాయి. ఆ రైతులు అన్నింటినీ భరించారు, ఎదిరించారు, గెలిచారు, చరిత్రకెక్కారు. అనగనగా…
ఏనెబావి శివారు పల్లె. వరంగల్ జిల్లా జనగామ రెవెన్యూ డివిజన్ పరిధిలోని లింగాలఘనపురం మండలంలో ఉంది. మాణిక్యపురం గ్రామపంచాయతీ పరిధిలోకి వస్తుంది. 280 ఎకరాల విస్తీర్ణం ఉన్న ఆ పల్లెలో 51 కుటుంబాలు ఉన్నాయి. జనాభా… పిల్లాపెద్దా కలిసి 207 మంది. నిజమే, చాలా చిన్న పల్లెటూరే. కానీ, ఆ పల్లె వెనుక పెద్ద కథే ఉంది.
జనగామ డివిజన్లోని గ్రామాలన్నీ ఇంకా తెలంగాణ సాయుధ పోరాట ప్రభావంలో ఉన్న సమయమది. పెత్తందారీ విధానానికి వ్యతిరేకంగా రైతులు పోరాటం సాగిస్తున్నారు. నర్మెట్టలో భూస్వామ్య వ్యవస్థ ఛాయలు పూర్తిగా సమసిపోలేదు. ఉన్నపొలమంతా నలుగురైదుగురు సంపన్నులదే. పల్లెపల్లెంతా పాలేర్లే! కొన్ని కుటుంబాలవారు ఆ బానిస బతుకులు బతకలేక..సంకెళ్లు తెంచుకునే అవకాశం కోసం ఎదురుచూస్తున్నారు. దగ్గర్లోని ఓ గ్రామంలో ముస్లిం భూస్వామికి పదిహేనువందల ఎకరాల బంజరుభూమి ఉందని ఎవరో చెప్పారు. ఆ నేలను సాగుచేసుకోవాలన్న ఆశ కలిగింది. ఆ పంజరంలోంచి బయటపడాలన్న ఆకాంక్ష పెరిగింది. తమ ఆలోచన తెలిస్తే పెత్తందార్లు కళ్లెర్రజేస్తారేమో అన్న భయమొకవైపు. ఇట్టెబోయిన యాదయ్యకు ఆ సంగతులింకా గుర్తున్నాయి… ‘‘మాది నర్మెట్ట. లింగాలఘనపురం నుంచి ఓ శాలాయన బట్టలు తెచ్చి అమ్మేవాడు. ఓ వూళ్లో వందల ఎకరాల బంజరు భూమి ఉందని అతనే మా పట్వారీకి చెప్పాడు. పట్వారీ మాకు చెప్పాడు. 1962లో మాకున్న గుడిసేగుట్టా అమ్ముకుని మొత్తం అయిదు కుటుంబాల వాళ్లం బయల్దేరాం. ఆతర్వాత ఇంకో ఎనిమిది కుటుంబాలు వచ్చాయి. ముందుగా, నల్గొండ జిల్లా ఆలేరు మండలంలోని టంగుటూరికి చేరుకున్నాం. ఆ ఊరి సంపన్నుడిదే భూమి. ఆస్తులన్నీ అమ్మగా వచ్చిన డబ్బంతా పోగేస్తే పాతికవేలైంది. 133 ఎకరాలు కొన్నాం. కొనడమైతే కొన్నాం కానీ… అంతా బీడుభూమి. ఎటుచూసినా రాళ్లూరప్పలే. ఎదురుగా ఏనె (చిన్న గుట్టలాంటిది), పక్కనే బావి. ఏనెబావి అని పిలుచుకున్నాం! ఆ భూమిని సాగులోకి తీసుకురావడానికి రెక్కలు ముక్కలు చేసుకున్నాం. అదే బతుకన్నంత కష్టపడ్డాం. నిద్రలేచింది మొదలు… చికటి పడేవరకూ… అదే పని, అదే ధ్యాస! ఆకలి తెలియదు, దప్పిక తెలియదు. మాకు కష్టం కొత్తకాదు. కానీ ఎప్పుడూ మాకోసం మేం కష్టపడింది లేదు. మా చెమటంతా పెత్తందార్ల కోసమే ధారపోశాం. ఇప్పుడు… మా కోసం మేం శ్రమిస్తున్నాం. ఆ మట్టి మాది. ఆ నీరు మాది. ఆ గడ్డిపరక మాది. అందుకేనేమో, మాకు అలసట తెలియలేదు. భూమి ఒక చోట..కాపురం మరోచోట అయితే సేద్యం సాగదని తొందర్లోనే అర్థమైంది. అందుకే ఏనెబావి దగ్గరే తాటి కమ్మలతో గుడిసెలు వేసుకున్నాం”.
అలా పల్లె పుట్టింది. పొలం సిద్ధమైంది.
రంకెలేస్తూ బసవన్న వచ్చాడు. ఉత్సాహంగా కాడె భుజానికెత్తుకున్నాడు. లక్షణంగా గోవుమాలచ్చిమి వచ్చింది. ఇంటింటా పాలు పొంగించింది. కామధేనువు కాలుపెట్టింది. మరి, కల్పవృక్షం! చెరువే కల్పవృక్షమైంది. చేనుకు చేవ రావాలంటే, భూమిలో జీవం ఉండాలి. అదేమో బీడు భూమి. అంత సారవంతమైన మట్టి ఎక్కడ దొరుకుతుంది? ఆ చెరువులోని మట్టికి పరుసవేది విద్య తెలుసు. ఆ స్పర్శతో పంట బంగారమవుతుంది. తలోచేర￢ వేసి మట్టిని తరలించారు. ‘చెరువు మా కన్నతల్లి..కంటి పాప. బుక్కెడు బువ్వ నోట్లోకి పోతోందంటే… మా గరిసెల్లో ధాన్యం కుప్పలున్నాయంటే… ఆ చెరువు మట్టే కారణం’ అంటారు ఏనెబావి ప్రజలు. గుణపాఠం… ఓ రైతు. అతని దగ్గర రోజుకో బంగారు గుడ్డు పెట్టే బాతు. కొంతకాలం సంతోషంగానే ఉన్నాడు. మెల్లగా దురాశ మొదలైంది. దురాలోచన వేధించింది. కడుపుకోస్తే బోలెడన్ని బంగారు గుడ్లు దొరుకుతాయని ఆశపడ్డాడు. మిగిలిందేమిటి? నిరాశే! చిన్నప్పుడు చదువుకున్న కథే. పెద్దయ్యాక, ఆ కథలోని నీతి తెలియాల్సిన సమయానికి మన ఆలోచనారీతి దారితప్పిపోతుంది. ఏనెబావి విషయంలోనూ అదే జరిగింది. కొంతకాలానికి సంప్రదాయ సేద్యం మొహంమొత్తిపోయింది. రసాయన ఎరువులు చూసిన కళ్లకి… చెరువు మట్టి ఆనలేదు. క్రిమిసంహారకాల ఘాటు ముందు… పెంటకుప్పలు చిన్నబోయాయి. మరింత పంట పండాలి? మరింత దిగుబడి కావాలి? మట్టిని గట్టిగా పిండుకుందాం. సారాన్ని బలవంతంగా పీల్చుకుందాం. రసాయన ఎరువులు వెదజల్లుదాం. క్రిమిసంహారకాలు పిచికారీ చేద్దాం. .. రైతు రైతులా ఆలోచించినంత కాలం వ్యవసాయం హాయిగా సాగింది. ఎప్పుడైతే వ్యాపారిలా ఆలోచించడం మొదలుపెట్టాడో… ఆక్షణమే పతనం మొదలైంది. ఏనెబావి కూడా అందుకు మినహాయింపు కాదు. 1975 నుంచి 1995 దాకా… అది వ్యవసాయం కాదు. రసాయన విధ్వంసం. కృత్రిమమైన దిగుబడి. విచ్చలవిడిగా ఎరువులేశారు. వేలకొద్దీ పెట్టుబడులు పెట్టారు. మితిమీరిన ఆశలు పెట్టుకున్నారు. వ్యవసాయాన్ని జూదంతో పోలుస్తారు. యాదృచి్ఛకమే కావచ్చు కానీ, జూదానికి అలవాటుపడిన కొత్తలో రాబడి బ్రహ్మాండంగా ఉంటుంది. పట్టిందల్లా బంగారమే అనిపిస్తుంది. అది కాకి బంగారమని తెలియడానికి ఎంతోకాలం పట్టదు. తెలిసేలోపు, పరిస్థితులు అదుపుతప్పిపోతాయి. ఇక్కడా అంతే. ఒకటిరెండు పంటలు విరగపండాయి. డబ్బే డబ్బు! రైతు రెచ్చిపోయాడు. పెట్టుబడి రెట్టించాడు. ఇంకో లోడు ఎరువులు దించాడు. క్రిమిసంహారకాలు టోకున కొన్నాడు. ఆ దెబ్బకి చిడపీడలు రాటుదేలిపోయాయి. మందుల్ని తట్టుకునే సత్తువ కూడగట్టుకున్నాయి. రైతన్న పప్పులు ఉడకలేదు. అప్పులే మిగిలాయి. అదో పాడుకాలం. పంటలేకాదు, మనశ్శాంతీ కరవైన కాలం.
కొత్త జీవితం… రైతులో ఆలోచన మొదలైంది. దారి తప్పామని అర్థమైపోయింది. రసాయనాల ఊబిలోంచి బయటపడాలన్న తపన కనిపించింది. కానీ, ఎలా? వేలుపట్టుకు నడిపించేదెవరు? దారిచూపి పుణ్యంకట్టుకునేదెవరు?కష్టాలు, నష్టాలు, అప్పులు… ఇవి చాలవన్నట్టు రాకాసి బొంతపురుగులు! బొంతపురుగు సేద్యానికి బొంద పెడుతుంది. హద్దూ అదుపూ లేని రసాయనాల వాడకంతో… ఓ దశదాటాక పురుగులు నిరోధకశక్తిని పెంచుకున్నాయి. ఏ మందులూ ఏమీ చేయలేని పరిస్థితి. అప్పులతో నష్టాలతో సతమతమౌతున్న రైతన్నకు ఇదో పెద్దదెబ్బ! సరిగ్గా అప్పుడే… జనగామ కేంద్రంగా పనిచేస్తున్న క్రాప్స్ (సీఆర్వోపీఎస్- సెంటర్ ఫర్ రూరల్ ఆపరేషన్స్ ప్రోగ్రామ్ సొసైటీ) కేంద్ర గ్రామీణాభివృద్ధి కార్యక్రమాల సంస్థ బొంతపురుగు నివారణకు ఓ ఉద్యమాన్ని ప్రారంభించింది. క్రాప్స్ వ్యవస్థాపకుడు రేకల లింగయ్య తన బృందంతో ఏనెబావికి వచ్చాడు. రైతుల కన్నీళ్లు చూశాడు. కష్టాలు విన్నాడు. దీపపు ఎరలతో తల్లిపురుగులను ఎలా నాశనం చేయవచ్చో ప్రత్యక్షంగా చూపించాడు. దెబ్బకి దెయ్యం వదిలింది. పురుగు పరుగుపెట్టింది. ఏనెబావి ప్రజలకు సంప్రదాయ సేద్యమంటే గురి కుదిరింది. నిజమే. మన తాతముత్తాతలు, వాళ్ల తాతముత్తాతలు… పర్యావరణానికి హాని జరగకుండా, రైతుకు నష్టం వాటిల్లకుండా… సమాజానికంతా మంచి జరిగేలా చక్కని వ్యవసాయ పద్ధతుల్ని రూపొందించారు. తాత్కాలిక లాభాలకు ఆశపడి మనం వాటిని దూరంచేసుకుంటున్నాం. అది తప్పు’ అన్న పశ్చాత్తాపం కనిపించింది. అదే మార్పుకు తొలి అడుగు. ఆ అడుగు పొన్నం మల్లయ్యది. మిగిలిన రైతులంతా ఆ దార్లోనే నడిచారు. క్రాప్స్ సహకారం ఉండనే ఉంది. ఏనెబావి రైతులు 1995 నుంచి రసాయన ఎరువులు, క్రిమిసంహారకాల వాడకాన్ని తగ్గించారు. 2005 నాటికి పూర్తిగా వదులుకున్నారు. దీంతో ‘సెర్ప్ (సొసైటీ ఫర్ ఎలిమినేషన్ ఆఫ్ రూరల్ పావర్టీ) సంస్థ ఏనెబావిని రసాయన రహిత గ్రామంగా ప్రకటించింది. అప్పటి నుంచి సేద్యంలో ఘాటైన రసాయనాల్లేవు. ప్రకృతికి నష్టం కలిగించే క్రిమిసంహారకాల్లేవు. ఆ గాలి స్వచ్ఛం. ఆ నీరు స్వచ్ఛం. ఆ పైరు స్వచ్ఛం. ఆ పంట స్వచ్ఛం.రసాయన సేద్యానికి బానిసైపోయాక రైతుకు పేడఎరువుల అవసరం లేకపోయింది. మూగజీవాల్ని నిర్లక్ష్యం చేశాడు. ఫలితంగా పశుసంపద తగ్గిపోయింది. సేంద్రియ వ్యవసాయం చేపట్టగానే దూరమైపోయిన పశువుల అవసరం గుర్తుకొచ్చింది. ఏనెబావి రైతుల వ్యవసాయ పద్ధతుల గురించి తెలుసుకున్న ఆంధ్రాబ్యాంకు అధికారులు పశువుల్ని సమకూర్చుకోడానికి రుణాలిచ్చారు. ఇంకేముంది, గోధూళితో పల్లె పావనమైపోయింది. ఇప్పుడు అక్కడ, రోజుకు వంద లీటర్ల పాలు ఉత్పత్తి అవుతున్నాయి. ఐదువందలకుపైగా పశుసంపద ఉంది. ఆ ఊళ్లో గేదెలే కాదు, ఆవులూ కనిపిస్తాయి. సేంద్రియ వ్యవసాయంలో గోమాతకు చాలా ప్రాధాన్యం ఇచ్చారు. ఆవు పేడ, పంచితం (మూత్రం), పాలు, పెరుగు, నెయ్యి కలిస్తే..పంచగవ్యం. ఇది చేనుకు చేవనిస్తుంది. ఇక గోమూత్రం, శనగపిండి, బెల్లంతో తయారు చేసే ‘జీవామృతం’ నేలకు రోగనిరోధక శక్తినిస్తుంది. వేపపిండి, వేపనూనె, వేప కషాయం, పొగాకు కషాయం, పచ్చిమిరప, వెల్లుల్లి కషాయం… ఇవే సేంద్రియ సాగులో తిరుగులేని క్రిమిసంహారిణులు. ‘పర్యావరణంలో ప్రతిజీవి ప్రాణమూ విలువైందే..రసాయన ఎరువులు వాడితే శత్రుపురుగుల నాశనం సంగతి దేవుడెరుగు..మేలు చేసే నేస్తాలు కూడా నామరూపాల్లేకుండా పోతాయ్.. అందుకే మేం ఏ పురుగులనూ చంపడానికి ఇష్టపడం. సేంద్రియ విధానంలో సాగు చేస్తున్నాం. రెండేళ్లుగా సంప్రదాయ క్రిమిసంహారిణులను కూడా వాడటం లేదు’ అని రైతులు సగర్వంగా చెబుతారు. నిజమే, రైతుకు పంచడమే తెలుసు. చంపడం అతని ప్రవృత్తి కాదు. అయిదు సంవత్సరాలుగా ఏనెబావి రైతులు ఎరువుల దుకాణాలకు వెళ్లడం లేదు. మరీ అవసరమైతే కోడిపెంటను వినియోగిస్తారు. దేశవాళి విత్తనాలనే నాటుతున్నారు. తమ భూమిలో పండిన విత్తనాల్నే తిరిగి వాడుకుంటున్నారు. నల్గొండ జిల్లా చొల్లేరులో జరిగిన విత్తన మేళాలో ఏకంగా 96 రకాల విత్తనాల్ని ప్రదర్శించి అభినందనలు అందుకున్నారు.
రసాయన ఎరువుల్లేకుండా ఏనెబావి రైతులు పండించిన పంటలు పేరుప్రతిష్ఠల్నే కాదు, సిరిసంపదల్నీ మోసుకొచ్చాయి. పొరుగూళ్లోని షావుకారు దగ్గరికెళ్లి ప్రతి సీజన్లోనూ ట్రాక్టర్లకొద్దీ ఎరువులు తెచ్చుకున్న రైతులు… ఇప్పుడు అటువైపు తొంగి కూడా చూడటం లేదు. ఆ అవసరమే లేకుండా పోయింది. పెట్టుబడుల భారం తప్పింది. అప్పుల వూబిలోంచి బయటపడ్డారు. దానికితోడు, రసాయన ఎరువులు వేయని ఆ పంటల్ని కొనడానికి ఎక్కడెక్కడి ప్రజలో వస్తున్నారు. పంట చేతికి రాకముందే అడ్వాన్సులు ఇస్తున్నారు. ఏనెబావిలో ప్రతిరైతు ఇంట్లో కనీసం ఐదు క్వింటాళ్లకు తక్కువ కాకుండా సన్నబియ్యం నిల్వలు ఉంటాయి. ఇక పప్పుధాన్యాలు, కూరగాయలు కొనాల్సిన అవసరమే లేదు. ఎవరికి పండినా… అందరూ పంచుకుంటారు.
స్వచ్ఛమైన ఏనెబావి గాలి చాలు, ఏ రోగమైనా నయమైపోతుంది. రసాయనాల ఆనవాళ్లు లేని ఆ ఆహారం చాలు, రోగనిరోధకశక్తి ఇనుమడిస్తుంది. దేశమంతా వ్యాపించిన చికున్ గున్యా వీరి దరిదాపుల్లోకి రాలేదు. కళ్లకలక వంటి అంటువ్యాధుల వాసన కూడా సోకలేదు. అకాల మరణాల బెడదే లేదు. మూడేళ్ల క్రితం ఓ పండు ముదుసలి మరణించారు. మళ్లీ, ఈ మార్చి 19న మరో పండుముదుసలి కాలం చేశారు. ‘ప్రకృతిని కాపాడుకుంటున్నాం.. ప్రకృతి మమ్మల్ని కాపాడుతోంది’ అంటారా గ్రామస్థులు. ఎవరికీ కేన్సర్, గుండె జబ్బు, మధుమేహం వంటి వ్యాధులు రాలేదని సగర్వంగా చెబుతారు. రసాయన ఎరువులు అతిగా వాడటం వల్ల వచ్చే కొన్నిరకాల చర్మవ్యాధులు, శ్వాసకోశవ్యాధులు… వూరి పొలిమేరల్లో కాలుపెట్టడానికి కూడా సాహసించడం లేదు. జలమే జయం! గ్రామ ప్రజలంతా కలిసి జలసంరక్షణ సంఘాన్ని ఏర్పాటు చేసుకున్నారు. ఉన్న నీటినే సక్రమంగా వినియోగించుకోవాలని నిర్ణయించుకున్నారు. భూగర్భజలాలను కాపాడుకునేందుకు అంతా ఒక్కటయ్యారు. గ్రామంలో 26 బోర్లు, 11 బావులు ఉన్నాయి. అవసరానికి మించి బోర్లు వేయకూడదని తీర్మానం చేసుకున్నారు. జలసంపద ఎక్కువగా ఉన్నవారు..కొరతలో ఉన్న వారికి సాయం అందించాలనే కట్టుబాటును ఎలాంటి మనస్పర్ధలకూ తావులేకుండా అమలు చేస్తున్నారు. గత మూడేళ్లలో గ్రామంలో కొత్తగా ఒక్క బోరు కూడా వేయలేదు. ఆ అవసరమే రాలేదు. వ్యవసాయంలో విద్యుత్తు పాత్ర కీలకంగా మారింది. ఈ సత్యాన్ని గ్రహించిన రైతులు, పంపుసెట్లకు కెపాసిటర్లను అమర్చారు. 100 శాతం కెపాసిటర్ల అమరికలో రాష్ట్రానికే ఆదర్శమయ్యారు. అనధికారికంగా విద్యుత్తు వాడకూడదని కట్టుబాటుచేసుకున్నారు. అదనపు కనెక్షన్ల కోసం డీడీలు చెల్లించారు.
ఏనాబవి కీర్తి ఎల్లలు దాటింది. ప్రకృతిని పర్యావరణాన్ని కాపాడుతున్న గ్రామస్థుల కృషికి ప్రశంసలు వెల్లువెత్తాయి. జిల్లా, రాష్ట్రం, దెస సరిహద్దులు దాటిన ఆ వ్యవసాయ విధానం గురించి తెలుసుకునేందుకు ఇప్పటిదాకా 30 వేల మంది రైతులు, వివిధ సంస్థల ప్రతినిధులు ఇక్కడికి వచరని వూరువూరంతా గర్వంగా చెబుతుంది. పొన్నం పద్మ అనే మహిళా రైతు శ్రీలంకకు వెళ్లి తమ విజయాలను వివరించింది. అక్కడి విశేషాలను విధానాలను అధ్యయనం చేసొచ్చి స్థానిక రైతులకు పాటాలు చెప్పింది. ఏనాబవి రైతులు ప్రకృతికి చేస్తున్న మేలు, పర్యావరణాన్ని కాపాడుతున్న తీరూ తెలుసుకున్న యోగా గురువు రాందేవ్ ‘కృషి గౌరవ’ అవార్డును బహుకరించారు. లక్షా నూట పదహారు రూపాయల నగదు పురస్కారాన్ని అందించారు. ప్రభుత్వం వైపు నుంచి సహకారం అందితే మరిన్ని అద్భుతాలు చేస్తామని గ్రామస్తులు అంటున్నారు. వ్యవసాయ అవసరాలకు 100 కెవి ట్రాన్స్ఫార్మర్ ఏర్పాటు చేయాలనీ, తాగునీటి అవసరాలకు ఓ వ్యవస్థను రూపొందించాలని కోరుతున్నారు. సేంద్రియ ఉత్పత్తుల విక్రయానికి ప్రత్యెక దుకాణాల్ని నిర్మించాలని కూడా ప్రభుత్వానికి విజ్ఞప్తి చేస్తున్నారు. కేంద్ర పర్యావరణ మంత్రి జైరాంరమేశ్ వచ్చివెళ్లారు. సాగు పద్ధతుల్లో మార్పును అభినందించారు. కేంద్ర ప్రణాళిక సంఘం సభ్యుడు వీఎల్ చోప్రా, సెర్ప్ సీఈవో విజయ్కుమార్ తదితరులు కూడా ఏనెబావిని చూసివెళ్లారు. గతంలో వరంగల్ కలెక్టరుగా పనిచేసిన దమయంతి మూడు పర్యాయాలు పర్యటించి రైతులను ప్రోత్సహించారు. పదకొండు దేశాల ప్రతినిధులు వచ్చి పాఠాలు నేర్చుకున్నారు. అయితే, ఇప్పటి వరకూ రాష్ట్ర మంత్రులు కానీ, స్థానిక శాసనభ్యులు కానీ, వ్యవసాయ శాఖ ఉన్నతాధికారులు కానీ… ఇటువైపు తొంగి కూడా చూడలేదు. మనవాళ్లకు దగ్గర్లోని అదు్భతాలు కనిపించవు. దూరపుకొండలు చూడటానికి మాత్రం కోట్లు వెచ్చించి మరీ విదేశాలకు ప్రయాణమవుతారు. అలాంటి పల్లెలు మన అదృష్టం. ఇలాంటి నేతలు మన దురదృష్టం.
మా మంచి పల్లె
- ఏనెబావి రైతులు సేంద్రియ వ్యవసాయ విధానంలోనే కాదు… జీవన విధానంలోనూ నలుగురికీ ఆదర్శంగా నిలుస్తారు. పండుగపబ్బాలప్పుడు తప్పించి… మాంసాహారం జోలికి వెళ్లరు. ఊళ్లో గుడుంబా గుప్పు మనదు. కొద్దిమంది మాత్రం, తమ పొలాల్లో దొరికే తాటికల్లును మాత్రమే సేవిస్తారు.
- ఏ ఇంట్లో తోరణం కట్టినా ఊరంతా పండగే. అందరికీ విందు భోజనమే.
- గ్రామ ప్రజలకు చదువు విలువ తెలుసు. ఇంగ్లీషు అవసరం తెలుసు. అందుకే రోజూ 13 మంది చిన్నారులు ఆటోలో జనగామ దాకా వెళ్లి కాన్వెంట్ చదువులు చదువుకుంటున్నారు. నలుగురు యువకులు డిగ్రీ పూర్తి చేశారు. అయినా, మట్టి మీద మమకారంతో సేద్యంలోనే స్థిరపడాలని నిర్ణయించుకున్నారు.
- పల్లెకు పోలీసుల అవసరమే లేదు. ఏ సమస్య వచ్చినా తమలో తామే పరిష్కరించుకుంటారు. పోలీస్స్టేషన్లు, న్యాయస్థానాల గడప తొక్కే అవసరం ఎప్పుడూ రాలేదని గ్రామపెద్ద పొన్నం మల్లయ్య సగర్వంగా చెబుతారు.
- ఈ పల్లె నుంచి ఏకగ్రీవంగా ఓ సభ్యుడిని ఎన్నుకుని గ్రామపంచాయతీకి పంపుతారు. ఇప్పటిదాకా పోటీ లేదు. భవిష్యత్లోనూ ఉండబోదంటారు.
- ఏనెబావిలో ఒక్క గుడిసె కూడా కనిపించదు. అన్నీ పక్కా ఇళ్లే! గ్రామానికి తారు రోడ్డు తెచ్చుకున్నారు. ఊరంతటికీ ఒకే వీధి… ఆ వీధికి సిమెంటు రోడ్డు వేయించుకున్నారు. ప్రతి ఇంటిమీదా సేంద్రియ వ్యవసాయం, జలసంరక్షణ, పర్యావరణ పరిరక్షణకు సంబంధించిన నినాదాలే చిరునామాల్లా దర్శనమిస్తాయి.
- ఎవరికి ఏ కష్టం వచ్చినా.. అది అందరిదీ. అంతా అండగా ఉంటారు. గ్రామంలోని రైతులు శ్రీరామ, మంజునాధ, కాకతీయ రైతుసంఘాలలో సభ్యులుగా ఉన్నారు. ఈ సంఘాలన్నీ ‘ఏనెబావి సేంద్రియ రైతు సంఘం’ నాయకత్వంలో పనిచేస్తాయి. గ్రామంలోని రైతు శిక్షణ భవనంలో సమావేశాలను నిర్వహిస్తారు. నెలకు ఇరవై రూపాయల చొప్పున పొదుపుచేసి, అవసరమైన వారికి అప్పుగా ఇస్తారు. మహిళలు క్రాప్స్, ఇతర సంస్థల పరిధిలో పొదుపు సంఘాలను ఏర్పాటు చేసుకున్నారు.
- అసలే చిన్న గ్రామం. అన్ని వృత్తులవారూ లేకపోవడం ఓ సమస్యే. దీంతో వ్యవసాయానికి అవసరమైన నాగలి తదితర పరికరాలను తామే తయారు చేసుకుంటారు. ఒక్కో కుటుంబం ఒక్కో వృత్తిలో నైపుణ్యాన్ని సాధించింది.
- అవసరమైనప్పుడు రైతులే కూలీల అవతారమెత్తుతారు. ఒకరి అవసరాలకు మరొకరు వెళ్లి పనులు చేస్తారు. నాట్లు ఎక్కువగా ఉన్నప్పుడూ తామంతా సరిపోనప్పుడు మాత్రమే.. పొరుగూళ్ల సాయం తీసుకుంటారు.
ఏనెబావికి వెన్నెముక… ఏనెబావి కీర్తి ప్రతిష్ఠలు, రైతుల అభివృద్ధి, సుస్థిర వ్యవసాయం, రసాయనాల్లేని వాతావరణం..ఇన్ని విజయాలకు ప్రధాన కారణం జనగామలోని క్రాప్స్ సంస్థ. బొంతపురుగు నివారణ ఉద్యమం ద్వారా రైతులకు చేరువైన ఆ సంస్థ వ్యవస్థాపకుడి పేరు రేకల లింగయ్య, వ్యవసాయ శాస్త్ర పట్టభద్రుడు. ఎస్.ఆర్.శ్రీనివాస్, మహేందర్, గిరిబాబు, నర్మద, విష్ణు, లక్ష్మీనారాయణలతో పాటు మరో 12 మంది ఆయన బృందంలో సభ్యులు. సేంద్రియ వ్యవసాయ విధానాన్ని ఆచరించేలా ఓర్పుతో రైతులను ఒప్పించగలిగారు. చెరువు మట్టి తరలింపులో, కోళ్లపెంట సరఫరాలో, వర్మీకంపోస్టు, గోమూత్ర సేకరణశాలల నిర్మాణం, పాడి పశువుల కొనుగోలుకు రుణాలు…ఇలా ఎన్నో విషయాల్లో ఏనెబావి రైతులకు అండగా నిలిచింది క్రాప్స్. సంప్రదాయ ఎరువుల తయారీలో శిక్షణ ఇచ్చింది. శ్రీవరిసాగు ఉద్యమానికి తెరతీసింది. ‘మేం దారి చూపాం. గ్రామస్థులు నమ్మకంతో మావెంట నడిచారు. శ్రమించారు. ఫలితాలు సాధించారు. ఏనెబావిని ఆదర్శంగా నిలిపారు. తమ విజయాల్లో మాకూ స్థానం కల్పించారు. చాలా సంతోషంగా ఉంది. అయితే ఈ మార్పు.. ఈ ప్రయోగం.. ఇక్కడితో ఆగిపోకూడదు. ఇంకా ముందుకెళ్లాలి. ప్రభుత్వం కూడా గుర్తించాలి. ప్రోత్సహించాలి’ అంటారు రేకల లింగయ్య.
D.V.L Padma Priya
Failure of kharif crop and mounting debts stated to be reasons
The interest rate on private loans ranges between 24 and 36 per cent
The district witnessed 15 deaths in 3 days during November
HYDERABAD: Sixty-nine farmers from Adilabad district committed suicide during the kharif season that lasted from August to November 2009 and the number grew to 93 by December 15, if reports from the non-governmental organisations and farmers’ associations in Andhra Pradesh are any indication. Failure of kharif crop and mounting debts are stated to be the reasons for the spate of suicides across the district.
A recent committee constituted by Deccan Development Society, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), PEACE, AP Rythu Sangam and other organisations recently came up with a study report that revealed the staggering number of farmer suicides.
The committee visited around eight families in various mandals, informed G.V. Ramanjaneyulu, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.
“In the first week of November alone, over 16 suicides were reported in vernacular newspapers and that’s when we put together this committee. The committee with the help of local media and farmers estimated that over 69 suicides had taken place during the kharif season,” he said. Confirming the report by the committee, S. Malla Reddy, vice-president, A.P. Rythu Sangham, says over 93 suicide deaths were recorded by the Sangham by December 15, 2009.
Majority of the farmers who took the extreme step had taken large amounts of private loans and micro-finance operators at high interest rate in order to cultivate cotton, revealed the report.
G. Bhojanna of Lokeshwara village in Lokeshwaram mandal of the district is one such farmer of five-acres who ended his life last November due to mounting debts incurred on his failed cotton crop.
His accrued loans of two years amounted to Rs.3.5 lakh, and every month, he had to suffer the ignominy of the moneylenders’ visits to his home, his son G. Gangaprasad, an 18-year-old college student who now spends more time as a daily-wage worker said.
Bhojanna’s widow Indramma is helping run the house now with her meagre income as a beedi worker.
The interest rate on private loans ranges between 24 and 36 per cent, informed Rajasekhara Reddy, one of the committee members.
“The microfinance companies would collect the interest amount every month. For a farmer this is a burden as farming doesn’t guarantee regular income,” he explains.
“We had brought this to the notice of the district Collector too and submitted a memorandum. However, the Collector had approved ex-gratia for only 18 deaths he considered genuine. After we submitted our list, ex-gratia was cleared for 50 farmer families,” S. Malla Reddy, vice president, Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham.
BT cotton hybrids
The report further states that though on an average 1.65 lakh hectares of land is under cotton cultivation in the district, this had increased by 20 per cent in 2009. Thus a total of 1.90 lakh hectares of land was reported to be under cotton cultivation, with almost 80 per cent of it under BT cotton hybrids, it says. The drought forced the farmers to re-seed thrice for gap filling and with each bag of cotton seed costing around Rs.750, this meant an increase in cost of cultivation, explains Mr. Rajsekhara Reddy. “The minimum cost of cultivation per acre is around Rs.12,000 so a farmer would require a harvest of six quintals per acre merely to break-even,” he points out.
Despite the minimum support price for cotton in kharif 2009 standing at Rs. 3,000, the low yield – almost half of the previous year – pushed farmers deeper into debts, the report points out.
Kodanda Reddy, member, Andhra Pradesh Kisan Cell, said the district had witnessed 15 deaths in three days in November and this too was brought to the notice of Collector.
“I visited the families personally to ascertain the facts. Majority of the farmers didn’t receive crop insurance amount and there was little intervention to stop the private lenders,” he says adding the loans were also given in kind in the form of seeds and fertilizers.
A Punjab Agricultural Univeristy report Farmer & Agricultural Labourers Suicides due to Indebtedness in the Punjab State — a pilot project of Sangrur and Bathinda districts, submitted to the Punjab government a few days back has sirred a political storm.
The survey report says that 2,990 farmers had committed suicide in two districts — 1256 in Bathinda and 1634 in Sangrur district — between 2000 and 2008. This report, more or less like a household census, is considered to be the first authentic survey of the spate of suicides among farmers and agricultural workers.
This report comes within a month of the Punjab government’s decision to fix a price for farmer suicides — Rs 2 lakh to the families of those farmers who have committed suicide in the past one year.
In Sangrur district, 738 farmers who took the fatal path to escape growing indebtedness, had an average outstanding debt of Rs 3.36 lakh per farmer. For another lot of 246 farmers who committed suicide for other reasons, the average outstanding amount standing against their name was Rs 79,935. As far as farm labourers are concerned, the average debt was Rs 70,036.
In Bathinda, the average outstanding due against farmers who could not sustain the growing indebtedness, was Rs 2.94 lakh. As many as 550 farmers belonged to this category. For another lot of 223 farmers who too committed suicide but for other reasons, the average outstanding debt was Rs 85,825. For the workers, the outstanding amount against their name was Rs 47,347 on an average. The report also provides a list of such households.
Meanwhile, another report in The Independent, London, says 1,500 farmers in Chattisgarh State have committed suicide. It blames crop failure and the falling water table to be responsible for the serial death dance. If this is true, I don’t see why the Punjab farmers, who are endowed with assured irrigation, have to commit suicide. That means lack of irrigation alone cannot be the reason. The PAU report blames growing indebtedness for the spate of suicides. Indebtedness comes from various reasons, and somehow I find we shirk from pointing to the real causes.
Reports about suicides in Vidharba belt in Maharashtra also ascribe it to lack of irrigation and distress sale of produce. While all this may be true, but I sometimes wonder why are we all reluctant to dig it deeper and find out the real causes that triggers indebtedness.
Devinder Sharma Groundreality
The number of farmers committing suicide in Vidarbha since June 2005 has risen upto 1,136. In November 2006 alone, this year, 91 farmers have committed suicide.
This morning, a farmer tried to commit suicide by consuming pesticide in the Yavatmal district. His condition is reported to be very critical. In his suicide note, Rameshwar Annaji Kuchankar has blamed the Maharashtra Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister for bringing disaster to the Vidarbha region. His suicide note, released by the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti reads:
I don’t know how to continue living. I have taken a loan of 15,000 rupees. The Government says that the price of cotton will not be hiked. Since I have plunged into losses, I am ending my life. My mother and father should not be harrassed. Chief Minister, please give us the correct price for our cotton. Deputy CM, RR Patil, fix the rate at 3,000 rupees otherwise more suicides will happpen. Pratibha, please get remarried; I am sorry, I am leaving you alone.
Jaideep Hardikar aturday, February 03, 2007 21:31
.While tens of farmers continue to take their own lives in Vidarbha, hope hasn’t died completely for thousands of others. Resilient in their battle, they are trying to take baby steps to mitigate the agrarian distress collectively. “These are refreshingly welcome people’s initiatives. Hoping for policy changes will take us nowhere,” says Kishor Tiwari, convenor of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS).
A DNA Analysis
NAGPUR: Not once did Shobha Gajbe, 35, think that she could cook her way out of a back-breaking debt, one that made her cotton farmer husband a cynic. But it’s the mid-day meals that she cooks for school children in Keslapur, a village around 60 kilometres from Nagpur, that is helping Gajbe melt her family’s debt mountain. In the cotton country of Vidarbha, where one farmer, on an average, commits suicide every six to eight hours unable to bear the burden of debt and failed crops, there is a silent revolution brought on by women.
From running video parlours in villages to goat farming, managing bamboo plantations to cooking midday meals for school students and to running small cottage industries, the women’s collectives in the region are taking up ventures that are redefining the way business is conducted in these parts. But how are they doing it?
A minimum ten women come together and form a group. They pool in little money every day and after raising a corpus approach a bank or financial institution for loan depending upon their need and project. Members also borrow money from the group’s savings at minimum interest rate from time to time to meet their needs and demands. In Yavatmal, where hundreds of farmers have taken their own lives, a few such women’s collectives are beginning to farm together by leasing land; rejecting the capital-intensive chemical farming, and adopting low-cost organic farming. They have reaped not just a better harvest this year, but decent dividends too.
The power of one
But it isn’t just the women who are discovering the benefits of collective bargaining. Marginal farmer Vijay Pote, 39, from Pisapur village in Wardha was till recently at his wits end trying to figure out how to even out the uncertainties of the agricultural market.
Like tens of thousands of farmers in Vidarbha, Pisapur farmers made losses year after year and had grown desperate till they took the lead from the farmers of Amravati, where over 4000 joined hands to collectively farm and bargain with the traders.
Pisapur farmers went for the same collective farming model and have managed to cut down their cost of production dramatically. Pote and 80-plus members first bargained with inputs dealers as they went for a joint purchase of seeds and other inputs. They got the inputs prices reduced.
Then, they shifted to organic farming to reduce the use to pesticides. That saved a big component of production cost. Finally, after repeating a good harvest of soyabean, they struck a collective deal with the traders and got better prices. In short, profit margins rose by about 20 to 30 per cent. “We have found a way, and we think we can work wonders through our collective,” says Pote. “We are not alone in our struggle now.”
Going back to basics
For Rajendra Pande and some 20-odd farmers in Chilli Ijara village in Mahagaon tehsil of Yavatmal district, the refusal by banks to give them credit came as a boon in disguise.
“We all decided that we would go to our basics and cultivate Jowar. And for the first time in recent year the harvest has given us profits,” says Pande. “I sowed Jowar on all my ten acres since I had no money to grow cotton or soybean. I spent Rs1400 per acre, and on an average got 17 quintals of yield. I made a profit of Rs 10,000 an acre.” Pande and his other friends say they won’t grow cotton again.
But for thousands of others still sticking to cotton, there’s a way out. Close to 500 villages are demonstrating in Vidarbha that the Insecticide Resistance Management (IRM), a technology-initiative of the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), is an option. “If the farmers sow desi varieties of cotton the use of chemicals will be more than halved, and thus the production cost will be reduced,” says CICR Director M Khadi.
Moreover, the foliage or the plant waste can be converted into charcoal, a successful initiative funded by the State Bank of India. “A cotton farmer can earn additional Rs1000 for an acre of his plant wastes,” says social worker Atul Sharma.
While tens of farmers continue to take their own lives in Vidarbha, hope hasn’t died completely for thousands of others. Resilient in their battle, they are trying to take baby steps to mitigate the agrarian distress collectively.
“These are refreshingly welcome people’s initiatives. Hoping for policy changes will take us nowhere,” says Kishor Tiwari, convenor of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS).