Cotton picking in progress
Ahmad Hassan is one of the 35 cotton farmers that form Learning Group (LG) No. 40 from Sindavadar village, Gujarat. Partners in the adoption of poor practices in cotton cultivation; they all held belief systems that, greater inputs culminate in greater outputs. Realizations that such practices were detrimental to the environment and an unnecessary expenditure were either non existent or abysmally low.
Ambiguity with project objectives and benefits which they stood to accrue were part and parcel of their group formation process. Motivated by the local Krishi Mitra they overcame initial reluctances to form LG No. 40 in March 2012.
Overcoming initial glitches, they started regularly attending the trainings on Better Cotton Systems and its Minimum Production Criteria (MPC) being conducted by AFPRO. These MPC provided them with a broad framework, working within which they could produce cotton which was both profitable and environmentally sustainable. Through four trainings, sub criteria related to sowing techniques, integrated nutrient management, crop protection and soil moisture, importance and techniques of marinating fiber quality of their produce was shared with them.
Having understood the power of a group, they all prefer taking decisions on selection of seeds; and application of fertilizers and pesticides together. Not only have they started jointly purchasing inputs but have also started sharing their problems and benefits of new practices adopted in their fields. There choice and procedures of pesticide application have changed, with an increase in quantity of organic fertilizers and micro nutrients. Adoptions of drip irrigation; and alternate row irrigation among those who cannot afford the expenses of drips have also been taken up as water saving practices.
Outshining other LGs, LG No. 40 has received the coveted BCI License. There cotton is not only certified to having been produced using sustainable practices ‘Better Cotton’; but also giving them leverage to access BCI registered Ginners. For the first time they had Ginners visiting their fields for purchase of cotton. Encashing this privilege they been able significantly reduce transportation and storage costs. They now like to sell their cotton in groups as it is beneficial for them in getting optimum price.
“Land is important, productivity is managed by farmer, grouping of farmer is good for sharing, environment is important aspect, Systematic farming like Better Cotton System with optimum use of resources take farmer towards approach of sustainability”