Krisastam Pradhan

Story was interviewed by Ratikanta, Sital Kumar (NF Coalition) and Pradip Kumar (SWATI)
Written by Sital Kumar and Ratikanta from NF Coalition

As I toil on my farm assisted by my family members, wife and two children, I recall how I began my journey into farming. I am 55 years old today, I started farming since I was an adult and I have never used synthetic chemical fertilisers in my field. Using natural farming methods and practicing nature’s way have been prevalent among the farmers in our area. But some farmers, especially the ones that grow cabbage and cauliflower use chemical fertilisers to increase yield.

I have personally seen a reduction in their soil fertility over a shot span.

Back when I started farming, although I did not know then the methods of ZBNF, I used to use cow dung-based manure to maintain soil fertility in my plot. In 2017, since SWATI organisation introduced me to different methods of natural farming, I have noticed increased yields, cost reduction and better plant health. 

An average cropping cycle in my field starts in April. I grow a local variant of turmeric in about an acre of my land, traditional rice and millets in half an acre each.  I also grow ginger and a local variant of potatoes in patches. The State seed distribution is non-existent in our area, with seeds only black marketed by shopkeepers. Therefore, I resort to local variants only. I treat them with Bijamrita and I use Jivamrita, both made from cattle litter, to ensure plant health.

The climate in our area supports up to 3 cropping cycles a year, barring one dry month. The agriculture is mostly rainfed since we don’t have any irrigation project or canals in our area.  After leaving the planted shoots on their own for about a month, I cover the field with branches and leaves of Sal (Shorea robusta) as an achadana (Mulch). The layer prevents the growth of unwanted weeds, maintains soil fertility and deters soil erosion because of runoff rains.

Around twenty years back, when I only used to grow millets, we used to get very less price for it. So I switched to a combination of turmeric, ginger, rice, millets, potatoes and local vegetables for better income and sustenance. I sell the produce in the local market of Raikia and to the KASAM organisation. My field yields 10-12 quintals of rice and 24 quintals of turmeric a year.