Good seedlings = a rich harvest
Potato farmers learn how to maximise their incomes on the test field – and to think economically.
Sanjay Chowdary and his wife Laxmi show us the potato plant they have just pulled from the ground; at least ten tubers are hanging from it, three times more than the usual number – and the Chowdarys’ expectations are just as high. “We’re sure that we’ll have a rich harvest this year”, says the smallholder, who is testing a new variety of potato on the 800 m² test field this season. The 51-year-old is one of 20 farmers who belong to the newly-established farmers’ group in Wakalwadi. The village with its 200 families is located about 60 kilometres north of Pune in Maharashtra State, India.
A lot has changed since the Green Innovation Centre started its work here in April. First of all, test production was switched from potatoes for processing to potatoes for fresh consumption. Each group member received 250 kilogrammes of high-quality seed potatoes from the Green Innovation Centre. To increase product quality, the farmers also tried out new planting methods such as improved earthing of the potatoes. Sustainable plant protection also plays a major role, preventing plant diseases.
The farmers receive guidance from an innovation consultant of the Green Innovation Centre, who visits the group once a week. “He first walks around our fields checking everything thoroughly”, says Laxmi. “Then at the meeting afterwards, he gives us lots of useful advice about seeds and seedlings, cultivation methods… and the next steps we have to take”.
Something else is also going to change in future: in the past, the Wakalwadi farmers always bought their seed potatoes from traders; but from now on, they’ll reserve part of their potato crop for the next season, giving them more planting area than they had in the previous season. Goraksh Shivaji Pavle, also a member of the Farmers’ Association, is convinced that the concept will work: “Now we’re saving a lot of money and we don’t depend as much on the traders”.
The farmers’ group has meanwhile established a common fund to which members regularly contribute to finance investments for the group. “I’m sure that this project will change our lives. Not just for us 20 farmers, but for the whole village”, says Sanjay Chowdary.
Good seedlings = a rich harvest
The farmer group of Hosahalli
“The consultants of the Green Innovation Center are the force that brought us together,” says Chiddananda Gangappa. Together with other farmers of Hosahalli, he has voted to set up a local farmer group, which will cooperate with the Green Innovation Center in the future.
Hosahalli is all about tomatoes. The shining red fruits are the most important vegetable culture in the area of Kadur in the south of the Indian state Karnataka. However, various diseases, including a viral disease, endanger the cultivation quite massively. “Over the last 15 years, I had a total loss of my crop through the disease,” says Chiddananda Gangappa. Every year he spends a lot of money on plant protection products, but is not satisfied with the result. He particularly criticizes the lack of advice. “When I discover a disease in my tomato field, I take an infected plant and go to the spray retailer, who then gives me a plant protection. He does not consult me, but gives me only the product and says it will help. For example, I have a herbal medicine against harmful insects. I have just shown it to the consultant at the Green Innovation Center and told me that this is an organic product that stimulates plant growth. Now I have spent my money in vain. “
The 42-year-old tomato farmer is not alone with this experience. Every farmer can tell a similar story. Therefore, independent information and advice is at the top of the list of what the farmers in Hosahalli hope for from the cooperation with the Green Innovation Center. “Until now, I did not know at all how important the breeding practices are for our tomato seedlings and what role they play in the spread of the virus illness,” says Raju Sadashivamurthy, one of the largest farmers in the village. “I only learned that tonight.”