Agri Business

Study suggests return to traditional methods to tackle agri challenges

K V Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on July 30, 2019 Published on July 30, 2019

That the agricultural sector is under tremendous stress is no news. What could be the solution to address this challenge?

Go back to native farm management practices that can provide solutions to some of the serious challenges -- from storage of seeds to tackling pests, says a study conducted by agricultural scientists, agro-economists and farmers in the rain-fed area in Telangana.

The study, Interfacing Farmers’ Science with Formal Science, says the cropping systems that factor in biodiversity offer lessons in crop management.

The study found that seed selection and storage was a specialised knowledge and farmers had amazing expertise, both in selection and storage. It is remarkable that seed storage was completely non-chemical and used household ‘waste’ such as cow-dung ash and red soil.

“The seeds are stored in baskets made by village basket makers. Every farmer has his or her own seeds for use in the next sowing season and are never dependent on the market,” it points out.

The way the small farmers look at insects and weeds is completely different. They differentiate between friendly and harmful insects.

“The cropping calendar designed and practised by farmers was insurance for their food security under the harshest environmental situations. They never depended on external sources for their food grains,” B Suresh Reddy, Associate Professor at the Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), said.

He, along with R Uma Reddy (CESS), Chinna Narsamma, P V Satheesh and Tejaswi Dantuluri (Deccan Development Society), conducted the study.

Releasing the findings of the study, Suresh Reddy said the native agriculture system was inter-twined with emotions, rituals and other facets of their culture. “This inter-relation between their knowledge and culture must be clearly studied and understood by agricultural scientists and researchers,” he said.

Covering an entire cropping cycle in various important agricultural seasons, the study examines all facets of farming from ploughing, soil types, crop selection, soil fertility, water and pest management.

“We covered every single aspect of agriculture from the farmers’ perspective. The study clearly opines that modern agriculture science has a lot to learn from farmers and it must be incorporated in research and the course content of agricultural universities,” he said.

P. V. Satheesh, Director of DDS, said the findings echoed the findings of a similar study by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD).

“Our only hope, as the IAASTD study says, lies in the knowledge systems of peasant farmers and women in resource-challenged areas of the world,” he said.

An important conclusion that the study arrived at was that the package of practices recommended by agricultural establishments were embedded in the farmers’ folklore itself.

Published on July 30, 2019
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