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2 years ago
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organic farming india Umendra Dutt Good News India

posted by
Korou Khundrakpam
New story on GoodNewsIndia: Umendra Dutt’s Mission to revive natural farming

"…He quit Delhi and moved to Jaitu, near Bhatinda, a town of noisy streets lined with pesticide and fertiliser shops, open drains and vehicles racing about everywhere. He also quit the RSS; from now on he would belong to no party but befriend all parties in furtherance of his cause. He formed the Kheti Virasat Mission [KVM] -Mission for Traditional Agriculture- in 2005. The idea was to contact farmers, in ones and twos, persuade them to experiment with natural, traditional practices, to value quality and health above money, to become successes that others would emulate. He knew it was an unequal fight against the chemical monster that stalked Punjab but there was no other way to begin…"

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2 years ago
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farming organic organic farming Manipur

posted by
Korou Khundrakpam
zoom Today I woke up at 5:30! I had a quick breakfast and headed off to the office of Women’s Action for Development. There, I rendezvoused with Kundo and Che Babicha (and her 9 months old son) and we went together to pick up Che Anjulika and Broiler (a girl, Che Babicha’s cousin actually). We were going to visit Sangita’s field at Maklang. Che Babicha had trained Sangita in organic farming using bokashi a few years back; and she was one of the very few people who was convinced of the potential of this technique and worked hard implementing it. She eventually reaped the benefits of getting bountiful harvests and a progressively fertile land. Kundo and I had heard a lot about her from Che Babicha and was eager to meet her. Reaching there, we found this cheerful 26 years old girl wearing a straw hat and wielding a spade! The sole bread earner of her family and a responsible member of her community, her dedication and accomplishment (I would call it that) at such a young age is very inspiring.
Today she is sowing rice in her 3 acres field, which she had enriched with bokashi one month back. We were there to document it. WAD is working on a documentary film mapping Sangita’s experience of growing rice with organic farming this growing season. Che Babicha told us about it when we went to visit her a few days back, and we offered to volunteer. It was a great learning experience for us too. We were intrigued to find out that there were more reasons of people not taking up organic farming than mere ignorance. Among others, there are conspiring middlemen at State Agriculture Department who stand to lose from large scale adoption of organic farming. Interestingly in this case, there is allegedly a gender politics side to it too. Since it is a girl, and that too a very young one, who is adopting this technique and advocating it in her community, the other farmers (mostly male) seem to ridicule her novel ways. Such is the complexity of human blunder!
Anyways, after filming the procedures and some interviews we headed to Sangita’s house. We took some shots there as well and rested for a while. We had a delicious lunch there before heading back with fresh organic vegetables she and other farmers from her community offered us from their kitchen garden. We will be going back soon to follow the progress of her crops. I hope later on, this film will play a tremendous role in convincing the people of Manipur to take up organic farming.

Today I woke up at 5:30! I had a quick breakfast and headed off to the office of Women’s Action for Development. There, I rendezvoused with Kundo and Che Babicha (and her 9 months old son) and we went together to pick up Che Anjulika and Broiler (a girl, Che Babicha’s cousin actually). We were going to visit Sangita’s field at Maklang. Che Babicha had trained Sangita in organic farming using bokashi a few years back; and she was one of the very few people who was convinced of the potential of this technique and worked hard implementing it. She eventually reaped the benefits of getting bountiful harvests and a progressively fertile land. Kundo and I had heard a lot about her from Che Babicha and was eager to meet her. Reaching there, we found this cheerful 26 years old girl wearing a straw hat and wielding a spade! The sole bread earner of her family and a responsible member of her community, her dedication and accomplishment (I would call it that) at such a young age is very inspiring.

Today she is sowing rice in her 3 acres field, which she had enriched with bokashi one month back. We were there to document it. WAD is working on a documentary film mapping Sangita’s experience of growing rice with organic farming this growing season. Che Babicha told us about it when we went to visit her a few days back, and we offered to volunteer. It was a great learning experience for us too. We were intrigued to find out that there were more reasons of people not taking up organic farming than mere ignorance. Among others, there are conspiring middlemen at State Agriculture Department who stand to lose from large scale adoption of organic farming. Interestingly in this case, there is allegedly a gender politics side to it too. Since it is a girl, and that too a very young one, who is adopting this technique and advocating it in her community, the other farmers (mostly male) seem to ridicule her novel ways. Such is the complexity of human blunder!

Anyways, after filming the procedures and some interviews we headed to Sangita’s house. We took some shots there as well and rested for a while. We had a delicious lunch there before heading back with fresh organic vegetables she and other farmers from her community offered us from their kitchen garden. We will be going back soon to follow the progress of her crops. I hope later on, this film will play a tremendous role in convincing the people of Manipur to take up organic farming.

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2 years ago
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farming chicken poultry chicks ugly manipur

posted by
Kundo

That ugly phase that all chickens go through

So, I shifted the first batch of chickens (local breed) to a bigger place.

Some of them from the first batch that hatched had developed curled toes. It was probably due to injuries caused by the other mother hen as the earlier place that they were sharing was too small for so many chicks. I had made shoes for their feet to rectify them and it worked. The shoes were made using perforated tapes and looked somewhat like this. I didn’t document it since I was too depressed about their curled toes. Now they are all grown up ugly, but fine, teenage chicks with healthy feet that take them everywhere with the speed of Road Runner. 

At this stage they look quite ugly. They are probably the ugliest looking chicks that are around. I can’t wait to see them all grown up and in their full glory. It’s hard to relate these tyrannosaurus-like figures with the cute and round fluffy things that they were a few months ago. 

They are quite agile and they eat a lot, which is a good thing for these youngsters. 

They have even had their “fight” to establish the pecking order… that’s chicken hierarchy for you. It made the bigger chicks look even uglier with their wound marks. The bigger ones seem to have gone for many rounds of fights, all the way to the semi-finals and the finals.  

This is the second hen with her batch of chicks. They haven’t yet weaned from the mother but are as notorious as the first batch. 

I thought this was a funny picture. 

That’s the first hen on the top right and the rooster standing near her. And the second hen and her chicks in the foreground. 

They have plenty of straw to play with. And when it rains, they have a great time digging them up and catching earthworms hidden among them. 

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2 years ago
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farming food coffee sprout sustainable manipur plant

posted by
Kundo

Remember those raw coffee beans?

They have sprouted. If you don’t then here they are.

They took almost three months to sprout even after getting sown! They refused to germinate before the rains. 

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2 years ago
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nature farming field green natural farming manipur masanobu fukuoka totoro

posted by
Korou Khundrakpam

Site for our future natural farm

So we went to check out this field my family bought long time back. It is around 10km from Imphal City where we live. Not a long distance at all. And we found out that the road leading to the field from the highway has been metaled, though poorly. This is a very welcome development. This 1.5 acre field is actually a little too high for the conventional way of growing rice which floods the fields for most part of the growing season. So we had to settle for less harvest so far. However, fortunately it will be very apt for the method of natural farming developed by Masanobu Fukuoka. Which brings me to the crux of this post, this is the site we plan to start our natural farm in once we are done with some research and preparation! And this is such a gorgeous location right at the foothill and is part of a stretch of valley surrounded by hills on three sides. With the gentle breeze and the rain washed greens, we were having a Totoro moment standing right there! We were so thrilled we forgot to take some detailed photographs. Anyways we will be visiting this place again soon. Exciting times ahead.

On the way back, we had a Totoro smile on our faces.

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2 years ago
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Debal Deb farming green revolution zero growth economy sustainability nature India developmentalism

posted by
Korou Khundrakpam

A good news

The GoodNewsIndia website is up again after a long time. And this is the story they are starting with this time. The story of a determined ecologist Dr. Deb struggling to save us from (yes from) the aftermath of the green revolution. He currently runs an in-situ farming facility which grows 700 varieties of indigenous hardy species of rice every year to save them from extinction till the farmers can shed the doctrines of the green revolution and adopt them. These seeds were collected from the fringes of east India which was fortunately untouched by the green revolution. He also talks about a ‘zero growth economy’ being the only way to achieve a sustainable fulfilling livelihood. Thanks to GoodNewsIndia for making me acquainted with Dr. Deb and his works. I have just ordered his book, Beyond Developmentality (it’s available on flipkart.com btw)to find out more. I’ll keep sharing whatever interesting I come across.

… Debal was chasing a fast disappearing integrated life in India, in which traditions, cuisine, dialect, music, festivals, the calendar of seasons and behavioural prescriptions played a part in creating self reliant communities. What threatened it now? In a word, ‘developmentality’- a word he has coined, a word that at once conveys the serious malaise of modern man.

First make ‘development’ an unquestionable given. Then make all that is justified in its name, a priority. If you cannot convince people, coerce them. Promise a life with less work, easier money and freedom to ‘enjoy’. In marxist run Bengal every village was politicised with apparatchiks strutting about everywhere. To be a cadre was itself a career. All that that was asked of them was to deliver consent and compliance to the central leadership. “What unites capitalism and communism,’ Debal wryly observes “is industrialisation.”…

Read more

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2 years ago
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farming chicken chicks leghorn koiler? coiler? layer rookie poultry farmer

posted by
Kundo

Poultry farm invaded and occupied!

So, Mama and I decided one fine afternoon that we should get some layer chickens since we keep buying eggs from elsewhere. And as the second batch of my chickens that had hatched were pretty strong and healthy and had grown up a bit, we decided to move it to another area which I had prepared for them. This, you can hardly call a poultry farm. It’s just a small enclosed space on our terrace that we had previously been using for roasting fish. 

So, we got three leghorns and two koilers (or is it coilers? at least that is what we call them in Manipur). When they arrived, I showed them to my sister and she decided that they were cute enough to adopt. She was particularly fascinated by the leghorns since she has been seeing black coloured chicks all this while. She admits that she is a chicken racist! 

So, that is how my mini poultry farm got invaded and occupied by the 5 chicks and my sister. My sister is pretty sincere with them though. She has been preparing their feed and even catching them in the evening and putting them inside their night box. But she was quite frightened by these little monsters on the first day and I had to catch them instead. She caught two of them today evening within half an hour… that’s applaudable by her standards! Mama had to catch the remaining three.

These factory bred chicks are very different from my local (almost wild) chicks. The local chicks are very very active and it’s difficult even to count them unless I catch them one by one and put them in a box. These are very tame and their movements are considerably slower. The local chicks fight over their food like crazy while these are clumsy eaters. I hope I can make them more intelligent and intuitive. They aren’t even scared of my dogs when they approach their cage. They need to acquire a greater degree of instinct. 

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2 years ago
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farming chicken hen chicks eggs hatched

posted by
Kundo

Hatched!

These pictures are more than a month late and I have been keeping them as draft all this while. But I decided that it is better to share them than not. My first ever batch of chicks hatched on 17th last month and they have grown a lot since then. They are 14 in all with one rotten egg which didn’t hatch… which is a lot, I suppose. My second batch of eggs had also hatched during this period and they are a set of 15 chicks. I guess I am lucky with hatching chicks. Or I am lucky to have hard working hens. 

So, the morning of 17th March, 2012, I was greeted with this sight. I looked into the nest like every morning after refilling the feed to check if the eggs had hatched. Nothing had prepared me to handle such excitement! Not even knowing that chicks come from eggs. I mean, I was always wired to look at eggs as inanimate objects… food kept in cartons or refrigerators… an ingredient in my recipes. But seeing this happening in front of my eyes… these tiny fur balls with life. Nothing prepared me for it!

They were still clumsy and wobbly and were trying to figure out how to walk. And since they had just hatched, they were as tiny as an egg.  

I got a range of browns and blacks with this batch and I am excited as hell to see them grow their feathers. 

During the brooding period, they have been sheltering under the mother whenever the opportunity called. It was funny to see them go under the hen since it made her look almost multi-legged. But now, they have grown out of it. I will try and upload a recent picture of them very soon. 

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2 years ago
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farming hen chicken egg cabbage incubation

posted by
Kundo

So, the first hen has been incubating for some days now (started on 24th Feb.). And the second hen has been laying eggs too. I have been feeding them green cabbage leaves, roasted fish heads and bones and rice bran powder. This seems to be the best diet for making them lay eggs. I had tried eggplants, mustard greens, etc. but that made the hens stop laying eggs. I guess bitter foods are not good for reproduction. Broccoli and other mild tasting brassicaceae family like lettuce, cauliflower, etc. do the trick as well, I guess.

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2 years ago
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fowl chicken andro manipur farming

posted by
Kundo

Korou and I went to Andro (museum) yesterday and since I am into chickens (raising them) these days, I took notice of these two beautiful pair and took some pictures. Andro is a remote village situated in the Indian state of Manipur and life in Andro is still pretty much the same as that of the olden days. The chicken breeds that people raise there are closely related to the wild jungle fowls and are much tastier than the commercial varieties that we usually get in the cities.