Enabavi: An Organic Village inspiring people

Can we grow crops without using chemical fertilisers? Will shift to organic effect our food security? Can we manage in- sect pests without using chemical pesticides? Will it still be profitable for farmers? These are the questions often thrown at us when the problems of modern model of agriculture are discussed.

Enabavi, a small village in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh is probably one village which has answers for sev- eral such questions. The entire land in the village and each crop grown neither use chemical fertilizers nor chemical pes- ticides. This small village attracts visitors ranging from farm- ers to policy makers to understand. In the last three years more than 10,000 people have visited the village. Many of them found their answers talking to the practicing farmers and made shift in thier work.

Warangal district, with most area occupied by commer- cial crops like cotton, is one of those districts under severe farmers distress. From 1997 onwards, large numbers of farm- ers suicies are reported from this district. In the middle of this

distress, Enabavi stands as a ray of hope. Situated off the Hyderabad-Warangal highway near Jangaon town, Enabavi is today an inspiration to many other villages and farmers, thanks to the efforts of the local organization called CROPS, supported by Centre for Sustainable Agriculture [CSA].

It is a small village which showed the resolve of a strong community which decided to take control of its agricul- ture into its own hands. With just 51 households in the village belonging mostly to the backward castes, the village started shifting to non-chemical farming about a decade ago. Then in 2005-06, the entire land of 282 acres was converted to organic farming. There is strong social regulation within the community to ensure that there are no ‘erring farmers’. The elders in the village take the youth along with them. They also have started investing in teaching their school-going children the knowledge and skills of non-chemical farming.

The farmers here grow their food crops of paddy, puls- es, millets etc., In addition, they also grow crops like cotton, chilli, tobacco and vegetables for the market. The farmers process their paddy and sell directly to consumers and also through the Sahaja Aharam Store in Hyderabad. Their aver- age spending on chemical fertilizers and pesticides across crops used to be around Rs. 3500/- per acre, while it was around Rs. 500/- per acre for seeds. This more often than meant credit from the input dealers, who would also double up as traders for the produce. These traders would dictate the price for the produce in addition to charging interest for the inputs supplied. Now, all of this has changed.by

In 70s this village also went through the same process of using more and more chemicals to increase the productiv- ity.

By 1995 the problems started showing up. The invest- ments increased and the returns reduced. The ill effects of pesticides, stagnation of yields were seen in the village. In late 90s pests like Red hairy caterpillar have caused devas- tating effects in this region. Pesticides have shown no relief. The initiatives on managing these using non chemical approaches evolved into Non Pesticidal Management which is now widely practiced in Andhra Pradesh and other states. The confidence on non chemical approaches, helped farmers to shift from chemical fertilisers too. Few farmers started looking for options like like tank silt application, poultry manure application, vermin- compost, farm yard manure etc. The farmers set up their units at their fields and started fol- lowing various ecological practices being recommended to them. They also started to depend on their own seed for many crops, except for crops like cotton. Now farmers also produce seed for other farmers. They have set up farmers’ self help groups for men and women separately and started thrift activities too.

As the farmers moved into more and more sustainable models of production they realized the importance of natural and common resources for sustaining their own livelihood. As a result the tank in the village is managed by the community, they brought in social regulation on use of groundwater, com- mon lands are protected and put to use to produce biomass for the livestock and crop production.

The SHG groups of the farmers in the village have formed a cooperative for supporting themselves and to improve their collective bargaining power in the markets. The Enebavi Organic Farmers Cooperative is member of Sahaja Aharam Farmers Producer Cooperatives Federation.

In 2009 Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Trust has awarded the first ever Krishi Gaurav Award to the village. In the last five years more than 30,000 visitors including Central Minister Sri. Jairam Ramesh, Dr. VL Chopra, Planning Commission Mem- ber, Several officers and committees from state and central governments have visited the village.

Today, Enabavi has many valuable lessons to teach other farmers, not just on how to take up sustainable farming. They also have lessons to share on social regulation, learn- ing from each other, the benefits of conviction born out of experience and most importantly, the way out of agricultural distress by taking control over one’s own farming.