The Collective has been striving to help people to rejuvenate, regenerate and revitalise their natural resources and traditional genetic base. The idea is to help them regain control in order to conserve the agro biodiversity in Anantapur district, so that they can combat drought and continue to live a sustainable agricultural lifestyle.

WHY?

Agriculture remains the most important economic activity of Anantapur district but is characterised by high levels of instability and uncertainty. Being located in the rain-shadow region of Andhra Pradesh, the district is drought-prone. Anantapur was one of the thirty-one districts identified by the Government of India as being prone to agriculture-related suicides.

The coarse texture of soil, shallow depths, poor water-retention capacity, high erodability, low organic content, acidity/alkalinity are some of the dominant physical constraints for cultivation in the district.

Traditionally, food grains dominated the cropping pattern of the district. Minor millets such as samai, varagu, korra and major millet such as sorghum, various pulses and paddy were the major food grains in the district. In the early 1960s more than two thirds of gross cropped area was cultivated with food grains. In the recent years the area under groundnut has increased fourfold, from being slightly less than 2 lakh hectare in the early 1960s to 8 lakh hectare by 2010. Minor millets have more or less disappeared from cultivation, while the area under major millets has reduced by 90 percent.

HOW WE WORK?

The Collective works with small holder farmers and various Cooperatives and encourages them to move towards better and sustainable farming practices. The problems of loss of agricultural bio- diversity are highlighted and alternatives demonstrated and discussed with the farmers. Parallel to this, the Collective is promoting the consumption of millets in the daily diet of its own members and friends.

A producer-owned Enterprise, Dharani, has been set-up that markets the organic produce cultivated by its members.

Seed banks:

seed-banksOne of the biggest problems has been the steady erosion of the seed base of traditional crops. Continuous efforts are being put to collect seeds from far and wide to create a Traditional Seeds Bank. The traditional practices of growing these crops have also been extensively documented.

Revival of indigenous breeds of cattle:

CattleThe vital link between agriculture and livestock has also taken a beating with the introduction hybrid varieties of cattle. With this, the availability of manure and draught power has decreased drastically, which in turn affects crop productivity. The Collective has attempted to revive and reintroduce such indigenous breeds. Small holder farmers and members were given a pair of animals to start the process.

Farmer education:

PGS Certification processExtensive trainings and exchanges with knowledgeable farmers have been conducted so as to ensure that sustainable practices are understood and followed diligently.

Marketing:

Dharani-logoSince one of the major factors that influence agriculture is the market demand, a producer owned Cooperative has been set-up that takes up marketing responsibility of the produce of the member farmers. This is packaged, processed and sold at various rural and urban centres at good prices. This has ensured a steady and stable income for the farmers.

Read more about Dharani – the producer-owned agri-enterprise…