Farmers from Kedia, a village in Jamui district, Bihar, have been working in the fields for generations, taking great pride in putting food on the plates of families around the country. Food, that in the past few years, has been increasingly laden with pesticides and chemical fertilisers that we now recognise as slow poisons.
The brilliance of the Kedia model is that it uses innovative, progressive technologies to drive a return to traditional farming, with no resultant loss of yield. Farming without chemicals, adopting innovative ecological solutions such as vermicomposting, making their own pesticides using neem, tobacco, organic manure from animal and human waste collected in cowsheds and EcoSanitation or EcoSan toilets, and so on. These methods ensure recycling of nutrients in the soil, making it fertile and resilient.
Kedia’s farmers are witnessing tremendous benefits to the health of the soil, the farming community, the village, and by becoming an icon of the eco-ag movement, to the global environment too!
The story of 16-year-old Nilam, fondly known as Nilu, is a great example. Like other women from the village, Nilu, too, used to go to the river for her sanitation needs, which was uncomfortable and, beyond daylight hours, didn’t feel safe. With an EcoSan toilet constructed right by her home, there is now a safe way for Nilu and other women to use the facility at all hours, with the waste collected in the sealed tanks below.
All the waste collected, whether through the EcoSan toilets or through the pucca cattle sheds installed as part of the same project, is used as manure for the fields or as fuel for the biogas plants installed alongside. The residue or the slurry from the biogas plants is also used as manure or in vermicompost units.
The four elements of this eco-ag model – cattle shed, eco-san toilet, biogas plant and vermicompost beds – form a satisfying ‘closed loop’ for generating nutrient-rich fertilisers and a pollution-free source of cooking fuel, ensuring the sanitary health, apart from giving them privacy, safety and financial security. From farm to food and back again, the life-cycle is complete.
Result: Young people like Nilu are now staying back in Kedia to take up farming as a profession, and the numbers are impressive:
282 vermicomposting units installed in Kedia
42.6% reduction in chemical fertiliser usage
95.2% farmers’ saving on input cost
61 biogas plants by the end of 2016
11 EcoSan toilets
100% farmers have switched to ecological pest management solution
ZERO negative impact on yield.
Kedia has reached this level of self-sufficiency thanks to the ongoing efforts of Greenpeace India campaigners, who helped set up the “Jeevit Maati Kisan Samiti” and facilitated the farming community’s access to a number of incredibly useful government schemes.
Although Kedia residents worked at this for years, they are no longer alone in their efforts: as you read this, 24 volunteers from six states in India are working in Kedia fields, learning how to apply ecological agriculture methods to city lives. An online crowdfunding campaign is also on, for other urban citizens to join in and raise funds for a solar-powered eco-freezer.
The news about Kedia’s success is spreading from village to village, to towns and cities. Happier farming communities, healthier soil and safer food for all of us.
Isn’t that a perfectly eco(logical) solution?