After focusing on Global Farmer Network members’ thoughts about trade recently, this week we’ll return to views on sustainability – and specifically from a small village in the southwestern state of Karnataka, India
Sudhindra Kulkarni wrote a few years ago that “As a farmer, I can say that based on my past experience of farming, since the arrival of GM cotton, my crops are free of pests, healthier and my farm has become sustainable.” He went on to say, “It’s the only way to farm sustainably.”
Mr. Kulkarni wrote that in a column he authored for Global Farmer Network (GM Crops Support Sustainable Farming in India – Nov 3, 2016), and he happens to be one of the participants from the 2012 Global Farmer Roundtable.
Of course, there’s far more to sustainable farming practices than just beneficial biotech traits for crops, and Suhindra shares some more thoughts below from his personal experiences on his farm in the northern part of his state in India.
*English is a second language for most members of the GFN and responses may be lightly-edited for clarity.
A Farmer Reacts: Sustainability — Sudhindra Kulkarni, Karnataka State, India
Question: What is your definition of sustainable farming.
Answer: According to me, sustainable farming is using whatever the resources which are available naturally, locally and can be recycled for agriculture, which are sustainable and reduce my dependency on external inputs thereby reducing my cost of cultivation.
Question: What farming practices are you using on your farm today that helps the sustainability of your farming operation and the soil that you are farming on?
Answer: I have reduced using synthetic fertilizers to fifty percent when I started enriching my soils with FYM (Farm Yard Manure) and incorporating the crop residues in the soil. As I grow legumes regularly, it helps in building the fertility status of my soils. After the introduction of GM crops, especially Bt cotton, my pesticides sprays have come down drastically. Alternate pest management methods helps to keep the pests at bay. These little practices helping me maintain the sustainability of my farming.
Question: Where do you get information about sustainable farming practices that are appropriate for your farm?
Answer: I get information on sustainable farming through talking with fellow farmers, farm universities, KVK’s and ICAR (Government institutes), television, print media (newspapers) as well as though social media.
Question: How do you determine what practices work best on your farm?
Answer: Based on my own past experiences or through the experiences of fellow farmers, I determine which practices works best for me.
Question: Are there specific technologies that will support the sustainability of your farming operation?
Answer: Yes. Specific practices like soil and water conservation methods practiced in the countries like Israel may help to grow more crop per drop. Machines for tillage, harvesting and threshing. Scouting techniques for pest and diseases to take pest control decisions which helps in minimizing the cost of cultivation. Better storage facilities at the villages, good connecting roads and e-marketing helps to improve our farming operations.
Question: Do you share sustainable farming practices that you use with other farmers? If yes, how?
Answer: Yes. I am already doing it and ready to it in future as well through personal communication, publishing my success story through print, social media and also through radio and television interviews.