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SIFS and the small farmer – some responses

Bhoomi Ka works with smallholder farmers to encourage usage of ecological farming methods. These practices are in synchrony with nature.

Sustainable Integrated Farming Systems (SIFS) is an agroecological farming approach that looks at the farm as a miniature biodiverse holistic ‘ecosystem’, instead of a linear production unit. By participating in SIFS training, individuals from organizations working with smallholder farmers across various parts of India, are provided the tools, principles, and techniques to implement the approach.

In today’s circumstances, farmers need the support of training and the revival of possibly forgotten, earth-friendly practices and also the value of shared learnings from across the country, that enrich their knowledge bank. 

That’s why the Sustainable Integrated Farming Systems (SIFS) encourages small-scale farmers all over India to contribute their knowledge of indigenous farming practices to a centralised system and communicate the challenges they face. This makes learnings easy to share and ensures that a single repository of traditional information is gradually developed – one that can be preserved and hence endure.

Here are what they took away from the SIFS training, all in their own words:

Sohanlal Pargi, VAAGDHARA, Anandpuri Block

“As a farmer I’m learning things I didn’t know before. I had heard about things like Vermicompost, compost pits, and dashparni, but I didn’t know how to do these things. On my farm I have a cow, goat, plants, and trees, but by going through this practical learning I have learned how to best make use of these resources in the future.”

Question: What is one exercise you think we must always include in trainings?

Answer: “The plants and trees exercise because it helps us understand what benefits the plants we have provide and what plants we should seek to plant.”

 

Kalyani Das, Agri-Expert, Pravah, Deoghar, Jharkhand

“As a team leader this training has been beneficial for the new learnings and techniques. I have been thinking about how to generate interest and how to train my staff the tools I have learned. The pitcher irrigation was a new learning I did not know before that I am particularly excited to share. Also, designing a farm seasonally and learning by doing are principles I hope to take back with me.

Question: How you will apply this training moving forward?

“By ensuring that we are considering the farmers interests and not forcing them to apply to our methods and interests without generating interest. By understanding their perspective.”

 

Rajeev Rastogi, Field Officer Intercorporation, Uttrakhand

“Coming here I expected to learn about organic farming, and we did. A big lesson I learned was realizing what the requirements of organic farming are. For example during the training I realized how essential having a neem tree is. The biggest takeaway was understanding linkages in a farm and realizing how everything can fit together. During the field trip it was fascinating to see how people had trees and green in the dry climate of Rajasthan and their ability to grow greenery with limited access to water.”

Question: How will you use this training moving forward?

“Now we can align the farmers we work with, with the tools and principles we have learned here like Dashparni. Also we can advise which trees they should plant and what to include on their farm, so they can have food all year. Before we also did not practice seed treatment, now we know how to enrich the seeds.”

Janki Sati, Intercorporation, Community Facilitator, Uttrakhand

“Through this training I learned more about organic farming and how to unite and bring farmers together. I also learned a lot about organic manure, how to farm on challenging rocky terrain, organic pesticide formulas, and about seed preservation. It was helpful to understand the value of trees. I previously knew about trees, but never understood all the different resources they offer and their uses.”

Question: How will you use this training moving forward?

“I will share the knowledge I have gained here with my fellow farmers so everyone can benefit from my experience.”

To read more about the Bhoomi Ka Sustainable Integrated Farming Systems, please click here.

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