Switzerland: organic farms to become biodiversity farms

Today, organic farms already have 30 % more species of flora and fauna and 50 % more individuals than non-organic farms. The organic farming association Bio Suisse together with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and the Swiss Bird Protection Association (SVS) has launched a three-year project to support flora and fauna and promote biodiversity farms.

The project, in which over 60 organic farms in Switzerland will take part, is supported by the Coop Sustainability Fund.
Organic agriculture has more development potential in the field of biodiversity and endeavours to maintain its leading role among the various forms of agriculture.
The participating organic farms receive tailor-made advice and support from an FiBL team.
These support measures focus on the preservation, improvement and creation of valuable new ecological compensation areas – like hedges, fallow land, standard orchards and species-rich meadows. Bio Suisse approved new biodiversity standards at the last delegates conference in April 2011.

 

 

 

Text: Oneco

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2 Responses to Switzerland: organic farms to become biodiversity farms

  1. GLORYDASS says:

    Subject: submission of project proposal on Organic Groundnut cultivation with TRIBALS.
    Promotion of Sustainable – Organic Groundnut Cultivation

    under Rainfed conditions

    (A livelihood source for YANADHI TRIBES with small land holdings)

    in

    6 VILLAGES OF SRIRAMAPURAM PANCHAYATH, SHANTHIPURAM MANDAL, KUPPAM TALUK, CHITTOOR DISTRICT, ANDHRA PRADESH

    Project Period: APRIL 2012 – MARCH 2015

    Project Executing Agency:

    ROSE [Rural Organisation for Social Education]

    # 720, 5TH Cross,

    Goutham Nagar,

    Robertsonpet Post, K G F – 563 122,

    Karnataka State

    Phone: + 91 9535070342

    Email: rosekarnataka@yahoo.com

    I. Target Group

    Small and marginalised tribal farming and labourer families.

    II. Short description of the project aims and activities

    The aim of the project is the sustainable improvement of the living conditions and the food security of the target group with promotion of ORGANIC GROUNDNUT CULTIVATION. . This will be achieved by a number of interlinked activities:

    – Improvement in the agriculture methodology and food security through using organic techniques

    – Income generating activities

    – = Sourcing Government Schemes introduced for tribal welfare

    – Infrastructure for storing and enriching agricultural products

    – Creation of seed banks

    – Better marketing of the produce (Networking with SAHAJA ORGANICS, a farmer producer company which promotes organic agricultural produces)

    III. Description of Executing Agency

    ROSE – Rural Organisation for Social Education, a registered Society, was founded in 1985, is a non-profit, non-political social development organisation founded by Development Worker Mr. Glory Dass with a concern in the development of the marginalised and underprivileged Dalit and Tribal community.

    ROSE works in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh States. In Karnataka, it is operating in Mulabagal and Bangarpet Taluks of Kolar District with Dalits and in Andhra Pradesh, it works with YANADHI TRIBES living in Palamaner and Kuppam Taluks of Chittoor District.

    ROSE works in 60 villages in Kolar District with Dalits and 1n 60 Tribal hamlets in Chittoor District.

    IV. Project Description: Target group/ project location

    a) Introduction

    An involuntary consequence of the so-called GREEN REVOLUTION with its use of high-yield grain varieties and chemical fertilizers and pesticides has been an impoverishment of eco-systems and an increase in production costs especially in agriculturally poor regions.

    Small and marginalised farming Tribes have not been able to manage. The new technologies need as a rule irrigated land and are not suitable for dry land agriculture. Chemical fertilizers, which produce good results in irrigated land, lead in dry lands to soil degradation and thereby to food insecurity and greater poverty. Traditional agricultural practices are dying out and there is an ever greater dependency on external factors.

    This situation has been further aggravated by new laws (e.g. the land reform act of 1995).

    It is becoming more and more difficult for this tribal population to feed their families from their land and they are being forced to look for alternative forms of income. This often leads to migration into cities or to the men being absent for several months in faraway quarries or working as coolies.

    b) Target group

    The target group of this project is made up of small and marginalised tribal farming families with less than 1 ha land and landless coolies and their families in the SRIRAMAPURAM Panchayat of Shanthipuram Mandal of Kuppam Taluk, Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh.

    In all about 200 families will benefit directly from the project and indirectly the whole Gram Panchayat.

    c) Location

    The Sriramapuram Panchayath of Shanthipuram Mandal in Kuppam Taluk of Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh consist 6 tribal hamlets. VADDIVANKA, A GUTTA, RAMANA GUTTA, KANGUNDI, KOUSGANPALLI and PALER are the tribal hamlets identified for the project.

    ROSE carried out a survey in these villages during 2010. The outcome of the survey showed the following aspects;

    – The soil is of poor quality and is in dryland condition. Because of a lack of water preserving bunding there is considerable soil erosion.

    – There is a high use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This leads to ever higher costs and poorer soil quality.

    – High level of indebtedness: the farmers need to take loans from the money lenders to buy seeds, fertilizers and pesticides which often cannot be repaid due to poor harvests.

    – Food insecurity and dependence on market fluctuations: about 60% of the land is being used for cash-crops at the expensive of food crops for their own consumption and for fodder. Nearly all families are dependent for their food on the subsidised PDS. But this system is being slowly abolished and the PDS-shops in the villages are being closed.

    – Lack of employment opportunities: there are no other means of paid employment in the villages other than agricultural work. This leads to men leaving the area in search of work. This phenomenon is increasing drastically especially in the age group of 15 to 45. Most find work in quarries in Tamil Nadu and areas further away. They leave in groups for 3 to 4 months before returning to the villages. In this period they will earn about Rs. 4,000/- to 5,000/-. Many of those returning suffer from breathing problems. In addition to this many accidents occur and every year about 10 men die.

    – Serious health problems due to poor nutrition and to the high use of chemicals.

    Particular reasons for choosing SRIRAMAPURAM PANCHAYATH were:

    – The importance of Sriramapuram as a place from which ideas get spread in the surrounding region

    – The present high use of chemicals

    – Farmers who are willing to listen and accept new ideas

    – 60 to 70% of the families have land and want to be able to live from it

    – The region well-known to ROSE

    v. Project objectives

    The paramount objective of the project is the sustainable improvement of the living conditions and the food security of the target group through implementing sustainable – organic Groundnut Cultivation.

    More specifically:

    – Soil improvement

    – Greater bio-diversity –increase in diversified crops and trees in the farms, mixed cropping and planting different varieties of trees

    – Better yields and variety of food crops and fodder

    – Reduction of external inputs and thereby less indebtedness

    – Better marketing of agricultural products

    – New employment opportunities for the landless

    – Improvement in health

    – Less migration

    VI. Instruments and activities to achieve the project objectives

    · Project preparation

    A Basic survey will collect the following data:

    – The situation of each family of the target group and their educational and economic status

    – The available knowledge about preserving the natural resources

    – The status of the performance indicators at the beginning of the project

    · Training and Orientation

    The purpose and methods of sustainable organic agriculture will be explained in a series of workshops and demonstrations at the hamlet level.

    The following subjects will be covered:

    – The reasoning behind sustainable organic agriculture und it’s methodology

    – The re-establishment of soil health

    – Soil and water conservation

    – Different sorts of compost and their making

    – Importance of deep ploughing

    – The why and how of seed management

    – Making natural agricultural imputs

    – Making natural pest and disease control

    – Importance of mixed cropping and trapping plants

    Visits will be organised to successful examples of organic farming

    · Further agricultural activities

    – Preparation of land, water- and soil conservation, compost making etc.

    – Promotion of kitchen gardens and the provision of local seeds for them

    At village festivals, local seed varieties will be exhibited.

    – ROSE will buy and keep agricultural equipment which it will distribute to the farmers to help the farmers to do what is necessary at the right time.

    – The farmers will be organised in farmers associations which will be regularly visited by the ROSE team.

    – Crop specific farmers associations will also be formed at the village level for which special trainings and demonstration will be given

    · Marketing

    – A farmers federation, which is a legal entity, will be formed at the Panchayath level.

    – The federation will organise marketing workshops.

    – The farms will be certified as organic. For this to happen, the farmers must keep in a diary detailed accounts of everything they have done (with the help of ROSE) and a certification agent must then in due course be invited to inspect the farms.

    – It is planned, if possible, to create a brand image for the organic products from the region within a well-known brand.

    – The products will be sold directly and not through middlemen.

    · Income generation for the landless

    – A revolving fund will be established with the help of which loans will be given to farmers associations and landless-SHGs. The loans will be used, for example,:

    · to buy seeds

    · to buy part of the produce from farmers, to store it and perhaps refine it and then to sell it with a modest profit. (This is also of advantage to those farmers who would otherwise be forced to sell their yield for a low price in order to repay a loan and then be forced later to buy food at a much higher cost from a grocer.)

    · New employment opportunities will be created for the landless and for dry land farmers:

    · running the seed banks

    · refinement and sale of agricultural produce

    · making organic agricultural inputs (Compost, Bio-Pesticides, collection and sale of neem-seeds etc.)

    · Implementing Government Schemes

    The government schemes like National Rural Guarantee Scheme which provides 100 days work per family per year, and various agriculture and horticulture department schemes like soil testing, crop support money, construction of vermin compost pit on subsidy etc these types of schemes will be implemented with the support of government authorities. Along with organising yearly two programs by inviting the line departments to share the government programs to farmers.

    · Health

    – Awareness raising about the consequences to health by using chemical pesticides.

    – Establishment of medicinal plant gardens in each village

    – Training suitable persons in the application of medicinal plants

    · Performance indicators

    Objectives
    Indicators
    Means of Verification

    Sustainable improvement of the living conditions and the food security of the target group
    – Income from yield increases 20%

    – Fodder yield increases by 20%

    – 30% of the families in the project area grow a variety of vegetables, which provides for their own nutritional needs and at the same time brings a saving of at least Rs.200/- per month for purchasing vegetables.

    – 50% of the small and marginalised farmers practice organic agriculture with self produced organic inputs

    – At least 500 acres of land is converted to organic farming.
    Survey

    Farmers diary

    Survey

    Soil test reports

    Soil improvement
    – Increase in soil fertility of 40% (using soil samples)

    – Increase in germination and yield by using better quality of seeds of 75%
    Soil test reports – before and after

    Farmers diary/germination test report

    Greater bio-diversity
    – increase in diversified crops and tree in the farms
    Farm map

    Reduction of external inputs and thereby less indebtedness
    – By using self made organic inputs a reduction of costs for chemical inputs and a reduction of debt problems by 40%
    Farmers Training Minites book/ Farmers diary/

    Savings

    New employment opportunities for the landless
    – At least 200 landless find employment in or related to agriculture

    – Increase of income of the landless by 20%
    Increase in Savings-Individual pass book

    Better marketing of agricultural products
    -Increase in income by 10% for their produce by direct market
    Reports and documents of products sold

    Improvement in health
    – Reduction in cases of poisoning by pesticides by 40%

    – Number of cases of malnutrition and skin diseases reduced by 30%
    Baseline survey and report on medical expenses

    Less migration
    – Migration reduced by 30%
    Farmers diary

    Note: Most of the verifications are compared with baseline survey which is done before starting the project and after implementation of the project i.e every year end.

    · Project evaluation

    An external evaluation will take place at the end of 2012 – 2013. The achievement of the objectives will be carefully analysed using the data collected in the initial survey.

    The results of the evaluation and the recommendations thereby made will be used to adjust the further project activities.

    · Duration of the project and timetable of activities.

    In each village, ROSE will give intensive training and supervision during the project period.

    · Project sustainability

    After the completion of the project all the planned activities will be self-sustainable.
    Agriculture: the project activities have been planned to enable the target group to continue with organic agriculture on their own after project completion.
    · Project preparation

    This project was first discussed with tribal families during a visit to the project area in 2010. Then sufficient time was spent with the families to plan and refine the project objectives and activities and to test them.

    During a visit in April 2011, a problem analysis with about 30 farmers and landless was carried out. The subsequent objectives analysis has been used to make this proposal.

    During the preparation phase, ROSE has had an intense exchange of experiences with Technical experts from Bangalore and with other farmers practising organic agriculture and with other NGOs working in this field.

    ROSE staff has attended seminars on organic agriculture, biological methods of pest and disease control and on seed bank management

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