India is the largest grower of pulses and ranks second as the second largest producers of rice, wheat, several dry fruits, coconut, sugarcane and numerous types of vegetables and fruits. This sector is so vast that it contributes majorly to our country’s economy. India and many other countries in the world rely on the Indian Agricultural Sector for their food needs. According to the Statista Research Department, the agriculture sector of India provides employment to over 60% of India’s population and contributes about 18% to India’s GDP. The agriculture sector is an extremely crucial aspect of our country that needs to be taken care of as 3/5th of the entire population depends on it for their livelihood. So how can we increase production rates organically?
If you are into agriculture and farming, you would know that certain crops need particular soil to grow in and produce good yield. We all studied about alluvial soil and black soil in school, but what we didn’t know was that using the wrong soil could result in poor quality crops, which might then wither and die. The pH level of the soil and right amount of the different elements in the soil contributes to a healthy yield. So, one of the major factors for good yield of crops is the quality of the soil.
Gautham Nayak, one of the co-founders of InUnity, was approached by the local stakeholders i.e. the farmers if their issue could be resolved as this was a real concerning issue amongst many people and that this needed to be solved quickly. According to the Institute of Social and Economic Change in Bangalore, they found out that agriculture supports approximately 14 million people in Karnataka and these people probably need help expanding their business or learning how to grow crops effectively. This is why, Mahabaleshwar Bhat, Sanchith Jain, Shrithi C H, and KJ Yashavantha, who are known as Team Krishikula came together to solve this issue.
As they started visiting these farms they noticed that they were using the right soil, but they still tried their best to alter different elements of the soil to see how they could get the best yield. After putting it to test, the farmers told them that the tested soil did not work.
The Real Challenge
The initial problem statement given to them was to do soil testing by seeing which elements suited which crops. According to the farmers, the problem lies in the soil and nothing else. By wanting to produce a better yield and make better income by mass production, they failed to achieve the desired output they required. After making tons of adjustments and altering the pH and nutrients of the soil, they found out that the problem wasn’t just with the soil but with the farmers as well…
They soon came to realize that the problem lay in the fact that the farmers were using inorganic farming methods like using fertilizers to achieve results. This is very important as we need to make sure that our agricultural habits are clean as it directly affects the food we consume. If the food we eat is tampered, and produced by inorganic methods to increase revenue, it would result in a myriad of problems.
They reconducted all their field visits and visited a few farms and asked farmers about their farming practices and the types of fertilizers they used. The results were not shocking but it was disappointing to see that most of the farmers they interviewed used chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Due to the lack of education in rural areas, farmers are unable to understand why we shouldn’t use chemical fertilizers as long as they are getting the results. They are told by fellow farmers in their region that these methods are the best way to go and that no one needed to know that they were using chemicals as long as they were getting the desired yield. As there aren’t many visible short term effects of the use of chemical fertilizers, farmers would continue using them until they realize it was too late. They aren’t being informed of the major long term effects that would affect the masses just because of their wrong practices. This isn’t the farmers fault, as they don’t realize what they are doing, but this doesn’t mean we should allow them to continue doing this. The use of pesticides affects both the environment and human health. Health effects of these chemicals range from mild allergies and breathing difficulties to more fatal diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and cancer.
This was a problem within a problem that needed serious help. The solution they devised was a center where farmers could meet every month and get regular advice and opinions on how they should cultivate their crops. This problem statement is technically interrelated to the education system, as even though these farmers are experienced and have been in this field for many years, they used harmful methods to get the desired output. So by opening up these centers, Mahabaleshwar and his team hope to change the way farmers look at farming and also take into account various other factors before only looking at the profits.