THIRUVANATHAPURAM: Offering incentives to organic farming initiatives, wetland preservation and heronary conservation, which involve the protection of incoming bird species such as water fowls, the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KBB) has decided to go ahead with its documentation.

“Documentation is essential to prove that the model works. For instance, it is proved that organic farming is a profitable initiative far from the propagated notion by some

that it is unviable. With that, agro-biodiversity conservation helps in restoring a balanced ecosystem in harmony with nature,” said R V Varma, chairman, KBB.

Earlier, Maranchery and Veliamkode panchayats in Malappuram district were transformed into a fertile area through wetland conservation. About 800 acres of land here had a bumper yield of paddy worth Rs 1.2 crore from organic farming. In addition, through rotation of fish farming after rice harvest, the farmers had a yield of Rs 2 lakh worth fish. Organic farming and wetland conservation initiatives were taken up on the basis of studies conducted by the Cochin University of Science and Technology.

Similarly, at Alathur and Padeyetty in Palakkad district, agro-biodiversity conservation through organic farming with over 100 acres of paddy and vegetable cultivation in the homely backyards had directly benefited 69 families in the area. It also offered extra income to many families. Interestingly, Angilakatti, a repellant mixture made from five plants, was used to repel insects and cattle from entering the fields. With that, it helped to restore a balanced ecosystem in the area, with insectivorous birds, earthworm, frogs and perching of birds.

In a bid to prevent the rampant poaching of birds, a heronary conservation initiative was launched in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts, and incentives were provided to 21 families that had volunteered to protect birds. A few voluntary organizations also came forward to support the initiative, KBB officials said. Now, more than 10,000 thousands of birds can be seen perched on tree tops with about nine species of water fowls in nearly 300 nests. These species of waterfowls like chinnamundi, cherumundi, pathirakakka, neerkaka and chirakozhi are seasonal birds that flock during migration from nearby places. Even if all the model initiatives are documented, the efforts could go in vain unless there is a government level mechanism to consistently monitor their implementation, according to officials at the Kerala Agriculture Mission. “For instance, in Malappuram the use of imported

bio-pesticides from Tamil Nadu is rampant. They are spurious and contain saw dust, which will not lead to any crop yield, and the people are being cheated. Unless the practice is checked, farmers will have the wrong notion that organic farming is not profitable,” an official said.

Strict governmental mechanism in coordination with various departments, including the agriculture department, is required to motivate local bodies and check the inputs used in organic farming initiatives. “However, we do not have sufficient staffers to monitor the progress of the initiatives,” KBB officials said.

via Organic farming gets a boost – The Times of India.