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Know your Farmer - Mangala Bhat

posted Sep 7, 2015, 7:24 PM by Prakriti Food   [ updated Sep 7, 2015, 7:25 PM ]
There was lot of skepticism on Saturday , 5 September as we started the day as it was both Krishna janmasthami as well as bandh called by Rajya Raitha Sangha and allied groups , but we forged ahead saying let us see how it goes and to be true it went on fantastic. 

The meeting started out with Mangala, a women farmer  about 20 kms from Mysore tending the earth for last 25 years, her 8 acres of land.

She talked about how she came into farming and had to say the following
1. We are happy to grow our own food, in fact our farming started out by just growing enough for our daily need but later we expanded and started selling in organic outlets. 
2. You can use sour buttermilk to spray your plants to get rid of white flies. 
3. We grow turmeric and the turmeric is harvested and boiled in water along with cow dung of native cow, drained and scrubbed to remove the skin, followed by drying and powdering it. 
4. She does not use any artificial pesticide or fertilizers. the more humus in your land the less pest attack you have. 
5. The excess food she grows is usually converted into finished produce like jam pickles and  also they extract their coconut oil. 

This was followed by Suma's demonstration on Bokashi composting.
1. There are two boxes to be used one after another. First fill the first box with your kitchen waste with one layer of waste sandwiched between rice barn which is treated with bacteria. 
Once the box if full, leave it for 'pickling' for  2 weeks, this is anaerobic stage of composting. This is followed by aerobic method, where the 'pickled' waste is mixed with coco coir and left another 2 weeks to the compost to get ready to be used. 
while the first box is left for ' pickling'. the second box can be put to use for anaerobic composting. 

In between the two programs there were few interesting questions that came  which has given risen to a whole approach for community participation.
 
Shamsundar:  How can small land holders hold onto their land?
Smt. Mangala: . By encouraging buying vegetables and produce from farm not looking at colour, shape and size, each one of you will help small land holding farmer survive.
 
Shamsundar: There is lot of glut and perishable farm produce should be converted into processed food. 

Smt. Mangala: Yes, we do process excess farm produce into jam, squash, pickle and such. If need be I can teach how to make jam , pickle etc. 

Shamsundar: I have excess guava in my farm and they are going waste if someone can collect them and convert them into jam, I'll be very grateful.

The conservation got so interesting that everyone stated pitching in.Few of the members promised to collect guava and make them into jam but they said they needed recipes to which few of them came forward to share recipes.
This lead to discussion on sharing traditional knowledge and passing it on to the next generation. 
Shamsundar proposed he was ready  to install oil expeller for the community to be used free if Nesara Farmers'  Market was ready to give space. To which Balachandran, readily agreed, space was lloked up and the space behind Nesara outlet was decided to be the place to the oil expeller to be set up.