Insight from Civil Society Engaging
with Science and Technology
NPM Scaling up in Experiences in AP
Civil society was always engaged in establishing
models of development on a smaller scale and lobby for changes in the dominant
policy paradigm. While very few of them are accepted and adopted by the
governments and international agencies, many are discounted questioning their
relevance on a larger scale. In mainstreaming the accepted models, often
governments try to fit them into the existing thinking and systems which often
lead to failure. Rarely one gets an opportunity to design and implement the
scaling up from a small experience. The NPM scaling up in AP is one such good
case to understand the nuances of scaling up.
Crisis looming over the agriculture based
livelihoods in Andhra Pradesh is evident
- 16 out of 32 distress districts are in
- Ever increasing costs of cultivation
due to externalization of inputs specially seeds and pesticides
- Dependency on traders and dealers for
- Increasing ecological costs due to
high chemical and GM use
- Decreasing margins to farmers
- Political distress-farmers loosing
control over seeds (cotton to groundnut)
Andhra Pradesh has a history of witnessing spate
Farmers Suicides every decade mainly due to failure of cotton crop. In 1987-88
in Prakasham and Guntur districts more than 100 farmers died after the cotton
crop failed due to heavy incidence of pests. Many farmers from these districts
have migrated to Telangana region where lands were available at lower prices for
purchase and lease. They again started to test their luck with cotton which
initially showed promise. Others in the region also started adopting similar
practices. The tentacles of the pesticide and seed industry have not spared
them. The costs of cultivations increased. The problems with pests and seed
also increased. The crisis mounted and during 1997-98, hundreds of cases of
suicides were reported from the Warangal and other cotton growing regions.
During 2004-05, the year when the elections were fought and new government came
to power more than 2000 farmers ended their lives in despair. This time the
incidents were not limited to cotton crop or dry land regions but spread across
districts and farmers growing all kinds of crops.
This crisis during 2004-05 forced the development
organizations and state government to look for alternative models of agriculture
which can sustain the livelihoods of the people depending on agriculture. The
success of "Punukula" village in Khammam district with support from Centre for
Sustainable Agriculture which sustained the farming by switching over to Non
Pesticidal Management (NPM) has attracted the attention of the state and
nation. Hon"ble Minister for Agriculture, Raghuveera Reddy visited the village
along with Agriculture Scientists and Department Officials and appreciated the
effort done by the farmers. Prof. Jayati Ghosh, Chairperson of the Commission
appointed by Government of Andhra Pradesh also visited the village and suggested
to take up on a larger scale. Learning from these experiences SERP (Society
for Elimination of Rural Poverty-a society initiated by Government of AP to
address the poverty issues in AP) has taken up NPM on a pilot basis in Kosigi
Mandal of Mahboobnagar district with support of WASSAN and CSA during
December"04 –April "05, covering 350 farmers growing red gram in 400 acres in 12
villages. The farmers could save more than Rs. 1500/acre on pest management.
The successful grounding of NPM during 2004-05 has given
important learning on how any ecologically sound and economically benefiting
technology can be scaled up by providing proper institutional support. Based on
these experiences the program was initiated in 9 districts of Andhra Pradesh
covering 25,000 acres and gradually extended to 18 districts in 2007-08. The
results were very encouraging and the response from farmers was enormous. The
costs of cultivation could be brought down significantly and in most of the
villages pesticide usage has come down by more than 70 %. In the current year
the program is implemented in about 1500 villages and plans indicate 5 lakh
acres coverage during kharif and rabi.
A state level campaign on the impacts of pesticides was initiated by CSA and
network of NGOs through Media, through Kalajatha(folk) in almost all the
Establishing field experience:
Mandal has been taken as a unit with 3-5 villages, in each mandal with
around 30-35 farmers in each village in the first year gradually covering
the entire village in two years time. Farmers were identified after an
initial campaign on the alternatives is carried out. Villages were selected
so that all are more or less in close vicinity. Districts were selected
based on ongoing work, existing experience and areas where pesticide-related
problems are high. In each district up to 5 mandals where pesticide usage is
high were selected for implementation of the program.
Farmers" Field Schools:
Farmers are grouped into Farmers" Field Schools (Sasyamitra Sangha). These
are learning groups which meet regularly in the fields and learn by doing.
Village Activist will coordinate the conduct of the field schools. Gradually
they would be federated to form ‘Rythusanghas" at the village level.
Resource material in the form of manuals, flip charts, films are produced
and given to every group.
In these districts, experienced NGOs from
the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SANET) coordinated by Centre for
Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) were identified and are associated with the
programme. Initially two or three mandals were selected for facilitation by
In each village a practicing farmer is
selected as village activist to coordinate the work. At the cluster level
(of five villages) Cluster Coordinator helps in coordinating the work. The
Cluster Coordinators are trained regularly by the supporting NGOs.
Program Management with MMS:
Continuing the spirit of SERP, the
entire program is anchored with the Mandal Mahila Samakhyas" and their
Village Organisations. The Funds are released to the MMS and the Samakhya
appoints Cluster Activists and enter into agreement with NGOs. The program
is regularly reviewed by the NPM sub committee at the VO, MMS and Zilla
Support is only in the form of technical
support or any infrastructure like neem seed powder making units.
Committees with DRDA officials are also
formed at the district level. At the state level State Executive Committee
coordinates the work.
An Annual General Body Meeting will review
the implementation, discuss and finalize the program and guidelines every
year in February.
Grounding the work 2005-06
During 2005-06 NPM was initiated in 450
villages with 23000 acres in 9 districts. All over 9 districts 11766 farmers
with 22581 acres in both Kharif and Rabi implemented the program. Sixty two MMS,
150 Mandal level coordinators and 450 village activists are involved in the
program. This clearly established that a paradigm shift in understanding pest
management both at farmers level and extension system level can effectively
tackle the pest problem and also give ample benefits to farmers in terms of
savings on input costs, health costs etc. Better quality products from such
production systems also fetch a better price to farmers and are highly preferred
by discerning consumers (refer
Also, the NPM intervention for the first time shifted the control in terms of
production back to the farmer.
Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture 2006-07
The successful grounding of NPM during 2005-06 has
given important learning on how any ecologically sound and economically
benefiting technology can be scaled up by providing proper institutional
support. During 2006-07 more farmers in the same villages and more villages in
the same districts and few newer districts joined the program. The program
covered 1250 villages in 17 districts covering wide variety of crops from
groundnut, paddy to chillies and cotton. Program expanded to districts like
Guntur where the pesticide problem is serious and north coastal Andhra Pradesh
where the productivities are in general low. The program is implemented in
Adilabad, Ananthapur, Chittor, Guntur, Kadapa, Karimnagar, Khammam, Kurnool,
Mahaboobnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nellore, Ranga Reddy, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam,
Vizianagaram and Warangal. More than 80,000 farmers are cultivating about 1.8
lakh acres. In addition to pest management, initiations on soil productivity
management and seed management have begun on a small scale. Agriculture credit
from formal banks was mobilised in 3 districts to the tune of 15 crores.
In addition to NPM, efforts were initiated to
establish seed networks so that farmers produce and share their seed. The pilot
in Ananthapur has shown good results. In addition efforts are also began to
have non chemical soil productivity improvement practices based on the
experiences of the villages like ‘Yenabavi" in Warangal which became the first
organic village in the state.
The benefits are not only seen in areas of high
pesticide use but in areas of low pesticide use. The crop could be saved from
the pests and diseases and managed well instilling new interest in the farmers.
The Community Seed Banks were piloted in 12 villages
of Ananthapur which showed very encouraging results. The farmers could produce
and share seed with fellow farmers at the village level in crops like groundnut,
paddy and pulses.
During 2006-07 while the institutional systems are
further strengthened focus was also given to specific commodities like paddy and
groundnut in Kurnool district, red gram in Mahaboobnagar, cotton in Warangal and
Khammam and chillies in Guntur. The marketing links were explored. The NPM
products were in demand and could command premium in the market. The local
processing and marketing of the commodities have also brought in additional
benefits to the farmers.
This scaling up experience in AP has broken the myth
that pesticides are inevitable in agriculture and also given important lessons
on the paradigm shift in technology, institutional systems and support systems
required for sustaining agriculture especially of small and marginal farmers.
Consolidating experiences and converging efforts
During 2007-08 the program will be consolidated in
the existing villages and star procurement centres of SERP. In the villages
which are in second year, works on soil productivity management with local
resources and local seed management have been planned.
This year Spices Board came forward to support the
NPM program for chilli crop. Hon"ble Minister for Commerce Dr. Jairam Ramesh
promised to bring at least 50 % of the chillies area under NPM. Sixty percent
of the chillies exports are from Andhra Pradesh and often the export
consignments (included the processed products like pickles) are rejected due to
chemical pesticide residues.
This year all the star procurement centres of SERP
are also brought under NPM so that the production and market linkages can be
easily established. The marketing Community Resource Persons are also trained
in NPM and would be used in the program. Similarly best performing villages are
identified as resource villages and best practicing farmers are identified as
community resource persons who will help in further scaling up of the program.
This year the program covers more than 5 lakh acres
across 18 districts (Nizamabad is added) covering all the farmers in about 2000
villages. This year the program will also be integrated with on going programs
like NREGA to provide further employment opportunities to the agriculture
Dialogue with mainstream institutions
The current status
One of objectives of engaging in scaling up process
is to establish NPM on a sizeable scale to convince Agriculture Department and
University and Research Institutions that there needs to be a paradigm shift in
pest management which is today caught largely in pesticides and GM crops.
Twice discussions were held with the Krishi Vigyan
Kendras. During March 2006, after a day of field visit and two day discussions
the scientists were convinced and came forward to carry out research and
demonstrations on the NPM but the Director Extension, Acharya NG Ranga
Agriculture University and Scientists in Zonal Coordinating Unit, ICAR were
opposing saying there is no scientific evidence. Two NGO KVKs took the lead and
continued the work. During 2007 again a discussion was held with KVKs, with
Minister for Rural Development taking the lead. NGOs were not present in the
meeting and the discussions were led by the bureaucrats in Rural Development
Department. The KVKs agreed to work with the women SHGs on the seed production
but on NPM only the NGO KVKs continued to work.
During 2006-07, Central Research Institute for
Dryland Agriculture has carried out a study on NPM/Pesticide used Non Bt and Bt
cotton fields in Warangal and concluded that Non Bt cotton with NPM is more
profitable to the farmers and the yields are on par.
A study done by CSA on pesticide recommendations in
vegetables showed that majority of the pesticide recommendations by the
horticulture department are not registered with Central Insecticides Board which
is mandatory. Even some of the recommendations of Agriculture University were
- Agriculture university says the
concept is good but difficult to convince farmers and there is no disaster
- Director Research agreed to initiate
research on the botanical preparations used in NPM
- Departments and Institutions engaged
in technology generation and dissemination may not accept in near future as
their basic beliefs are questioned by the paradigm shift.
- Program is gradually owned by the
rural development department as livelihood security is their major priority than
The gap seems to be more of differences in personal
and institutional beliefs and interests rather than technology per se.
Constraints in moving forward
Large scale shifts in land use pattern
and increasing costs of land
- Natural Resources: a strong natural
resource base is needed for good ecological farming to succeed. We need to
focus on building up and managing natural resources
- Human Resources: Campaigns and
capacity building requires trained and committed persons which has become a
- Hostile nature of mainstream
agriculture systems still continues to the extent that they ask their staff not
to attend any meetings with farmers on NPM.
- Issues beyond control of farmers
Farmers loosing control over resources
like seed, water etc
- The last three years experience shows
that moving towards local resource based sustainable agriculture as the only way
to sustain the livelihoods of small and marginal farmers.
- Women self help groups form an
excellent institutional platform for scaling up such models.
- Political will is required for any
major shift in the paradigms of development
- Issues which need a confrontation to
resolve cannot be addressed by working from within or lobbying.