About Organic Farming
Kerala Gandhi Smarak Nidhi (Kerala Gandhi Memorial Fund - KGSN) is the Keralan state branch of a national organisation started in 1948 to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi's life and work. Since then, KGSN has been promoting Gandhian values throughout Kerala, the overall aim being to take the life of each village a little closer to the ideal that Gandhi envisaged.
Over the years, KGSN has run a wide variety of programmes, including promoting village industries (especially khadi handspun cotton cloth), communal harmony and improving health and hygiene.
Healthy Lifestyle and Organic Farming Programme
To promote healthy lifestyles, against a background of increasing concern about pesticide contamination of fruit and vegetables bought in local markets and roadsides, KGSN is working to reviving organic farming practices.
Most houses in Kerala are surrounded by a small plot of land with a few coconut trees. This simple programme aims to show how other crops, such as vegetables, fruit trees and spices can be grown organically in between the coconuts. Mr Appu, KGSN’s project field worker and the four voluntary Farmers’ Leaders also show families how to grow vegetables in fertilizer bags on their flat roofs and patios to make use of all their available space.
To encourage more families to join the project KGSN holds regular training sessions in the villages. Those who are keen to take up the model are given seeds to get them started and Appu visits their plot to offer advice on the most suitable crops. The families are then supported by their local Farmers’ Leader and are invited to regular village level meetings where they can provide mutual support and farming advice.
How AVI supports KGSN
AVI began funding the organic farming programme in 1995 by supporting 150 families in two villages. In the last few years the programme has expanded rapidly and now covers over 2,000 families in six villages just south of the state capital, Trivandrum. Two thirds of the organic farming society members are women and two thirds have less than one-third of an acre of land.
This new phase will concentrate primarily on identifying and supporting the poorest families who are often hardest to reach, dalits and woman-headed households facing incredible hardship. Volunteers (four ‘Farmers Leaders’) have a target to enrol and support at least 400 new people whose incomes are rated below the poverty line. This will translate in a further 2,500 more families engaged with the organic farming project in its new phase.
A short report on the first few months of the new project can be found here (
Progress this year update
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