Sudhindra Kulkarni, a farmer in the Gulbarga district of Karnataka state
Q: How long have you been farming?
This is our family trade. I have been farming since childhood. In my father’s times, we grew wheat, cotton, sorghum. We also kept bullocks. He practiced traditional farming methods and faced a lot of poverty. I stayed in the farming line when I grew up. My brother is an entomologist at the Dharwad University. I applied modern farming methods and was able to get good profits. I have 25 acres land. I grow Bt cotton then rotate with pigeon pea and chickpea. I also grow sorghum for cattle feed.
Q: How did you learn about modern farming methods?
I learnt from my interest in improvement. The government has agriculture programmes. I learned from watching programmes on TV. I levelled my land and got better yield. Now I use micronutrients for the soil and urea, potash, and DAP. But I use organic methods too. We spread cow dung on the fields for manure. I used to practice purely organic methods but I had to give that up. In the old days we never tilled the soil, now we do. But we are still completely dependent on the monsoon. Four or five months of the year we get canal water. The rest of the time we depend on the rains.
Q: How has your experience with Bt cotton been?
I have been growing Bt cotton for 10 years. It gives me excellent yield. I get one to two tons per acre. A farmer that I know is getting excellent yield with Bt cotton with purely organic methods. My cattle eat Bt cotton plants without any problem.
Q: What difficulties did you face while practicing organic methods?
Animal Manure & cow dung was not easily available, varmi compost, pest control not possible because environment did not help. After that, we did not get the yield we expected, cost of production, overheads, just did not match up. We were not getting any profit. I was unable to store my products at a high rate of interest. These were main challenges
Q: What is your message for my readers?
My message is this. I have a sincere request. Please think about the economic condition of the farmer. Without good yield a farmer is nothing. Without good yield, a farmer cannot survive. My family would be destroyed. Without good yield, we are zero. This is not just my story; it is the story of my whole village. I don’t know good English so I cannot explain myself that well.