HYDERABAD: A unique anthropological study conducted by agricultural universities to learn about the farming culture and practices of peasant farmers in Telangana, has thrown light on how indigenous practices can be incorporated into modern day farming. The study, called ‘Interfacing Farmers’ Science with Formal Science’ was conducted by agro-scientists Dr Uma Reddy, associate director of research at Regional Agricultural Search Station and Dr Suresh Reddy, associate professor at CESS, in collaboration with the Deccan Development Society (DDS). Held across 10 villages of Sangareddy, for a period of one year, the study attempts to capture the farming practices in terrains specific to Telangana.
The main findings of the study pertain to different aspects of farming, right from ploughing to selection of crops to sowing before a season and till the storage of grains at the end of a season. For instance, one successful outcome was that of using wooden plough and ploughing based on the kind of crop grown. “In soils where niger, rabi jowar and chickpeas are grown, ploughing is not mandatory,” finds the study. These crops are highly suitable for the dry conditions prevalent in Telangana.
The study also has a unique take on selection of a crop which, it says, must be specific not only to the soil, but also to the season. “If the season is delayed even by one or two days, the grain sown can respond differently. So we have different variants and different grains for cases when the rains come in advance or are delayed,” noted Chandramma, a septuagenarian, who owns three acres of land where she is presently cultivating pearl millet, horse gram etc due to the late onset of monsoon this year.
Meanwhile, policy researchers note that with the availability of this empirical data, more studies must be conducted on how all farmers may be incentivised to use such traditional knowledge. “We need schemes like Rythu Bandhu to incentivise organic farming which does not make use of chemicals,” opined PV Satheesh, director of DDS. Furthering the idea, B Suresh Reddy, of CESS noted, “After the year-long research, it is evident that multi-cropping which was traditionally practised in the country is much better for the farmers.”