| Elizabeth Jones (seated, right) and leading community activist James Godsil (standing) interact with women engaged in organic farming. Picture by Badrika Nath Das |
Cuttack, June 2: A two-member representative team of the US consulate general, Hyderabad, along with leading community activist James Godsil, visited a slum that practised urban agriculture and organic farming.
The team was satisfied with the involvement of women members of the Matamath Mallah Sahi slum. The dwellers are extensively relying on organic farming which has also made them self-sufficient.
“This is an amazing and innovating project which can help people both in India and US overcome various problems, including global warming and food security,” said acting public affairs officer of US consulate general Elizabeth Jones. She said organic farming was a medium to make use of available resources to produce healthy food. Moreover, such projects could also help exchange of ideas and scientific projects that were practical for future generations.
Godsil said this was the first step towards reawakening and healthy living as there was a great use of organic pesticides such as, cow dung, which also acts as fertilisers and vermicompost.
“Rampant industrialisation and other issues have spoiled our nest. Through such effective measures we can grow food in our neighbourhood which is free from pollution and harmful chemicals,” said Godsil.
Godsil, vice-president and co-founder of Sweet Water Organics, is one of the pioneers of urban agriculture and has inspired young and environmentally conscious people to use optimum local resources towards creating an earth-friendly environment.
Women members of the slums have developed “small kitchen gardens” in the available space with assistance from Utkal Seva Samaj, an NGO.
For the last one year, the members had been actively involved in carrying out organic farming by cultivating varieties of vegetables, including ladiesfinger, brinjal and green chillies.
Moreover, of the 81 families at the slum, 21 are always engaged in production of vegetables. “We are happy that by using natural resources, we are able to meet vegetable and other requirements on our own. We use vegetable scraps and other wastes that can be used as fertilisers. Last year, we had also sold our products in the market,” said Saraswati Biswal, a member of the slum.
“We started the project on organic farming at the slum one year ago. So far, we have received a positive response from the members. Similar project is also being replicated in 21 slums in the city and 24 villages under Tangi Choudwar,” said secretary of the Utkal Seva Samaj Amiya Bhusan Biswal.
Moreover, Godsil, who is also working on ‘aquaponic’ is also interested to replicate the model in Orissa.
“At a time when space is shrinking fast, urban agriculture can solve many problems apart from keeping the environment clean. Such kind of farming can also be done in abandoned places which can subsequently be converted into business models,” said Ranjan Panda, convenor of the Water Initiatives Orissa.