We, the members of field audit team of Sundarini Naturals continued to explore organic cooperative farmers of Patharpratima block in Sundarban islands. After night hault we visited another Organic Fighter - Mayarani Das from Digambarpur village. We along with few Management Committee Members of the society accompanied Mayarani when she was going back to her home after pouring milk at her Dairy Cooperative Society. Her husband and two sons welcomed us very gladly.
We were attracted to her well-managed small farm having desi cows, desi poultry, fruits & vegetables, small pond with fish cum duckery, Azolla pit, green fodder field. When her husband was busy to cut tender coconut to serve us she took us to her nearby paddy field.
I asked about her experience with organic farming and cooperatives. She also described almost same situation after devastating Ayla, the super cyclone in 2009 when her whole family was shattered. Saline water entered into her paddy field. It took long to revive but from 2017 she got regular income directly to her bank account in every 10 days by selling milk, rice, dal to Sundarini at her Coop Society. According to Mayarani this was just like an employee of any organization and getting salary uninterruptedly in every month.
"For last one year our society has fully computerized Automatic Milk Collection Unit where each and every milk sample is tested and paid according to quality. But the milk should be organically produced"- she added.
"Why are you interested in producing organic milk, organic grains?" I asked.
She asked in turn, "Why not Organic? Do you want to see your near and dear ones suffering from deadly diseases?" She again started explaining in her own way, "First of all we live in Sundarban, and this is our motherland. If we damage our soil and environment by using chemicals, motherland will also take revenge. Secondly, we or our consumers should never suffer from any disease due to these chemicals or bad substances from food. Milk is a sacred food. We never do any bad with our milk." I just looked at her and was thinking miles away from our city how these farmers understood the basic things in so simple way and how they think of their motherland.
"How do you maintain your cows? What is your management to keep them free from Antibiotics, Chemicals, Adulterants?"
Mayarani said, "We need not to do much for our desi cows. These cows are native to our Sundarban islands. They don't need much feed, they don't suffer much from diseases. Their milk production is less like 2-3 Lt. per day but after using the milk at home for my children I sell the excess to Cooperative.
I have my own fodder farm which I maintain throughout the year by cultivating seasonal varieties like Maize, Sorghum, Cow Pea, Moringa, Napier. I get fodder seeds from our Society. I also have Azolla Pit. I feed them Mustard Cake prepared from my Mustard seeds, Moong Dal Husk (Dal Chuni).
Doctors from Sundarini have taught us about Herbal Medicine. We have a small Herbal Garden at our society which is very helpful in many cases for my ailing cows. In serious cases when Doctors treat our cows with medicine either we don't milk the cow or don't use it that time at home or sell to Society.
Actually we all have taken Oath not to pour milk to Society when our animals are sick or under treatment.
And adulteration!! From my childhood I have never been taught to do bad with milk. You know, our computer machine at Society detects even small quantity of added water. Everyday our Society Secretary tests milk for adulterants."
"How do you control Pest, Diseases in Paddy or Dal fields?"
Mayarani informed, "What our Jaibo Monitor has trained us that any seasonal and native variety of rice or dal has power to fight against diseases. That's why we only cultivate local varieties of rice like Dudheswar, Gobindghog, Radhatilak, native dal like Sona Moong.
But another thing is also important to keep the soil healthy. Earthworm should be in the soil, birds, butterflies, beneficial insects should visit my fields. We use Azolla in our paddy field to decompose and provide nutrition to soil.
We use 'Neemastra', prepared Neem leaves, Cow Urine for pest control. We use 'Jhaupatar Nirjas' (Casurina Leaf Extract) for fungus control, 'Jibamrit', prepared from Mustard Cake, Gram Flour, Molasses, Cow Dung, Cow Urine. Last year we have prepared BD 500 in cow horn after getting training from Gujarat and still we are using it. It is very good for soil health.
If we want to avoid chemicals from our field, there are ways. Our Sundarini has shown so many ways. We have faith on our efforts"- concluded confident Mayarani Das.
Really, I am impressed with her confidence, dedication towards organic farming. I wish, one day not only Sundarini Coop members but also each and every farmers of Sundarban would understand the goodness of organic milk production and agriculture.