It was only after members of GREEN approached him that Jayappa heard of the advantages of organic farming. His first reaction was to dismiss everything he was told about sustainable agriculture;
it seemed impossible that what they were saying could be true. “I often treated them with contempt,” says Jayappa. This type of attitude is common among many farmers that GREEN approaches. They are initially reluctant to try the practices we recommend because of preconceived notions that they will not receive good yields. Many of these practices stem from the rich indigenous knowledge present in Indian agriculture. Preserved through centuries in oral tradition they provide an effective alternative to chemical farming. Sadly, we have found that farmers have lost a sense of pride in their own culture. Overcoming this barrier in the mentality of the farmer has been one of GREEN’s bigger challenges. It took persistence on the part of GREEN members before Jayappa was persuaded to take a different approach to farming. “After several visits, I decided to give it a try as I had nothing to lose, and besides, I knew they would not give up approaching me,” he says. Once convinced, Jayappa’s journey to sustainable agriculture, like that of GREEN’s, began with the seed. “I first began by donating some of the pumpkin seeds I had with me,” he says. Through further interactions with GREEN he acquired different seed types and began to grow crops differently. Slowly, his interest increased. He started using only indigenous seeds and slowly gave up the use of chemical fertilizers. “I saw that the seeds were responding well, and my yields were almost as good as when I was pursuing inorganic agriculture,” he says. Through GREEN’s facilitation, he started to adopt more and more practices and soon, he says, his cash requirements came to nil. “Seeds, compost, fertilizers and pesticides are available within my own farm. I do not have to buy anything,” he says. His backyard, which was lying fallow, he developed into a kitchen garden, planting fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs. Through continuous trial and error, he has even been able to set up a nursery of silver oaks. “Food security for my family is already a reality,” he says. Today, Jayappa is a resource person for GREEN, traveling regularly to lend his expertise on organic farming to farmers eager to adopt organic farming methods. And he would not have it any other way. “It is my dream [to see] all farmers in my area give up chemical farming and [I] will do everything to make that possible,” he says.