As I write about a small village called Kedia in the Jamui district of Bihar, and some of its very significant achievements, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to say how much has changed since I first visited the village. As I remember Kedia from three years ago, the fields lacked the green that my eyes longed for, and they were dying from the addition of chemical pesticides and fertilisers.The yield was not of good quality and the income generated was low. At a time when the villagers lost all hope and often participated in conflicts, the ecological revolution was introduced.

Landscape of Kedia village

Scenic landscape of Kedia village

The “Bihar Living Soils” campaign was an attempt to reduce dependence on agrochemicals such as chemical fertilisers and chemical pesticides, and bring the soil back to life by rejuvenating soil health and biodiversity, using biomass-based organic supplements.

The period of the shift from chemical-laden farming to ecological agriculture was not easy, but Kedia’s farmers persevered.

Today, apart from enjoying the benefits of reduced input costs on farming by almost 60%, watching the beetles and the kingfishers make a comeback, becoming self-sufficient and eliminating middlemen, the Kedia farmers are fully trained to help in the capacity-building of other farmers who have chosen to take the chemical-free route.

Kedia – a resource and learning centre for ecological agriculture

Kedia is attracting and influencing researchers, practitioners and policy makers alike. The state’s top agriculture department officials, including Bihar’s Agriculture Minister, have visited the village and acknowledged the developments and have called for Kedia to be a resource and learning centre for ecological agriculture. The department is now organising visits for organic farmers from other parts of the state to Kedia for demonstration and peer learning. Around five hundred farmers from nearby districts have already visited Kedia for on-site trainings.

Ecologically grown tomatoes

Ecologically grown tomatoes in Kedia

Ecologically grown 20 kilo bottle gourd in Kedia
An  ecologically grown 20 kilogram bottle gourd in Kedia

Kedia inspires other villages to take the ecological path

The Dumarkola farmers have already started making and using ecological fertilisers and plant-protection measures. They have produced several vegetable varieties and mushrooms with the active support of the agriculture extension staff. These farmers are determined to adopt the Kedia Model. Recently, over fifty farmers have submitted their applications for the construction of vermi-composting units.  

Kedia has become a role model not only for moving away from chemical fertilisers and pesticides, but also for its water conservation and management practices too.

Farmers prepare amritpani in a training camp
Farmers prepare Amrit Pani (a concoction of cattle dung, cattle urine, jaggery, neem leaf, calotropis leaf, pulse powder and soil) in a training camp.

Here’s the latest from Bihar

The District Magistrate of Jamui District has recently announced that the Jamui administration is going to implement the Kedia model in one village in each of the ten blocks of the district. 

Seeing the success of the Kedia model, and with the intention of increasing farmers’ income and climate resilience, the state government has announced the replication of such organic farming models in all the districts of Bihar and developing organic farming corridors along the state and national highways under its 3rd Agriculture Roadmap.

Kedia farmers gather around for a discussion

Kedia’s farmers gather around for a discussion

It gives a great sense of satisfaction to see a low-profile Greenpeace intervention become a farmers’ movement to the extent that the government has responded with policy commitments in the region. It is also heartening to see farmers committing to ecological farming even though it may mean risking their only source of livelihood, to provide us with safer and healthier food. 

Ishteyaque Ahmed is a Senior Food for Life Campaigner at Greenpeace India