Jagarnath Prasad and Ajit Kumar, both marginal farmers, have reduced the cost of production and increased their income by using a concoction made from homemade curd in place of urea as fertiliser on their fields. Both have successfully increased their production of their Kharif and Rabi crops as well as vegetables, litchi and mango.

The two farmers have been using a carefully prepared mixture of curd with water in a mud pot with a copper spoon inserted into in for 10 to 15 days and then spray it on vegetables, litchi and mango in place of urea, other chemical fertilisers like DAP, potash and pesticides. They also mix it with vermicompost to spread on the fields that provide sufficient nitrogen, phosphorous and potash to their crops.

This grassroots innovation of using a dahi mixture is yet to be scientifically authenticated by agricultural and soil scientists. “I have come to know about use of dahi mixture in place of urea by farmers but have neither tested its sample in a lab nor can I give authentication till scientific result is available,” KK Singh, a soil scientist at Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Saraiya in Bihar, told VillageSquare.in.

Interesting innovation

Muzaffarpur district agriculture officer Krishna Kumar Verma said he has took look into the use of this mixture personally as it sounded interesting. “I have information that hundreds of farmers have been using it.”

Prasad and Ajit Kumar, residents of Machhahi village in Sakra administrative block in Muzaffarpur district, are relaxed and not worried of the cost of production in ongoing Kharif season. “We have replaced the use of urea with the dahi mixture. It is not only cost-effective but also promotes organic cultivation,” Prasad told VillageSquare.in.

Ajit added, “Our production of crops has increased and immunity and life of vegetables have been extended from 25 to 40 days.”

These are two of nearly 90,000 farmers who have been using the curd mixture in place of urea on their fields, mainly in Muzaffarpur and its neighbouring districts of Vaishali, Samastipur, Begusarai and Darbhanga in north Bihar.

Machhahi, like most of the villages in Muzaffarpur, is full of green cover. It has become the hub of this new and innovative experiment thanks to a progressive farmer Dinesh Kumar, who has been promoting its use, encouraging them to spray it and use it with vermicompost and providing training on how to prepare it. “All I am doing is to popularise it among farmers free of cost,” he told VillageSquare.in. “I started its use in 2011 with five or six farmers of my village. Now there are 60,000 to 65,000 farmers who are regularly using it in place of urea and pesticides and there are 25,000 to 30,000 farmers who are using it on one crop at least. It is a big success for me and for the growth of organic farming.”

According to Dinesh Kumar, who is head of Machhahi Sakra Sabzi Utpadak Krishak Hitkari Samuh, thousands of members of hundreds of Kisan Clubs and Kisan Samuhs spread in villages in Muzaffarpur and other districts have been using the mixture in their fields. Happy over increasing popularity of his dahi mixture experiment among thousands of farmers, Dinesh Kumar is planning to give a brand name to it. “In addition to 90,000 farmers using it, we are in contact with around 1 lakh farmers and holding regular meetings with them.”

Scientific indifference

Dinesh Kumar told Villagesquare.in that so far scientists at Indian Council of Agricultural Research in New Delhi and Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa, in Samastipur, Bihar, have shown interest for a scientific lab test of the impact of the mixture as a crop spray. “A team of agriculture scientists should conduct a study followed by a lab test to provide scientific base for its use,” he said. “Once it gets scientific legitimacy, its popularity will grow and it may reduce use of urea to an extent.”

Some women farmers are also happy after they began using the curd mixture. “We have got excellent results from using the mixture,” said Kiran Devi.

Dinesh Kumar said crops get nitrogen and phosphorous for nearly 40 days after they are sprayed with the mixture. Only 2 kg of the mixture is required to replace 25 kg of urea. “In comparison to urea or chemical spray, spray of curd mixture is cheap and proving more result-oriented for us without any side effects,” said Dinesh. “For a chemical spray in one acre of crops, we have to spend Rs 1,100 but only 2.5 kg of milk is needed to prepare the curd at home.”

Ease of use

The curd mixture is easy to prepare. After the curd is ready, a copper or bronze spoon is inserted into the pot containing it for 10 to 15 days. The color of the curd changes from white to green. This is locally known as tutia, which is then mixed with water and sprayed. Interestingly, after water is added in the curd, the butter that comes of it is being used as pesticides. “We mixed vermicompost in that butter and used it on roots and stem and plants,” Dinesh Kumar told VillageSquare.in.

Dinesh Kumar said about 150 big farmers in Delhi’s Burari Road, Nathupuram, Ibrahimpur, Uttamnagar, Nangloi, Gurgaon, Nazafgarh and Rohini have been using the mixture in their fields after being trained by him. “Unlike marginal farmers, farm houses near Delhi are owned by either
big and rich farmers, industrialists and politicians, who are using the mixture in place of chemical fertilizers for organic farming,” he claimed.

This article first appeared on Village Square.