Community Food Farm - New West Secondary School

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Community Food Farm

About Us

Mr Inba Naidoo, Project Manager of the Community Food Farm @ NWSS and a teacher at the school, went on a study tour of organic farms in India in April 2012. He reports on his very fruitful tour.

Kuppam is one of the 294 legislative assembly constituencies in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the largest province in Southern India, bordering Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states. It is located in between the two mega cities of India, Chennai and Bangalore on the National Highway No.219 and well connected to all cities of India through railway line. Kuppam area has 121,000 hectares of geographical area out of which 40,000 hectares are under forest cover. The 2, 60,000 population of Kuppam area (50,000 families) is widely distributed among 700 habitations. For local administration, this area has been divided into 4 parts (Mandals) –
1. Kuppam
2. Gudipalli
3. Santhipuram
4. Ramakuppam
and further subdivided into 89 gram Panchayats (cluster of villages).
This area has known history of one millennium and was under feudal rule (Zamindari) until independence. This area has excellent natural resources:

• 70,000 hectares of arable land with fertile soils and balanced soil nutrients with very good drainage system suitable for growing variety of crops.

• 75 Kilometres of Palar river flow with 40 water storage structures
• 700 small irrigation tanks which can store the rainwater for better usage.
• Thousands of percolation tanks, check-dams, and other rainwater harvesting structures.
• Very good groundwater potential

• 40,000 hectares of forest with excellent flora and founa. Different species of valuable plants, wildlife (100 elephants, spotted deer, wild foxes, cheetahs etc.)

• Gold Mines: Mineral excavated and transported to Bharat Gold Mines Ltd. for processing
• Granite: Quality granite stone dimensional blocks are cut from the local quarries and exported world over. These blocks are cut into slabs and polished and used in construction and decoration of buildings.

• The locally available stones are cut into different sizes and made as Kabul stones, Kerbs, plates, sitting benches and also used in construction of temples and buildings.

• The Average annual rainfall of this area is 800mm and the rainy season is from May to November.

• The altitude of this area is 700m MSL and the temperatures vary from 10C to 35C with low humidity. This climate is very conducive to grow all types of crops, vegetables, flowers, silk and animal husbandry.

• People are mild, docile and hardworking. Very sharp in acquiring skills. The work force of this area have tremendous skills in stone crafting, cutting and polishing, toys making, masonry, construction, forest produce collection, and good artisans and also artists having excellent cultural talents in music, dance and drama.  
In spite of having excellent natural resources and great human potential, this area remained backward for centuries. Sri N. Chandra Babu Naidu, the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, who has been elected as member of Legislative Assembly from Kuppam constituency since 1989, has initiated a systematic plan for over all development of this area with peoples’ participation.

For promoting integrated participatory development, an organization has been established i.e. Kuppam Area Development Authority (KADA) with a training centre near Santhipuram.

I. Human Resource Development
The different sections of people of Kuppam have been organized into functional groups for capacity building, leadership promotion and effective participation in the process of development:
a) Community Organization
• Women     Grama Lakshmi Groups
• Youth     Empowerment of Youth for
Entrepreneur Development
• Farmers    Water users Association and
Watershed Development
• Forest Dwellers  Vana Samrakshna Samithi
(Joint Forest Management)
• Parents    School Education Committees
• Mothers    Integrated Child Development
b) Leadership Development
For Developing character, capacity, commitment and caliber and for effective participation in the process of development, series of training programmes and exposure visits have been organized to elected representatives, leaders of peoples’ organizations and the government officials such as visit to Ralegaousidhi and interaction with Sri Annasaheb Hazareji.
c) Education Development
Almost every major habitation is covered with primary schools and sufficient number of High Schools were established. For promoting higher education almost all colleges (Engineering, Medical, Polytechnic) and also one University (Dravidian University) have been established. Over two decades, the literacy rate has increased to 60% from 40% in Kuppam Area and considered as an educational hub.
d) Health
The local population since centuries are accustomed to primitive and superstitious health practices and exposed to all types of infections and diseases. Through organization of mass health camps and awareness and orientation camps, the peoples attitude in health care has been changed and the access to primary health centers have been improved. A 100 bed Government Hospital, 750 bed Medical College Hospital and Government Rural Health Centers have been established.

II. Natural Resource Development

a) Watershed Development
With an objective to protect every inch of land save every drop of water and to utilize every minute of human 100 Micro watershed projects (each consisting about 500 acres have been developed, taking activities such as soil conservation, water harvesting and plantation. (Protect the soil, save the water and green the earth)
b) Vana Samrakshana Samithi
About 500 hectares of forest area under each unit of VSS has been allotted to one group of people in the villages bordering the forest. Soil and water conservation and plantation activity promoted.
c) Water Conservation
• 32 Check-dams were constructed across river Palar
• 400 irrigation tanks have been restored and converted as pereolation tanks through motivation of command area farmers to voluntarily closing down the sluices
• Development of chain of tanks etc.

III. Infrastructure Development

• Safe drinking water provided to almost all habitations (700 protected water supply schemes)
• Electrification of all villages
• Approach roads to all villages
• Providing public transport facility to all habitations
• Primary health and education facilities
• Cell phone (starting with Air Tel), Telephone exchange in major villages, STD and Internet connections.
• Development of State Highways and National Highway 219
• Massive Housing Programme (with government subsidy to weaker sections)
• Development of Tourism
- Andhra Pradesh Tourism Resort at Kuppam (Punnami Hotel)
- Development of ECCO-Tourism (Koundinya Elephant Project)
- Development of Heritage Tourism – Kangundi Fort
- Development of many temples.
• Modernization of Kuppam Town (HUDCo Project)
• Railways
- Introduction of Kuppam-Bangalore-Kuppam Push Pull Train
- Modernization of Railway Station

IV. Economic Development

The various activities promoted so far, are ultimately aimed at for overall economic development of Kuppam area and improvement of quality of life of people. The present economic status of Kuppam area can be classified under three categories:
A) Primary Sector
i) Agriculture: Shift from traditional rain fed agriculture (where in farmers used to grow low value long term single crops) to modern agriculture with Israeli Technology, Integrated Agricultural Project was commissioned in the year 1997 to adopt and implement Israeli and American Agricultural Technology. Micro Irrigation system (drips and sprinkles) efficient use of water fertilizers and grow commercial crops to fetch more money to the poor farmers by growing short term high value expert oriented multiple crops. About 10,000 hectares are under intensive agriculture.
ii) Horticulture: For income and round the year production, the farmers of Kuppam have taken up many varieties of horticultural crops under micro irrigation (drip system) under green house
Name of the Crop Crop duration in months Approximate net income per acre (in Rupees) Total extent in Kuppam area (in Acres)
Papaya (Red lady-Taiwan)  50 5,00,000 852
Banana 12 (Ratoon possible) 1,00,000 2,046
Mango  Perennial 20,000 (per year) 8,010
Coconut Perennial 30,000 (per year) 4,210
Tomato 5 1,00,000 2,850
Potato 4 75,000 1,850
Beans 4 60,000 1,400
Brinjal 6 75,000 696
Chillies 6 75,000 1,086
Capsicum 6 1,00,000 150
Cabbage 3 60,000 420
Watermelon 3 50,000 180
Sweet Corn 3 1,00,000 125
Baby Corn 3 50,000 106
Gerkin 4 1,00,000 740
Apart from the above major crops other vegetables such as Cucumber, Angle gourd, Bitter gourd, Snake gourd, Squash, Pumpkin, Cauliflower, Beet-root, Carrot, Knol-Kool, Radish, Variety of leafy Vegetables are grown round the year.
In recent years the farmers of Kuppam are shifting to Green House farming taking advantage of the local geographical and climatic and market conditions.
iii) Floriculture: Kuppam is traditionally favourable for flower cultivation and Kuppam town is an important flower market. The farmers grow the following varieties of flowers in Kuppam area
• Crysanthumum
• Mary gold (different varieties)
• Variety of Jasmin flowers
• Roses
• Lilies
• Gladiolus
• Kanakambaram
iv) Sericulture: Sericulture is a perennial farm activity wherein farmers produce silk cocoons by rearing silk worms which are fed with mulberry leaves. About 10,000 acres of land is under mulberry gardens. Kuppam area has special advantages such as cool climate, moderate humidity and suitable soil conditions and also access to silk markets. Silk industry provides employment to the whole family, assured annual income with minimum market risk. The farm residue is very useful as fodder (supports dairy industry) and manure. Kuppam farmers have achieved world standards in silk production.
v)  Dairy: At present, dairy industry is contributing major share in the income and employment generation. Milk production in two decades has grown from 5,000 liters to 2,00,000 liters i.e. 40 times in Kuppam area. At present farmers of Kuppam area earn about 100 crores of rupees annually from dairy industry. Approximately about 80,000 milch animals Holestin Fregian (H.F) and
Jercy-Cross Breeds and local breed cows and buffalos are available in this area. This industry provides highest employment to rural women.
Kuppam is located in the centre of highest milk producing region of southern India – Kolar district of Karnataka, Dharmapuri and Vellore districts of Tamil Nadu and chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.
vi) Poultry: Another Flourishing industry in Kuppam area is poultry. These are more than 10 poultry Breeding Farmers with more than 5,00,000 birds and widespread Broiler Chicken rearing farms all over Kuppam area which has proved successful.
vii) Sheep Farming: Traditional Sheep farming in small scale by individual farmers is highly successful. The free availability of fodder in forest and wastelands is taken advantage. Now farmers are shifting to controlled grazing and even zero grazing sheep farms, introducing Cross Breed Sheep species such as Rambulet, Nellore Brown, Judipi, Bennur etc.

B) Secondary Sector
Kuppam has great potential for industrial development. Its location – proximity to mega cities (Bangalore – 120 km., Chennai 250 km, Tirupati 200 km. all international airports) major railway line (electrified double track broad guage) connecting almost all cities of India; National Highway; ground water; climate; availability of raw materials; electricity (supplied through local farmers’ cooperative society); tele-communications; availability of lands and skilled labours and free from natural calamities and other local disturbances etc., are highly favourable for promoting industrial development.
An industrial park in 300 acres of land has been developed in Kuppam and number of industries have come up in Kuppam area such as:
Textile industry   - 1
Steel industries   - 2
Granite Processing  - 10
Milk chilling centre - 16
Food processing   - 3
Silk Industry  - 1
Sandal Oil Industry  - 3
Cattle Feed  - 1
Aluminium   - 1
C) Tertiary Sector
In recent years there is major occupational shift from primary sector to tertiary sector, which is an indicator for economic growth of the area. Technical education, skills development trainings, local traditional skills etc., contribute for major employment potential in tertiary sector. About 5,000 people travel every day to serve in Bangalore city in different jobs.
In conclusion, it is very clear, the initiative of Sri N. Chandra Babu Naidu, Former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh has yielded excellent results and the face of Kuppam in all fields has changed. The fast track development envisaged in Kuppam area has to be continued in the same spirit to achieve excellent results.

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