Briefly: Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Agriculture and Biotechnology at Aksa Village is involved in educating farmers about latest in agriculture
Ever since I began my farm having planted over 100 fruit and flowering trees in June last I do my best to meet people who are into farming or related to its allied fields to gather as much information I can. Sunday farmer needs to learn a lot. Aware of my interest in farming, the other day my friend, Ramesh informed me about a tissue culture centre in Malad .Well, I have been to tissue culture institutes in places like BARC in Chembur and The Horticulture Training Center in Talegaon.
Come Saturday morning I found myself at Malad station where I met Ramesh and took an auto rickshaw to reach Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Agriculture and Biotechnology at Aksa Village, Madh Road.
It was the genial and elderly Anantha Narayanan, the caretaker of the Institute who welcomed us and briefed us about the activities of Institute. It is one of its kind institutions where young farmers are trained on the principles of Educare, Meducare and Sociocare. During their month long stay at the Institute they are exposed to the modern and scientific methods of agriculture and biotechnology.
These young men are given training in nutraceuticals, post harvest technology, medicinal plants, herbal medicine, plant tissue culture, bio fertilizers, and water management thereby helping in increase their agricultural income. Farmers from Thane, Jalgaon, Nashik, Bhnadara-Gondhia, Wardha, Washim and Raigadh districts of Maharashtra have benefited from the Institute’s programmes. In fact, many farmers have gone back and adopted the new techniques and in the process become the change makers.
We were taken to the tissue culture lab and introduced to Vineel Bhurke, who has a MSc in horticulture. Vineel is a young man and every enthusiastic too. He has worked on tissue cultures of a few banana varieties namely,
Shreemanti, Velchi and Grand Naine. “Ours is not for commercial production but for informing young farmers who come here to train about the latest in agriculture,” said Vineel.
He went on to say that many farmers have tissue culture plants in places closer to Pune and planted them. The tissue culture plants have given yield and have been less susceptible to pests.
Later in the day Vineel took us to the Institute’s green houses which is used for hardening the tissue culture plants before they are planted on the fields and also houses medicinal plants.
The Institute has developed solar dryers which can be made for Rs 2000 (If you use recycle wood, glass, tray etc. one can get it done for far less). The temperature inside the dryer is 65 degrees C when outside it’s barely 32-35 degrees C. “These dryers can be made very easily and is excellent for making amla candy which fetches a price of Rs 200 per kg. Beside it can be put to use for drying medicine herbs and plants,” informed Vineel.
The Institute is doing a Herculean task growing plants for demonstration as it stands on a marshy land. The salinity in the soil is too high and salty breeze is not conducive for plants. But still people like Anantha Narayan are putting their best.
We ended the day with a sumptuous lunch with the Institute’s staff.