Sireesha Tullimilli is one of thousands of smallholder farmers practicing agroecology in Andhra Pradesh, a South-East Indian state. Agroecology is a type of farming that applies ecological concepts with the goal of mitigating climate change and protecting wildlife and communities alike. In fact, Sireesha spreads awareness on nutrition and sustainable farming techniques that eliminate chemical use, protect soil and boost farmer incomes.
As a trainer in a Farmer Field School (FFS) program organized by FAO and the local Government of Andhra Pradesh, Sireesha encourages her fellow farmers to adopt natural farming by showing them the positive results. The program fosters a practical, horizontal, and inclusive approach to sustainable farming techniques, tailored to suit farmers’ individual needs in improving soil quality.
“In FFS, we learnt that if we practice intercropping with agroecological farming instead of mono-cropping we can get additional income. Secondly, the costs of cultivation have decreased to a great extent.’’
The state government has launched the Andhra Pradesh Community-managed Natural Farming (APCNF) programme with the technical support of FAO, to support agro ecological farming techniques. APCNF encourages chemical-free farming by promoting locally made botanical pesticides and innovative cultivation methods that naturally prevent pests and diseases outbreaks.
“Through the agroecological approach of natural farming, my family and I have reduced our costs, increased our income and can lease more land for cultivation. We have also improved our health and are now able to send our children to better schools.’’
Sireesha has since opened a small shop where she sells naturally produced vegetables. This has boosted her income while helping her fellow villagers to consume healthy foods.
‘’After taking up natural farming and consuming healthy products from my farm, I am now healthy and happy. We have cleared our entire loan. Natural farming improved our lives.’’
This food hero is doing her bit by improving both her life and the wellbeing of those in her community.