Radheshyam is a father of three sons and a grandfather of many grandchildren. He joined the POC program in 2008, completed the transition period, and his cotton field is now certified organic. Radheshyam says by joining the POC program he has been saving approximately 50K rupees every year, equivalent to 12 months of living expense. This is because he no longer needs to purchase expensive fertilizers and new seeds every year. (Unlike organic cotton seeds, GMO seeds do not produce viable new seeds and new seeds need to be purchased each year).
50K rupees is enough cost reduction to offset the revenue decrease of 11K rupees due to discontinuation of the use of chemical fertilizers, resulting in net profit of 39K rupees annually. With the increased income, after two years, Radheshyam was able to renovate his home with a roof so now his family has privacy. He happily told us that he is free from debt and interest payment and that next he plans to dig a well with the saved income.
Moreover, Radheshyam says the benefits of joining POC is not just about improved income - "I feel that the continuous use of chemical insecticides and pesticides had damaged our farming soil. It makes a big difference that now we do not need to use them."
Gopal joined the POC program in 2009. He says the greatest benefit from joining POC is the reduced loans he previously had relied on to purchase pesticides and insecticides.
His loan balance decreased from 35K rupees to 20K rupees in a year and he hopes that once he starts making his own organic fertilizers he would be able to pay off all his loans. He also says he feels more comfortable to do field work because he no longer needs to use chemical fertilizers which can cause skin disease and health damage.
"The reason I decided to transition to organic farming is not only because of my own health issues but also because I am concerned about chemicals flowing into wells and plants, which cows eat, and eventually turns into milk for our children to drink. I am happy that I do not have to worry about the consequences of chemical use anymore. Moreover I feel that the soil has become more fresh and nutritious after changing to organic farming." Despite statistics indicating that converting to organic cotton decreases yield, Shivram tells us that the yield for his farm land has improved.
“In the beginning farmers were sceptic about the POC program. A lot of them did not understand why organic farming is beneficial for them and many were afraid of the expected yield decrease without the use of chemical fertilizers. However after the first year, farmers that were reluctant to participate in the POC program started to notice that the income of neighboring POC farmers improved significantly. They also heard from neighbors positive stories on how they no longer needed loans and the improvement of soil quality. As a result, an increasing number of farmers now want to participate in the POC program, and we have more than 4,000 farmers on the wait list."