Since 2001, the organisation has been working on a research project funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to understand the principles of biopesticides, nutrient management, soil fertility and how these different components need to be packaged for organic farming. Subhashini Sridhar, Programme Director at CIKS, explains: “We tested these practices on farmers’ land. As a part of research dissemination, we offered farmers training programmes on organic farming.” By 2004, CIKS had demonstration farms with 40 farmers in 13 villages. The experiences gained there motivated farmers to pursue organic farming.

How the farmers’ association evolved

Many farmers were enthusiastic about switching to organic methods and turned to CIKS for support, who suggested that likeminded farmers could get together and form a group, and in 2005, the Sirkazhi Organic Farmers Association (SOFA) was registered. The organisation not only provides technical support for the farmer members on organic farming and organic certification, but also credit support through revolving funds (given by CIKS under various projects) and marketing support for organic produce.