Live-in-Labs, an experiential learning program launched by the Amrita Center for International Programs (ACIP), recently had four students from the ISTOM College of International Agricultural Development, France for an internship in Pala; a village situated in the Kottayam district of Kerala. The duration of theinternship was two-weeks from July 14-27, 2014.
The visiting students spent a week with Amritakripa Self Help Group (SHG), an affiliate of AMMACHI Labs, Amritapuri campus, and learned about composting, vermicomposting, and organic gardening. They later went to Pala to share their knowledge about vermicomposting, emphasizing the role and use of micro-organisms in organic farming. The students helped local farmers to improve their composting practices and proposed aBanana Circle Permaculture design to help increase the amount of produce grown on a single piece of land. Here, a variety of crops can be nourished from a pit in the center of the circle where organic matter is decomposing, thus generating a greater supply of nutrition and moisture for growing crops.
The first year students at Ecole Superieure d’Agro-Developpment, ISTOM College of International Agricultural Development, France, Ms. Louise Bagein, Ms. Estelle Guillerm, Mr. Lukas Beuvry, and Mr. Simon Leprince Diffo, had a wonderful experience living and working in Pala. They especially enjoyed the local food culture, Kerala’s beautiful monsoon season with its lush natural beauty, and the hospitality of the villagers. “We decided to go in India in order to do an internship in AMMACHI Labs. We arrived in Amritapuri’s ashram the 13th of July. During this period we learned about compost and vermicompost. It was very interesting! We also tested out some permaculture techniques, such as the bokachi technique, which is a fertilizer. The daily life in the ashram was a very enriching experience and we met a lot a nice people! We also met Amma, it was amazing. Then, we left the ashram for Pala. We stayed in an ashram where a group of women took care of us. The days spentthere were a very great experience. We taught these women all the things we had learned when we were in Amritapuri, because they wanted to improve their compost and learn some farming techniques. The women were very happy! We really liked the time we spent in Pala, we ate very very well!”
Background of Amritakripa Self Help Group (SHG)
In tune with the guidelines set by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the Amritakripa Self Help Group (SHG) has taken up organic farming in order to meet the food consumption needs of rural communities by growing and cultivating healthy and nutritious fruits, vegetables, and other crops. Set on a virgin piece of land on the banks of the Meenachal River, SHG members have been cultivating, sans chemical fertilizers, various cash crops such as bananas and ginger, as well as vegetables such as ladies finger, brinjal, bitter gourd, yam, bulbs, and green chillies.
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