High yields in Andhra's pesticide free village
Having to write a happy story makes me uneasy. Ten journalistic years of persistently sifting for what's wrong in every event/statement has taken its toll. Cynicism, an assortment of palliatives, and antacids are canonical accessories of roving reporters. The need to be certain of the facts often makes one doubt even that which resembles the truth to a reasonable degree of verifiability. Nothing aggravates this unease like not knowing the language of interviewees, and having to rely on unpracticed translators with an interest in the representation.
Should I go with an independent translator, I asked a friend familiar with the epistemological angst of hacks. "No. I know the man. Just go with him to the village,' he advised. I was setting off for Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh, chasing a story I had stumbled upon five months ago in a newsletter of the state's agriculture department. A pesticide-free village, said the headline.It described how a village gave up pesticides and increased yields, all this at the instance of Vijaya Kumar, their mandal agriculture officer. Incredulous, I read the whole thing over and over. Governments across India swear by chemical pesticides and actually peddle them. How was a government newsletter celebrating an officer who had done just the opposite? And yet, there it was, in sans serif type on glossy yellow paper.
So, I went to Vizag. Vijaya Kumar came across as a man one could trust. I'd made arrangements for some