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June 2019 – Recycling resources on agroecological farms

Agroecological practices support biological processes that drive the recycling of nutrients, biomass and water within production systems. By closing cycles, recycling leads to several benefits – increased resource-use efficiency, reduced dependency on external sources, minimizing waste and pollution. Recycling and reuse of resources also means increasing the autonomy of producers and reducing their vulnerability to market and climate shocks.

Recycling can take place at both farm-scale and within landscapes. Integrated farming  systems facilitates recycling, where output from one system serves as in input in another production system. For example, integrated crop–livestock systems promote recycling of organic materials by using manure for composting and crop residues and by-products as livestock feed. Similarly, in rice–fish systems, aquatic organisms help to fertilize the rice crop and reduce pests, reducing the need for external fertilizer or pesticide inputs. Vermicomposting is another example where organic wastes are converted to well decomposed worm casts, which can be used as manure for crops. Vermiwash can be used as sprays as well. It has been estimated that organic resources available in the country alone can produce not less than 20 million tonnes of plant nutrients (NPK). However, sometimes the recycled product may not be suitable for agricultural use due to quality concerns. The survival of infectious microorganisms, long-term accumulation of potential toxic elements in soil and potential odour emissions, are some of the important challenges to agricultural recycling. However, these can also be managed and addressed by sound understanding of the source, treatment for better quality control.

Resource poor farmers are known to be adopting recycling practices. Infact recycling resources has been their survival strategy. There are a number of innovative practices being adopted by small farmers. In this issue we would like to include experiences of such farmers in building sustainable agriculture. Why do few farmers recycle and what is their motivation to do it? What are the challenges and opportunities in recycling farm resources? What is the role of women in the entire process? Is there any policy support or incentives to adopt recycling measures?

We invite articles on this theme for the June 2019 issue of LEISA India. Kindly send your experiences to the Editor at leisaindia@yahoo.co.in before 6th May 2019.