a magazine on ecological agriculture
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Some field initiatives

Go organic to conserve water

Lingubai, the driving force
Lingubai, the driving force

Lingubai, a 52 year old tribal woman farmer in Samaguda village, motivated by the water conservation methods adopted by her ancestors had cultivated the habit of saving water, first at her household level. She also assimilated the scientific concepts from field staff of Chetna Organic Farmers Association (COFA) which was promoting organic farming practices among farming communities in the village and started applying them in her field. She replaced application of chemicals with bio-fertilizers. She started using organic manures like vermi -compost, sheep manure, farmyard manure etc. She started growing green manures for enhancing soil moisture. She also practiced mixed cropping and used mulching to conserve soil moisture. Eventually, she could grow more from the same land with less water. Today, Lingubai, a 52 year old tribal woman farmer is a celebrity in her village, Samaguda.

She slowly started talking to all the women in her village. Seeing her success, farmers in her community began appreciating the importance of using rain water judiciously in agriculture. Gradually, they became a collective which reached zenith of activity by the year 2004. The current situation in the village is contrary to what it used to be earlier.

Five years ago Samaguda village in Sirpur mandal of Adilabad district was into conventional farming with low yields, completely dependent on rainfall alone. Today, the entire village practices organic farming with good yields and low external inputs. The yield per acre went up increasing their income and reducing their dependency on external inputs. Above all, the usage of water conservation practices also boosted their economic status.

For more details contact:
M. Ashok Kumar
Agronomist, FFID, Chetna OCP.
E-mail: ashokmahavadi@yahoo.com


Khatri: An Indigenous Technology of Rainwater Harvesting

Khatri - water harvesting
Khatri – water harvesting

People of Hamirpur, Bilaspur and Kangra districts in Himachal Pradesh have developed a unique indigenous technology for water harvesting called ‘Khatri’. Khatris are hand -hewn caves located beneath the huge rocks where water is collected through seepage from rocks. The basic purpose of khatri is not to harvest the surface run off but the rainwater that flows through the rocks and soils of hilly regions. In the rainy season, water drops down continuously from the roof of the khatri which amounts to approximately 40-50 buckets per day.

Khatris are owned by individuals as well as by a community. Each house has its own khatri and as the family expands, each unit constructs its own khatri. In other words, we can say that in a village, number of khatris is generally equivalent to the number of families. The community khatris are secular structures which are maintained and used by all community people.

In earlier times, villagers were totally dependent on the khatris for their daily water needs. But today when facilities like hand pumps and taps are available at the doorstep, people still prefer to use khatri as the availability of piped water is quite unpredictable. Also during monsoons, these water pipelines brake down causing water shortages. Thus, Khatris continue to be a reliable source of water for many in this region. This rainwater harvesting structure is a testimony of the traditional knowledge of people to cope up with water scarce conditions.

For more details, contact:
Promila Kanwar and Neetu Sharma
Department of Home Science Extension education,
College of Home Science,
CSK Himachal Pradesh Krishi Vishva Vidyalaya,
Palampur-176062, Himachal Pradesh, India.
E-mail: kanwar.promila@gmail.com


Diversion Based Irrigation (DBI)
Channels for better water management

Diversion channel
Diversion channel

Diversion channel based irrigation is a traditional system of diverting runoff water and delayed flows from the main flow line to the cultivable lands through arrangement of channels on contours. This system is more popular in tribal areas where the topography is highly undulating and it is difficult to lift water to the higher elevation lands. a temporary barrier made out of stones and mud against small or medium streams. Water is diverted from main flow to their lands through channels excavated on contour.

Maharashtra Institute of Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (MITTRA), an organization promoted by BAIF Development Research Foundation, Pune, has been promoting DBI channels in the tribal areas of Nandurbar district. Farmers are organized into a group called Water Users Group for each individual Diversion based irrigation system. They are involved in survey, planning, implementation, operation and maintenance of diversion based system of irrigation. These farmers have skills to excavate a channel along the contour line. Farmers’ having contiguous land area (10 to 50 acres) form informal group and commonly share the water out of diversion channel.

MITTRA has supported 25 such water users groups to develop diversion based irrigation systems. This has resulted in increased crop production on 400 acres of land and benefited 320 numbers of tribal families.

For more details, contact:
R.C.Kote and G. A. Patil
BAIF Development Research Foundation, Pune
E-mail: kote009@rediffmail.com


Jalkund

Yaju Yonio explaining her efforts
Yaju Yonio explaining her efforts

Lack of appropriate rainwater management practices coupled with lack of suitable soil and water conservation measures lead to severe water scarcity, affecting crop productivity in the hilly villages of Arunachal Pradesh. The area having steep slopes, only small water harvesting structures can be made. GOI under the SWPAL project promoted water harvesting structures called jalkund to collect water from runoff.

Mrs. Yaju Yonio is one of the many women farmers of Belo village of Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh who from Jalkund promoted by GOI. Farmers in the region primarily on depend on agriculture, that too under rainfed conditions. To promote jalkunds, a series of training and demonstrations were given to farmers from three different districts namely West siang, East siang and Upper subansiri districts.

Having adopted jalkund, Yaju Yonio has been able to raise crops even during post-rainy season which was otherwise being infested by weeds. She could earn more income by rearing poultry, pig, growing legumes and high value crops viz., tomato, cabbage, cauliflower etc. during post rainy season. By growing sequential crops, weed population was reduced drastically and the yield of rainy season crops, mainly rice, also increased because of improvement in soil health.

For more details, contact:
Choudhary VK, Suresh Kumar P and Bhagawati R
ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region,
AP Centre,
Basar Arunachal Pradesh- 791 101
E-mail: psureshars@gmail.com