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Wadi, the tree based farming model

Tree based farming has proved successful in providing sustained incomes for the farmers in the rainfed areas. The model has helped in converting the unproductive waste lands of tribal families in parts of Maharashtra into productive mango and cashew growing lands.

Wadi, the tree based farming model

Bhendipada is a small village with 80 households. Around 80% of total population is ‘Warli’ tribals and 15 % is Katkari community. Average land holding is 2.50 acres. Majority of the farmers cultivate paddy during the monsoon and also grow millets like Nagli and Varai. But during the other seasons, people depend on the forest produce or migrate to nearby places in search of livelihood.

To help small farmers to get sustainable income, Maharashtra Institute of Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (MITTRA), an organization promoted by BAIF Development Research Foundation, Pune promoted tree-based farming through agri-hortiforestry model called as wadi. Wadi model consists of plantation of 50 to 60 plants (2 to 3 species of grafts) on one acre land with forestry along the borders. The one acre land is also provided with live hedge and dry fencing. Small farmers with less than 5 acres lands are eligible for participation in programme. They are provided with technical support in pit digging, graft selection, plantation, after care activities along with improved agriculture and vegetable cultivation.

The wadi model was first shared and discussed in village meetings. Initially, people of Bhendipada were reluctant to go for wadi. Most of the farmers were apprehensive of survival of grafts owing to rainfed conditions prevailing in the area. Some also feared that their lands may be grabbed by these outsiders. To convince them a few selected farmers were taken to Gujarat where BAIF had successfully established wadies.

Mr. Ganesh was the first person to go for wadi. Though people laughed at him, he ignored them. He had stiff opposition from the elders in the family as Ganesh’s grandfather had earlier failed in such tree farming. Ganesh’s grand father had taken a loan of Rs. 1000 for plantation of 50 Alphanso grafts 20 years back. But he couldn’t raise horticulture plants as they did not survive under rainfed condition. His loan mounted to Rs.5000 which he could not repay.

But Ganesh was keen on trying the wadi model. He felt it would help him stay back in his village instead of migrating to Mumbai or Nashik after Kharif season. In the year 2000-01, Mr. Ganesh decided to participate in BAIFs wadi programme and planted mango and cashew grafts on a piece of one acre land. He not only cared for plants but also treated plot for conservation of soil and water by trenching. He actively involved in wadi holders group meetings for knowing the scientific techniques of pit digging, fertilizer application, taking care of plants and watering plants as and w hen needed. Now he has 60 plants grown successfully along with forestry, floriculture and also started vegetable cultivation.

Later on he also participated in floriculture by planting Galardia and Marigold on 200 square meter area as an intercultural crop in the same plot. He not only stopped at this but also planted eucalyptus as block plantation on 0.5 acre land and could manage to get diesel engine from tribal department for watering plants. Ganesh earned Rs. 30680/-in year 2010 from one acre land. The year wise income from wadi plot of Mr. Ganesh is given in the Table.

Year

Mango

Cashew

Vegetable Cultivation  Earnings (Rs)

Floriculture Earnings (Rs)

Total Earnings (Rs)
Yield (kg) Earnings (Rs) Yield (kg) Earnings (Rs)
2004 50 1750 1750
2005 60 2100 1200 3300
2006 30 1500 105 3675 800 9600 15575
2007 60 2400 125 4375 2600 7600 16975
2008 90 3600 200 7000 3500 8000 22100
2009 45 1800 237 9480 3000 8500 22780
2010 400 10000 174 7830 3600 9250 30680

Wadi management

Participant farmers are grouped called as wadi tukadi with 10 members. Monthly meetings are held where various issues related to activities, marketing and processing of tree based produce are discussed. Through self help groups, women also participate in these meetings and interact on issues like growth of wadi plants, savings, health, marketing of products etc. Now the representatives from such wadi tukadi and SHGs have formed a ‘Vibhag’ for future planning of marketing and processing of produce like cashew, mango and vegetable. The processing of cashew is now being taken care of by the participants only. Vibhags are linked further with Vasundhara Agri-horti Producers’ Company (VAPCO L) a producer organization that brings together farmers to help them market their produce.

Mr. Ganesh is the member of Sahyadri Vibhag, which is the lead Vibhag for collecting and processing of produce like cashew and mango. He looks after cashew collection activity of Vibhag. He has also donated his one acre land to Vibhag for construction of cashew processing unit.

Scaling up

Looking at the success of Ganesh, 69 tribal farmers participated in raising wadies in village Bhendipada. MITTRA has successfully up scaled wadi model on on 1405.50 acres of 1658 families in Mokhada taluka and on 12293.50 acres land involving 13848 families in the tribal areas of Mokhada, Surgana , Peint and Trimbak blocks of Nasik district in Maharashtra through Adivasi Development Programme. Today, the unproductive waste lands of tribal families of Peint, Surgana, Trimbakand Mokhada talukas of Nashik and Thane district, are converted into mango and cashew growing lands.

B V Sherkar
Joint Programme Director
R C Kote
Assistant Thematic Programme Executive
BAIF Development Research Foundation
Pune. E-mail: mittra_nsk@data1.in