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I have been following this thread about wild farming & would like to
share the work we are doing in Uttaranchal, a newly born State in India.
The farming practices in the mountains is very different and completely
depends on the natural resources, particularly the forest.
Due to this interdependence, we are advocating organic farming with the
support of the Uttaranchal government. The extension is being done by
converting the villages into Bio-villages. Complete information can be
provided to any one who might like to know about the same. We would also
welcome any suggestions or ideas that anyone can share with us.
The farming practices in the hill region of Uttaranchal presents some
interesting facts which must be kept in mind if any for of developmental
activities are to be designed.
It is a fact that the topography of Uttaranchal presents slopy lands
with poor soil depth and fragile eco-system. The farmers evolved through
centuries of informal experimentation a system of agriculture, which was
most suitable. Its main feature was conserving the natural resources of
soil via live stock dung and forest vegetation. Over a period of time,
however, the sustainability of the system was eroded owing to an
increase in human & livestock population.
The interdependence of various eco-systems is very evident. It is
perhaps already known that hill farming follows a unique farming system
in which people, water, habits, individual holdings, live stocks, common
lands (forest and grazing lands) are integrated with each other. It is
impossible to focus on just one system to bring about any development.
To bring about any meaningful development, it is imperative that the
whole system is broken down into small segments and then each segment is
approached individually, keeping the overall goal in mind. For this
purpose, various systems have been broken down into two distinct groups:
These groups could be called Human Activity and Natural Resources
respectively. They are:
Human Activity Natural Resources
Agriculture Reserve Forest
Horticulture Grazing lands
In the mountains, unlike the plains Natural Resources are price less as
they effect the very essence of Human Activity.
The approach needs to be integrated and not compartmentalized to bring
about development. It has been experienced that Farmers, who adopted one
factor, abandoned it and reverted back to their traditional methods as a
Fodder accounts for nearly 70% of livestock rearing cost. Availability
is a problem. It is supplemented with fresh leaves, which the village
women get from far off places. Fodder is being imported into the
mountains from the plains as well. This needs to be stopped and fodder
needs to be either grown or grazing areas increased scientifically.
>From some statistics and research available, it is seen that:
About 8 hectares of Reserve forest is needed to support approximately 1
hectare of land and 1 hectare of Reserve forest gives approximately 33
quintals of compost.
Earlier, there were huge Oak forests and social forestry (Bhimal,
bamboo, Bakain, mulberry etc) which have got depleted over a period of
time. Now mainly Pine trees could be seen in most forests. The loss of
broad leaves of the Oak and loss of green fodder resulted in lower
availability of biomass needed for rain fed region. Pine needles takes
time to decompose. Raw Pine needle compost resulted in the growth of
white grub insects which was harmful for farming.
Factors, which effect savings and investment ? ability to save, will to
save and motivation to save, are lacking. There has been no Capital
formation except in terms of livestock and compact holdings in a few
areas. There is a need to identify technological, institutional and
resource management strategies, which will help in generating cash
income at farmer level and reduce drudgery of women, without degrading
the eco-system further.