Indias farmers acting on Land Rejuvenation

Guruswami and wife ShantaMy old Blog-Pal Heidi has sent me the link to an interesting picture gallery on the BBC-India-Site. Under the title: „Natural ways of increasing Indian yields“, the pictures and their captions describe a rather large-based approach to solving some of the enormous problems of Indian small scale farmers. They often lack water, proper production factors and Know-how, just to name a few. As the rural population is still very large, India has a large poverty problem, although it is at the same time one of the fastest growing economic powers in the world. One numeric fact that may highlight the problems is, that 40 percent of the children in India are malnourished. 
The above-mentioned project is summoned under the name of Bhoochentana („Soil Rejuvenation“) and implemented under authority of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) and the Government of Karnataka, a large state in the south of India. Bangalore, the biggest city in Karnataka is one of the economic capitals of India, but the majority of the states population is rural: „Nearly 56% of the workforce in Karnataka is engaged in agriculture and related activities. A total of 12.31 million hectares of land, or 64.6% of the state’s total area, is cultivated. Much of the agricultural output is dependent on the southwest Monsoon as only 26.5% of the sown area is irrigated“, writes Wikipedia.
Farmer with banana plants in troughAccording to Icrisat, Karnataka has the second largest area under rainfed (meaning non-irigated) agriculture after Rajasthan in the country. This means that the very concentrated precipitation during the monsoon-period has to be treated very carefully. One of the activities of the project is therefore to preserve the rainwater by building embankments around the fields as shown in the above picture.
Other activities include the improvement of cultivars, fertilizing and capacity-building. It’s always difficult to assess the quality of such a project from far away and with a relatively low level of information. But although there is a lot of institutions and bureaucracy involved, it seems that the method is concentrating on strengthening the farmers by building on their knowledge and trying to improve it, instead of just confrontating them with modern expensive technology and not taking into account social conditions and local traditions. When I look at the picture of one of the portrayed farmers and his wife above and below (presenting Azolla fern that they produced in their own pond to fertilize and feed the cattle), it seems to me, that they are quite involved and enthusiastic about the support to self-empowering that they receive. And that is the most important. (Pics Alina Paul Bossuet/Icrisat)
Guruswami and wife Shanta scooping handfuls of algae from their pond 

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