The saga of sustainable Wadi

Ganga Ankad 

Key factor for successful farming is the integration of several enterprises. When integrated applying the principles of recycling, even a small piece of land can produce enough to provide food, nutrition and income to farm families. Malleshappa is a case – journey from despair to remunerative farming.

Malleshappa Haklad of Kamplikoppa village in Dharwad district, Karnataka owns 1.2 ha rainfed land.  The only livelihood source of the family is this piece of land; which proved to be unproductive.  Malleshappa had a tough time maintaining his family with 6 children depending on the unproductive land.

In the year 1996, Kamplikoppa was selected as one of the cluster villages by BAIF, for implementing a tree based farming (Wadi) programme under its TTSD (Transfer of Technology for Sustainable Development) project. Wadi package mainly includes preparing 50 cmt trench cum bunds, establishing a farm pond (30 x 30 x 10 ft), planting 40 horticulture plants and 500-800 forestry seedlings, fodder development and setting up a vermi compost unit.  The programme emphasises on integrating agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fodder in a single canopy of one acre land to ensure food, fodder, fuel security along with self employment throughout the year.

Though reluctant in the beginning, Malleshappa enrolled for the wadi programme in 1998. Initially he became a member of Self Help Group. The project support was made through SHG. Two members from each SHG in a village represented the Grama Vikas Samiti (GVS).  The GVS of all the villages federated into an Apex body called ‘Sarvodaya Maha Sangha’, represented by 2 members from each GVS.  The Federation is registered under society act and engaged in collective marketing. During the project period – from 1996 to 2002, various training programmes were organized to the members on various aspects like SHG formation, book keeping, tree based farming, after care for horticultural plants, dairy development, fodder development, calf rearing, value addition, health and hygiene, sanitation etc.  Malleshappa too underwent a series of trainings, exposures on soil and water conservation, tree based farming, organic farming, livestock, fodder cultivation etc.

 Malleshappa established 40 sapota plants on 0.4 hectares of land. He also planted other horticulture plants like custard apple, papaya, jackfruit, lemon, drumstick, coconut and cashew. Sapota started fruiting from 4th year onwards.  Except drumstick, all other fruits are used for home consumption.  On an average, Rs. 2000/- is earned by sale of drumstick. The integrated system started providing sustainable income from 6th year onwards. On an average, Malleshappa reaps an annual income of Rs. 45,000/- from horticulture plantation. Owing to good returns, Malleshappa expanded the area under horticulture to another half an acre planting 50 mango plants, from his own investment.

Integrating multiple enterprises

Malleshappa has been using the spaces in wadi for growing intercrops. In 2011, he started growing turmeric, as the shade effect of the 15 year old orchard suits very well for turmeric cultivation. He harvested one quintal of fingers from one gunta land. However, later, owing to rainfall deficit, he reduced the area under turmeric. Presently, he harvests about 10 kg green fingers, processes them and uses for home consumption.

He has been growing vegetables since 2011. He started little gourd cultivation with only one vine.  He expanded the vines through stem cutting to 150 and made pandal system for spreading the vines.  Fruiting starts in 2 months and continues till 10 months in an year.  Malleshappa harvests 20 – 40 kg per week.  He also grows cluster beans, ridge gourd, okra, brinjal, chilly, cucumber, raddish, fenugreek etc., for home consumption.  Black gram is grown in 15 gunta area for home consumption which yields about one quintal.

Around 800 forestry seedlings of different species viz., teak, eucalyptus, casuarina, sesbania, acacia, silver oak, glyricidea, subabul are planted all along the border of the land.  Every year, lateral branches are pruned and used as fuel wood. From fifth year, well grown few acacia plants are cut and used for construction of house and cattle shed.  Malleshappa earns around Rs. 15,000/- annually from selling lateral branches.  He provides it on contract basis for surrounding villagers at Rs. 300/- per quintal (fresh wood).  In addition to this, the fuel wood requirement of his home is also met.

Different varieties of fodder species are grown on bunds and in between two horticulture plants. Fodder species include grasses like Stylohamata, Stylosanthus scabra,  guinea and hybrid napier and tree species like sesbania, glyricidia and subabul.  The green fodder from his land is sufficient to feed his cattle.  He sells the extra grown root slips.  On an average, every year, he sells Rs. 20,000/- worth of root slips.

With enough fodder available, Malleshappa expanded his livestock. Milk production also increased proportionate to the herd size. Presently every day, 8 litres of milk is sold in local dairy and 3 litres are being used for home consumption.

Recycling resources

The technique of recycling agriculture waste to livestock feed and livestock waste to agriculture through manure has been practiced systematically. The agriculture wastes of jowar, maize, soyabean, tur, cow pea are being used as hay.  In summer, the green fodder requirement is met from sesbania, subabul and glyricidia plants.  The dung is used for vermicompost production. With the increasing animal herd size and availability of plenty of biomass, it was possible to produce sufficient compost.  Sufficient manure is applied to the land while the surplus is sold. Malleshappa sells vermicompost and even worms at times, to get some additional income. On an average, he sells around 100 quintals of vermi compost. Besides producing compost, the dung is also used for producing biogas. The biogas unit was set up  with the support from gram panchayat.  The slurry that comes out from biogas unit goes back to the compost pit.

 Rain water is being harvested regularly from the farm pond developed on his land.  On an average, 4 lakh litres of water is being harvested annually.  He uses the farm pond water for providing protective irrigation to intercrops, livestock and used in vermi compost preparation.  He de-silts the pond every alternate year.

 Reaping multiple benefits

With multiple enterprises, Malleshappa earns a good income from his hitherto unproductive land of 1.2 hectares. Annually, on an average, he gets around Rs.45000 from horticultural crops, Rs.15000 from forestry, Rs.75000 from sale of milk, Rs. 20000 from sale of fodder slips and Rs. 60000 from sale of vermicompost. This he earns besides harvesting vegetables for the household. In this way, the small piece of land is providing nutritious food to the whole family in terms of healthy vegetables, milk and milk products, different fruits and grains and an annual income to the tune of  Rs.2,15,000.

Malleshappa has switched to ecofriendly ways of farming. He applies plenty of compost / vemi compost to the soil. He applies ‘keetajanya nashaka’, a biological pesticide to control the pests. He has become an expert in utilizing the available natural resources effectively.  With renewed interest in farming, he has expanded his cultivation by leasing in three acres and working on 50-50 share basis on another 9 acres of land.

The economic condition brought confidence to Malleshappa’s family.  He has been honored for his success. He addresses the farmers, shares his experience attends trainings as resource person. His two sons assist him in agriculture. His wife Kallavva is the director of an apex body ‘Sarvodaya Maha Sangha’. She is the President of milk dairy operated by SHG and now, President of Varur Gram Panchayat.  All the family members are enjoying dignified life in the village.

Ms. Ganga Ankad

BAIF Institute for Sustainable Livelihoods & Development -K



Recently Published Articles


Call for articles

Share your valuable experience too

Share This