Towards sustainability….

“We were reluctantly migrating to other places in search of livelihood. Dry lands of ours with erratic rainfall, were not able to meet our food needs. Hardly one  crop could be grown in a year, that too only during years of good rainfall. Rest of the days we used to go to other places for labour work”

This was the scenario of  Mrs. Kallavva’s family few years ago.  Mrs. Kallavva Mallappa Haklad is a farm woman from Kamplikoppa village in Kalaghatagi taluk, of Dharwad district in Karnataka. This has been the experience of all other fellow farmers of her village nine years ago.  Now the situation has changed. the lives of farmers has improved considerably. They are almost self sufficient in their food requirements. How did it become possible?

BAIF, an NGO working in the region interacted with the local people. Understanding their rainfed agricultural background, they convinced farmers that by adopting integrated farming system, one could achieve better sustainability in agriculture. Lot of basic work was done. Various work groups were formed. With BAIF’s support, farmers adopted started soil and water conservation works. Bunds were formed at every 30 – 40 ft distance across the slope. These bunds were converted into live bunds by planting different varieties of fodder grass.

Trenches of 8 – 10 ft long 3 ft wide and 1 ½  deep were dug to harvest rain water. At appropriate location, two farm ponds were dug out each measuring 30ft x 30ft x 10 ft.  Rain water arrested by bunds, first seeped into the soil and the extra water got collected in the trenches and farm ponds. In this way, not even a single drop of water was allowed to flow out side their 4 acre land.

On farm pits were dug at  30ft distance, to plant mango and sapota seedlings. Free seedlings were provided by the organization to plant on one acre. For rest of the area Kallavva purchased Sapota seedlings and planted with organic fertilizer. Each plant is surrounded by a circular trench of 1ft width and 1ft depth. These trenches are filled with biomass, cow dung and mud. Water is poured in these trenches to avoid moisture stress.

In between these plants Maize, Jowar, Setaria, Soyabean, Greengram, Redgram, Cow pea, Groundnut and Sesamum, crops are being cultivated. Bean creepers, chillies, brinjal, tomato, drumstick, papaya, guava and several such crops are grown at random in the field to meet the family requirements. On other side of the farm, Teak, Silveroak, Tamarind, Gooseberry, Fig, Neem, Subabul, Glyricedia, Casuarina, Pongamia, Cassia, etc., are standing with their heads up in the sky. It resembles a tiny forest. Fruits, berries, Wood and such products from these forest species generate subsidiary income to the family.

Along with farm improvement, Kallavva gradually increased her cattle herd size. She developed a habbit of buying a new cow / buffalo when ever she earned good amount of income. She opted for dairy animals, thereby ensuring an assured income.

Kallavva produces 25 quintals of vermicompost ever year in her backyard.  Of this, ten quintals  is applied to the farm and the rest is sold. During last few years, Kallavva’s family was able to sell earthworms and vermicompost accounting to Rs.1,50,000/-

Meanwhile, the kitchen of kallavva got dressed up with cemented floor (previously mud floor) and equipped with smoke less chulla (oven) as well as biogas stove. This made her finish off cooking in short time and attend to field work. So also well constructed bathroom and toilet provided all hygienic facility to the family.

After feeding  cattle with fodder and having ample stock for the off-season Kallavva even sells, fodder seeds, rootslips to fellow farmers and to Agriculture University also. Dharwad Agriculture College has awarded Kallavva “Shreshta Krishi Mahile” (Excellent farm woman) award in 2005 for her outstanding achievements in land based activities.

Kallavva’s husband Mr.Mallappa expresses his deep gratitude to BAIF in his own words – “Now we have forgotten drought. Even in summer we have enough stock of food and fodder. We do not go anywhere to earn livelihood. There is plenty of work for us here in this field, through out the year.

Thus, Mrs.Kallavva and Mr.Mallappa have become self reliant in agricultural production by resorting to sustainable and eco-friendly practices.

Pushpa Kammar

Pushpa M Kammar

Agriculture Officer, ADA Office, Maddur -571428

Mandya, Karnataka


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