Project #1590

Food Security From Sustainable Agriculture, India

by Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (Gravis)

Ten fruit tree orchards were established. These horticulture units are of the size of 40 ft x 30 ft. and each orchard has 18-20 trees of four different varieties. The farmers were selected on the basis that they would be able to provide water to the plants. The water in most cases comes from rainwater harvesting structures installed with support from GRAVIS.

The horticulture units produce indigenous varieties of fruit like goonda, pomegranate, lemon and desert plum. Some of these plants, like the pomegranate, give yield three times a year. The native citrus tree yields 500 kilos of fruit per year, which sell for approximately 25 cents per kilo, yielding an income of $119 per tree. Th

Drip irrigation has been found very effective in this part of the desert. Not only the frequency of watering the plants is reduced but due to the constant moisture, the termite attacks decrease as well, ensuring a higher survival rate for each tree.

Two trainings were also organized at GRAVIS field center. Individuals were brought to the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK, or Center for Agricultural Sciences) - the extension unit of the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI) at Jodhpur. These trainings served a dual purpose of training as well as field exposure visits. KVK not only have the technical expertise, they also have numerous demonstration plots of arid horticulture, pastureland development, organic compost, worm compost, and livestock rearing.

The participants showed a high level of interest and cleared many doubts about the type of crops to be sown, the place from where good quality seed could be procured, the time of sowing, the process of composting, common diseases of animals and how to prevent contracting them etc. These trainings also helped bring a shift in the perception of many who during a later meeting agreed to develop demonstration plots on their fields related to organic farming.

Thank you for all your support for this project. To continue to support GRAVIS’ work please visit Project 2171 – Help women secure food and water in India.

In the past six months, four seed banks have been established by GRAVIS in four project villages. Local seeds of different crops were collected from the villages during harvesting season and preserved in pots with ash and dried neem leaves (a tree native to the area which thrives in drought conditions). The mouths of the pots are sealed with mud. This is how seeds are traditionally preserved in the villages.

One Village Development Communities (VDC) and three Self help Groups (SHGs) are managing these seed banks. Each seed bank contains six local varieties of seeds and will benefit a total of 105 families.

GRAVIS has completed ten horticulture units. These horticulture units are 40 ft. x 30 ft. and each until plants 18 to 20 trees of four different indigenous varieties: Goonda (citrus fruit used for making vegetable curries), pomegranate, lemon and desert plum. The families who now own these horticulture units were selected on the basis that they would be able to provide water to these trees. Some of these trees such as the pomegranate tree yield pomegranate fruits three times a year. Others such as the native citrus tree (goonda) yield a quintal (220 pounds) per year, which can then be sold for 30 cents per pound.

The horticulture unit is a long-term investment since it takes an average of three years for the trees to grow and mature to yield their fruits.

Transitioning to compost as a bio-fertilizer:

The traditional practice in the villages is to use cow dung/ sheep/goat pellet as natural fertilizers. However, using dung in an untreated form can cause problems. The dung attracts termites; which, also carry seeds of unwanted plants. If these seeds take rot in the fields they will compete with the crop. In addition the extreme heat causes nitrogen to be lost from the dung, and as such it is rendered ineffective.

An alternative is to use compost, but training needs to provided. 5 compost units have been established as demonstration units. The plan is to motivate the farming community to adopt the practice of composting.

Agriculture in the Thar Desert is poor due to lack of rainfall and scarcity of vegetation. GRAVIS is setting up arid horticulture units (a small garden of fruit trees). The species of these trees have been selected by expert opinion of horticulturists, with a view that the plants should survive in arid conditions with a minimum amount of water. The units have 15-20 fruit plants such as lemon, desert plum, pomegranate, guava and anwala. In 2007, ten of these units will be set up.

While indigenous seeds continue to be used in rain fed agriculture, it is possible to improve quality of seeds by proper selection. GRAVIS will set up seed banks by using indigenous seeds of good quality. The seed banks will store seeds of crops grown locally.

GRAVIS has set up three seed banks, where farmers can store high quality varieties of seeds.


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Organization Information

Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (Gravis)

Location: Jodhpur, Rajasthan - India
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Katherine Zavala
Program Officer, IDEX
San Francisco, CA United States

Funded Project!

Thanks to 3 donors like you, a total of $325 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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