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Our latest report is from a recent site visit last month by IDEX’s Executive Director, Vini Bhansali. Take a read at this eye-opening on-the-ground report to see how your donations to this project are being put to this inspiring and effective work!
After a 4-hour journey from Jodhpur, Shashi Tyagi, Rahul Mishra, Abdul (all GRAVIS employees) and I arrive in Kolu Nimbyat village in Western Rajasthan’s rural desert area. I’ve spent most of the trip marveling at the effects of abundant rainfall this July and August. For the first time in almost 3 years in Rajasthan the monsoon has brought enough water. While I cannot describe Jodhpur’s landscape as “lush,” relative to past years there is green everywhere. Cows, buffalos, goats and even dogs that are usually skin and bones in drought-ridden Rajasthan now have some fat on their bones.
Our first stop is at the home of Poonam Kanwar. Poonam planted her garden in 2007 with sesame, lemons, watermelons, cucumbers, moong (a nutritious Indian lentil), moth (another Indian lentil), cluster beans or guar, bor (desert fruit) and millet or bajra. She demonstrates her homegrown drip irrigation system made with earthen pots. Poonam also uses natural pesticides that she makes with cow dung and indigenous herbs. The garden is beautifully tended to and the whole family has seen their health improve since they started eating this nutrition rich diet from their garden.
The Government of India has many agricultural programs for desert areas. One of which is to provide families with 50 units of seedlings and plants. This can be counter-productive for many rural families who simply do not have access to sufficient water to take care of household needs. Let alone tend to animals, and manage a large food garden.
GRAVIS supports families with 4 main crops and no more than 16 seedlings. This is a more manageable amount. It allows families to experiment with growing drought tolerant and indigenous crops. As they adopt more sustainable farming methods they are able to yield more food for their families. They can also use conserved water to gradually increase the size of their gardens. It’s another indication of how holistic, integrated approaches to rural development recognize that water and food security are deeply connected.