Risk Prone Agriculture: Natural Demonstration in Uttarakhand Disaster
*R P Singh, Ph.D.
Associate Director Extension
A wel...
resource’ and is identified as unfavorable or difficult areas. These are mainly rain fed, and often
undulating and with fr...
develop and test technologies. In the early stages of a new movement, many flowers have
bloomed and many labels have been ...
Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and
regional organizations, should:
(...
Means of implementation
(a) Financing and cost evaluation
Actual costs and financial terms, including any that are non-con...
biomass cover. Soil erosion can have a devastating impact on the vast numbers of rural people
who depend on rain fed agric...
Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and
regional organizations, should:
(...
(a) Promote a multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach in training and the dissemination of
knowledge to local people...
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Risk prone agri.

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Hill and Mountain ecosystems comes under risk prone agriculture. Devastation in Uttarakhand compeled us to think over risk prone agriculture and develop managerial methods.

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Risk prone agri.

  1. 1. Risk Prone Agriculture: Natural Demonstration in Uttarakhand Disaster *R P Singh, Ph.D. Associate Director Extension A well known environmentalist and reckoned activist of Chipko-Movement Shri Sunder Lal Bahuguna said about the disaster ‘It is a man-made disaster. When you try force change nature and its landscape, it gets back and punishes you. This was a land meant for meditation, but it has been turned into purely a tourist destination. The government and the big private money have brought in changes on a gigantic scale, totally unsuitable and detrimental for fragile ecosystem of the Himalayas. If the government wants to end this cycle of disasters it should ban excavations, big dams, and construction of roads in higher altitude and fragile regions. Dams on free flowing serpentine rivers are making the living water dead’ (Hindustan Times; July 9, 2013). It has been a rough month, a terrible disaster for those directly affected by the calamity in Uttarakhand. For many of us, witness to the events unfolding, the difficulty caused by the nature. Stories of loss, miracles and heroism abound. As the echoes fade away, the effort to help the impacted cannot lose momentum. What is lost is gone forever, we are now obliged to provide hope; to the young of a brighter tomorrow and to the people at large, the possibility of resurgence. The disaster left the imprint of its existence on the heart of millions. Electronic, print and social media is discussing Uttarakhand for revival. Government and Non Government Organizations are making efforts for supplying food and domestic use materials to the people of the affected regions. But people of the area are concerned about their agriculture. The agriculture of this area is only means of food security and livelihood enterprise. Nothing has been discussed about agricultural recoupment and contingency plan for further agriculture. A study “Constraint analysis in adoption of vegetable production technologies for livelihood perspective of Tribal farmers in North Sikkim” revealed that ‘Most of the growers loose their produces even after bumper production of crops’ due to poor management of soil and physical terrain (Mohanty et al, 2013). As Shri Bahuguna mentioned ‘fragile ecosystem of Himalaya’, is risk prone for agriculture. The basic rule is to do agriculture on less than 30% of land slop. More than this slop agriculture will certainly be not profitable and cause for soil erosion. Here we should discuss agriculture in Uttarakhand, especially hill dominated area. It comes under high land of the Hindukush Himalaya. There are three types of agriculture identified by the Brundtland Commission (WCED 1987; 120-2). These were Industrial agriculture, green revolution agriculture and the third, resource poor agriculture. The first or industrial agriculture is found in industrialized, rich world, but also in specialized enclaves in the third world. It has large farming unites, is highly capitalized, and relies on high inputs and often on high subsidies. The second or green revolution agriculture is found in agricultural heartlands in well endowed areas in the Third world, either irrigated or with good and reliable rainfall. These include the large irrigated plain and deltas of South, South east and East Asia and part of Latin America and North Africa. It includes large and small farms, and exploits high yielding varieties with complementary inputs. The third type of agriculture has been described as ‘low resource’, ‘resource poor’ or ‘under valued
  2. 2. resource’ and is identified as unfavorable or difficult areas. These are mainly rain fed, and often undulating and with fragile or problem soils. They include farming lands of many types- in hinterlands, high lands, dry lands and wet lands and in forests, mountains and hills. The hill and mountain zone comes under third type of agriculture which is resource poor and under valued. The new challenge to the agricultural research can be understood in terms of these three types of agriculture. Industrial and green revolution agriculture are both relatively simple in their farming systems, often with large fields and monocropping, uniform in their environments, and low risk. In contrast, the third type of agriculture can be characterized as complex in its farming systems, divers in its environments and risk prone. The resource poor farm families of the complex diversified and risk prone agriculture have not benefited as much. In contrast with industrialized and green revolution agriculture the physical, social and economic conditions of this resource poor agriculture differ more from those of research stations. Simple and high input- packages do not fit well with the small scale, complexity and diversity of their farming systems or with their poor access and risk prone environments. For them each season demands its own adaptive performance, depending on unpredictable weather, and the inter play over time of farming activities with the household’s resources. Farm families often lack reliable access to purchased inputs, and need to use them sparingly, if at all, in the face of risks. In these conditions there are limits to extent their needs can be met by conventional research. One consequence has been that resource- poor farmers have been slow or unable to adopt many of recommendations flowing from agricultural research. Earlier after independence it was considered as ignorance and extension education was prescribed. In 70s and early 80s , non- adoption was often attributed as farm level constraints; gap in yield between research station and farm were analyzed; and the prescription was to try to make the farm more like the research station. In the 90s , it was realized that the problem is neither the farmer nor the farm, but the technology; and that the fault of the technology can be traced to the priorities and processes which generate it. This insight have been recognized by many sources world wide, and Indigenous technical Knowledge has been more and more recognized as valid and useful. In agriculture, social and biological sciences have increasingly gone to farmers to understand farmers to understand reasons for non-adoption. Farming system researches have made huge contribution by revealing the complexity of farming systems and of the decisions which face resource poor farmers. Farmers have increasingly been recognized as themselves innovators and experimenters; perhaps most decisively, farmers have again and again been found to be rational and right in behavior which at first seemed irrational and wrong to outside professional observers. While these changes have been gathering momentum, few social and biological scientists and few field workers have started new ways with farm families, and showed that besides normal agricultural research, there are also other ways to identify priorities and to
  3. 3. develop and test technologies. In the early stages of a new movement, many flowers have bloomed and many labels have been used. ‘Farmer back to Farmers’, ‘Farmer first and last’, ‘Farmer Participatory Research’ and ‘Approach Development’ have been added to ‘downstream’ farming system research. The later forms of these approaches all use reversal to complement to conventional research. The conventional approach has been ‘Transfer of Technology’. In this mode, priorities are determined by scientists, who generate technology on research stations and laboratory, to be transferred through extension services to farmers. In the new complementary mode, this process is stood on its head. Instead of starting with knowledge, problems, analysis and priorities of scientists, it starts with the knowledge, problem, analysis and the priorities of farmer’s families. Instead of research stations as the main locus of action, it is now the farm. Instead of the scientist as the central experimenter, it is now the farmer as man or women and other member of the farm family. The label that is given to these practices does not matter, but farmer’s participation and priorities are recurrent themes and reversal to the central. These reverse practices are the need of hours for research priorities in the fragile ecosystems and risk prone agriculture, which may vary at meters or families. It requires more intensification of scientific researches and trained farmers to adapt the newer technology at fast rate. Hill and mountain ecosystem representing the complex and interrelated ecology of our planet, mountain environments are essential to the survival of global ecosystem. Mountain ecosystems are, however, rapidly changing. They are susceptible to accelerated soil erosion, landslides, and rapid loss of habitat and genetic diversity. On the human side, there is widespread poverty among mountain inhabitants and loss of indigenous knowledge. In Uttarakhand, people are experiencing environmental degradation which affects all the adjoining areas and people. Hence, the proper management of the mountain resources and socio economic development of the people deserves immediate action. There is need to focus on two main areas to save the fragile ecosystem of hill and mountain: (A). Generating and strengthening knowledge about the ecology and sustainable development of mountain ecosystems. (B). Promoting integrated watershed development and alternative livelihood opportunities. (A). Generating and strengthening knowledge about the ecology and sustainable development of mountain ecosystems. Management related activities
  4. 4. Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should: (a) Strengthen existing institutions or establish new ones at local, national and regional levels to generate a multidisciplinary land/water ecological knowledge base on mountain ecosystems; (b) Promote national policies that would provide incentives to local people for the use and transfer of environment-friendly technologies and farming and conservation practices; (c) Build up the knowledge base and understanding by creating mechanisms for cooperation and information exchange among national and regional institutions working on fragile ecosystems; (d) Encourage policies that would provide incentives to farmers and local people to undertake conservation and regenerative measures; (e) Diversify mountain economies, inter/alia, by creating and/or strengthening tourism, in accordance with integrated management of mountain areas; (f) Integrate all forest, rangeland and wildlife activities in such a way that specific mountain ecosystems are maintained; (g) Establish appropriate natural reserves in representative species-rich sites and areas. Data and information Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should: (a) Maintain and establish meteorological, hydrological and physical monitoring analysis and capabilities that would encompass the climatic diversity as well as water distribution of various mountain regions of the world; (b) Build an inventory of different forms of soils, forests, water use, and crop, plant and animal genetic resources, giving priority to those under threat of extinction. Genetic resources should be protected in situ by maintaining and establishing protected areas and improving traditional farming and animal husbandry activities and establishing programmes for evaluating the potential value of the resources; (c) Identify hazardous areas that are most vulnerable to erosion, floods, landslides, earthquakes, snow avalanches and other natural hazards; (d) Identify mountain areas threatened by air pollution from neighbouring industrial and urban areas.
  5. 5. Means of implementation (a) Financing and cost evaluation Actual costs and financial terms, including any that are non-concessional, will depend upon, inter alia, the specific strategies and programmes Governments decide upon for implementation. (b) Scientific and technological means Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should strengthen scientific research and technological development programmes, including diffusion through national and regional institutions, particularly in meteorology, hydrology, forestry, soil sciences and plant sciences. (c) Human resource development Governments at the appropriate level, and with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should: (a) Launch training and extension programmes in environmentally appropriate technologies and practices that would be suitable to mountain ecosystems; (b) Support higher education through fellowships and research grants for environmental studies in mountains and hill areas, particularly for candidates from indigenous mountain populations; (c) Undertake environmental science education for farmers, in particular for women, to help the rural population to better understand the ecological issues regarding the sustainable development of mountain ecosystems. (d) Capacity-building Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should build up national and regional institutional bases that could carry out research, training and dissemination of information on the sustainable development of the economies of fragile ecosystems. (B). Promoting integrated watershed development and alternative livelihood opportunities. There are serious problems of ecological deterioration in the watershed areas. For example, in the hillside areas of the Uttarakhand, a large portion of the farming population is now faced with a rapid deterioration of land resources, which make vital contributions to agricultural production, are threatened by cultivation of marginal lands due to expanding population. In many areas this is accompanied by excessive livestock grazing, deforestation and loss of
  6. 6. biomass cover. Soil erosion can have a devastating impact on the vast numbers of rural people who depend on rain fed agriculture in the mountain and hillside areas. Poverty, unemployment, poor health and bad sanitation are widespread. Promoting integrated watershed development programmes through effective participation of local people is a key to preventing further ecological imbalance. An integrated approach is needed for conserving, upgrading and using the natural resource base of land, water, plant, animal and human resources. In addition, promoting alternative livelihood opportunities, particularly through development of employment schemes that increase the productive base, will have a significant role in improving the standard of living among the large rural population living in mountain ecosystems. Management-related activities Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should: (a) Undertake measures to prevent soil erosion and promote erosion-control activities in all sectors; (b) Establish task forces or watershed development committees, complementing existing institutions, to coordinate integrated services to support local initiatives in animal husbandry, forestry, horticulture and rural development at all administrative levels; (c) Enhance popular participation in the management of local resources through appropriate legislation; (d) Support non-governmental organizations and other private groups assisting local organizations and communities in the preparation of projects that would enhance participatory development of local people; (e) Provide mechanisms to preserve threatened areas that could protect wild life conserve biological diversity or serve as national parks; (f) Develop national policies that would provide incentives to farmers and local people to undertake conservation measures and to use environment-friendly technologies; (g) Undertake income-generating activities in cottage and agro-processing industries, such as the cultivation and processing of medicinal and aromatic plants; (h) Undertake the above activities, taking into account the need for full participation of women, including indigenous people and local communities, in development. Data and information
  7. 7. Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should: (a) Maintain and establish systematic observation and evaluation capacities at the national, state or provincial level to generate information for daily operations and to assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of projects; (b) Generate data on alternative livelihoods and diversified production systems at the village level on annual and tree crops, livestock, poultry, beekeeping, fisheries, village industries, markets, transport and income-earning opportunities, taking fully into account the role of women and integrating them into the planning and implementation process. Means of implementation (a) Financial and cost evaluation Actual costs and financial terms, including any that are non-concessional, will depend upon, inter alia, the specific strategies and programmes Governments decide upon for implementation. Financing for the promotion of alternative livelihoods in mountain ecosystems should be viewed as part of a country's anti-poverty or alternative livelihoods programme. (b) Scientific and technical means Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should: (a) Consider undertaking pilot projects that combine environmental protection and development functions with particular emphasis on some of the traditional environmental management practices or systems that have a good impact on the environment; (b) Generate technologies for specific watershed and farm conditions through a participatory approach involving local men and women, researchers and extension agents who will carry out experiments and trials on farm conditions; (c) Promote technologies of vegetative conservation measures for erosion prevention, in situ moisture management, improved cropping technology, fodder production and agroforestry that are low-cost, simple and easily adopted by local people. (c) Human resource development Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should:
  8. 8. (a) Promote a multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach in training and the dissemination of knowledge to local people on a wide range of issues, such as household production systems, conservation and utilization of arable and non-arable land, treatment of drainage lines and recharging of groundwater, livestock management, fisheries, agro forestry and horticulture; (b) Develop human resources by providing access to education, health, energy and infrastructure; (c) Promote local awareness and preparedness for disaster prevention and mitigation, combined with the latest available technology for early warning and forecasting. (d) Capacity-building Governments at the appropriate level should develop and strengthen national centres for watershed management to encourage a comprehensive approach to the environmental, socio- economic, technological, legislative, financial and administrative aspects and provide support to policy makers, administrators, field staff and farmers for watershed development. The private sector and local communities, in cooperation with national Governments, should promote local infrastructure development, including communication networks, mini- or micro- hydro development to support cottage industries, and access to markets. References: Hindustan Times; daily news paper (English) in India, July 9, 2013. Published from New Delhi. Mohanty, A K, B Lepch and Ashok Kumar, ‘Constraint analysis in adoption of vegetable production technologies for livelihood perspective of tribal farmers in North Sikkim’.IRJEE, Vol.13 No.2, 2013. WCED, 1987: 120; 2. Washington.

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