Article How farmers are coping with water scarcity? Part 2 (Part 1 )

Discussion in 'Discussion Topics' started by editorialteam, May 24, 2017.

  1. editorialteam

    editorialteam Active Member Staff Member

    Here is the second part in a series of interviews on water management ideas from farmers and experts.

    Drought in India is persuading us to re-think on our ways of farming! With scientific farming practices we have disturbed the natural ecology and taken the soil for granted for many years precisely since 1960 when green revolution was introduced in our country. Today the outcomes are disastrous primarily water shortage! There is little or no water then how do farmers grow food for the forever increasing population?

    In the first series, the solutions shared were low-cost groundwater recharge technology by Sankalpa Rural Development Society, Hubli, Karnataka; intercropping and livestock waste as practiced at Aranyani Farm; mulching to improve the moisture content in the soil as recommended by Dr. Jagadish Rane, drought management expert, National Institute of Abiotic Stress Management(NIASM).

    The second series of interviews on water management ideas brings the practical solutions to grow food with available water and closely watching the weather conditions, use of indigenous seeds, soil management and permaculture methods. Problem of lack of water does exist that certainly demoralizes the farming community but solutions also exist that rises hope for promising future!


    Mr. R. Baskaran

    Insists on growing pulses, oilseeds and millets in drought conditions in compliance with the change in climate


    “Water is becoming scarce with every passing day. The dry spell has now increased to 8-10 months and water in the river is available only for 1-2 months! The solution to the problem is change in cropping pattern that is in compliance with the climatic variations. By studying change in weather conditions and growing suitable crops it is possible to attain good yield and earn profits,” asserts Mr. R. Baskaran. His farm is located at Thenampadugai village, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu.
    Mr. R. Baskaran.jpg
    Mr. R. Baskaran

    Mr. Baskaran grows different crops on his 8 acre farmland round the year irrespective of inadequate water yet is able to get good yield. He is able to do so because he has researched on the relation between crops and seasons. Based on his findings he plans his cultivation. “I take into consideration the moisture content in air and soil along with water availability before growing any crop. Soil texture is also important factor to be kept in mind while planning any crop cultivation. For example if rains are good then only I grow paddy because paddy needs maximum water for good production. When my farmland region gets poor rainfall but the air is moist I opt for growing millets,” he explains.


    Rainfall patterns has been subject to change every year therefore in order to plan his cultivation Mr. Baskaran has studied the seasons precisely monsoon for paste many years. Sharing his findings he says, “From the year 2000-2004 there had been constant reduction in rainfall that even lead to drought. Then there was a complete change over in 2005 with plentiful rains resulting in floods. Then from 2006 rainfall pattern have been fluctuating drastically for 4 years and finally settling down to normality in 2010. Then once again drought was experienced in the year 2015-16. Hence on an average the drought happens once in five yearsfollowed by excess rain then fluctuating rains in between. To cope with these change farmers need to be flexible in their farming strategy.”

    It is essential to understand the characteristics and features of every crop seeds and what it requires from the weather. Accordingly cultivation must be planned. “One has to be in constant touch with metrological department to know the weather predictions and estimations. Cut, copy and paste doesn’t work in agriculture!” he says. “I have designed different set of crops for my farm.”

    Paddy cultivation needs more water therefore in the drought conditions Mr. Baskaran grows pulses, millets and oilseeds. “These crops fulfill the requirement of human consumption with grains as well as post harvest it gives fodder for cattle.” In monsoon season when the rainfall is less it is ideal to grow millets.


    Post monsoon, the air is moist and the soil has fairly good moisture hence it is ideal to grow pulses. “Green gram, black gram and other pulses are short duration crops. Even in the moist environment it germinates well with very little water and can be harvested in 80-90 days. It also enriches the soil fertility for the next crop,” he adds.


    After the pulses are harvested, oilseeds like groundnut, sesame can be grown. These grow well with only 2-3 irrigation. “When oilseeds are cultivated in February the oil content in the seeds is high and water required is less. Like pulses, oilseeds too grow well in mist. It gets harvested in 90-110 days. Although groundnut requires thorough ploughing to prepare the land but it is worth the effort when high yield is obtained,” he highlights. Later to the oilseed harvest, if the water continues to be scarce then farmers can once again sow millets like ragi, bajre etc. It shall be helpful to feed the cattle too. “There are many different types of millets available. All varieties grow well with 1-2 irrigation. It is harvested after 80 days.”


    Mr. Baskaran prefers direct sowing method mostly for all his crop seeds. “Number of rainy days are reducing every year but at least moisture is available in the soil and air that helps the seeds to germinate. Therefore soon after the initial rains in the beginning of monsoon, the farmland becomes wet enough to plough well and then I sow the seeds either in last week of September or first week of October,” he elaborates. Direct sowing was too much of an effort but it boosted the production remarkably. “Crops being cultivated with the direct sowing method, the tillers were very strong and upright with mature full grains and less chaff.”


    He practices absolutely zero-chemical farming and prefers indigenous seed varieties for cultivation. “Desi seeds are pest and disease resistant. Further if grown according to the season then even in less water the yield obtained is satisfactory unlike hybrid seeds that constantly demands for fertilizers and pesticides for moderate production with poor quality. Every desi seed variety has its own distinctive features and characteristics to comply with the climatic conditions. Follow it and flow with the nature then production will be good irrespective of good/bad/no rains,” he clarifies.


    Mr. Baskaran also recommends crop rotation for coping with less water issue, “Never grow same crop in ever season instead keep a balanced switch,” he explains. Pulses and millets grow very well in minimum water unlike other crop varieties.


    All the farm produce is sold directly to the friends and relatives. “As I am growing it absolutely without chemicals I sell it at premium price. If it is given to the middleman or mandi then I will have to compromise with price inspite of giving the best quality. So I sell all my farm produce through direct sales,” he asserts.


    Water is a biggest problem for farmers now but it can be dealt with the change in the farming pattern. “Practice natural farming method, grow desi seed varieties and minutely understand the local season and atmospheric conditions. These are the three keys for the drought management, use it all to get good yield and prevent losses,” he signs off.

    ARTICLE CONTINUED - PART II & III
    http://www.agricultureinformation.c...oping-with-water-scarcity-part-2-part-2.6790/
    http://www.agricultureinformation.c...oping-with-water-scarcity-part-2-part-3.6791/


    Contact details:
    Mr. R. Baskaran
    Teynampadugai via Patteswaram, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu: 612703
    Mobile: +91 9442871049
    Email: baskaran.r@gmail.com
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
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