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

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    Mr. Natabar Sarangi

    Offers drought resistant seeds and good soil management as solution for farming in dry spell

    “Water is the most important element in farming. Agreed! But there are solutions offered in the nature for difficult moments like drought. With good soil management and use of drought resistant paddy seeds it is very much possible to grow food and generate revenues,” asserts Mr. Natabar Sarangi, 83, Seed Farmer. He hails from Narisho village, Niali tehsil, Cuttack, Odisha.
    Natabar Sarangi.jpg
    Mr. Natabar Sarangi

    Mr. Sarangi insists on using native seeds for farming to cope with drought. “The production performance of indigenous seeds has the history of more than 10,000 years unlike the new age human-crafted seeds for past 50-60 years. There are more than 100 seeds that have the potential to survive the drought. Do not doubt the integrity of the nature!” he emphasizes. The drought resistant seed varieties are ratanachuri, bhaluchatta, sapha, sadhakia, bhojawani, polakeri, sohara and sahabhagi dhan. All these are short duration paddy crops that survive is very less water or even in the soil moisture. Amongst all he talks about sohara and sahabhagi dhan.

    Sohara paddy seeds germinate very well in the farmland where natural farming methodologies are practiced. “In the field where no chemicals are used, sohara gives excellent results only through the soil moisture. It matures in 100 days. The yield obtained is 10-12 qunital from one acre. Besides it is rich in medicinal properties. Particularly it has rich protein content that makes it excellent for growth and development of young children,” he states.
    Mr. Natabar Sarangi in his paddy fields.jpg

    Speaking about Sahabhagi Dhan he says, “This variety can be grown directly in the soil using broadcasting method that means the seeds are seeded directly in farm fields. It germinated even when the fields get water after 20-25 days.” It is possible to intercrop this paddy variety along with legumes namely chick pea, lentil etc or rapeseed or linseed. “Double crops definitely would give better revenues to the farmer.”

    Planting the seeds with the right technique and taking care of soil also plays a vital role in farming under drought conditions. Sharing his technique of paddy cultivation he says, “I prefer broadcasting method of cultivation. In this method field is prepared and puddled just like in the case of transplanting. About 100 kg seed is required for one hectare area. In the puddled field sprouted seeds with radical length of one to two millimeter are uniformly broadcast by hand. The weeds should be removed manually too.” In addition to seeds good soil management is also very important for fighting drought.

    With continuous use of chemical fertilizer, herbicides and weedicides along with unstoppable concrete construction everywhere the soil surface has become very hard. “So the water flows off and doesn’t seeps inside the farmland. This can be repaired only by using desi cow urine and dung based manure in the soil extensively to multiply the population of numerous micro organism. It not only will make the soil porous that improves water retention ability but also recharge the groundwater naturally. In addition is it mandatory to leave 10-15 inch of stalk of paddy in the field. It rejuvenates the soil. These practices are the best preventive measure for pest and diseases attack that occurs during the dry periods,” he shares. It has been proved that increasing organic matter is the best way to make soil more resistant to drought and able to cope better with less and more erratic rainfall. “High quantity of organic matter in the soil conserves water in the root zone and increase water-use efficiency. On priority every farmer must increase the organic matter in the soil as much as possible. In this way he can prepare his farmland beforehand to take the benefits of the rain showers that happen anytime during the dry periods.”

    Post retirement from a teaching job, Mr. Sarangi is full time engaged in farming activities. Conserving indigenous paddy seeds and promoting zero-budget natural are his two prime interest areas. All the work is done independently without any assistance from government or NGOs. He has been successful in collecting and preserving 542 indigenous paddy varieties. These seeds are diverse in nature with respect to its features. “No two seed varieties are similar! It varies with yield, taste, medicinal properties, nutritional content and so on. Some of them are drought, flood and water logging resistant. It is a very rare collection of desi seeds. I distribute and exchange these seeds with farmers belonging to different states in India. More than 100 farmers residing in local district take seeds from my seed bank for cultivation and promise to return four kg seeds after their harvest,” he shares.

    He encourages farmers to stay away from the market for purchasing farming inputs and practice native cow based farming. In order to reach more farmers showing them the right path to farming he has set up ‘Desi Dhana Chasa Gabesana Kendra’ near Kundhei Canal side in Niali. At the center hands-on training is imparted to farmers on all zero-budget natural farming techniques. It also acts a research laboratory where Mr. Sarangi has developed new types of organic manures, including vermicompost, cowdung compost, farmyard compost, and water hyacinth compos.

    In time to come he wants to preserve 100 more varieties by end of this year and in the long run take the count of 542 indigenous paddy seeds in his seed bank to 1000. Mr. Sarangi concludes, “Natural farming based on desi cow with indigenous varieties of rice sought is the only answer to save farmer, consumer, soil, water, and environment.”

    Contact details:
    Mr. Natabar Sarangi
    Phone: +91 9937620883
    Last edited: May 29, 2017

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