Overview

As we all are aware, seventy five to eighty per cent of India’s water is used for irrigation. The two main sources of irrigation are canals and groundwater. The relative contribution of canal irrigation has been steadily declining over time while groundwater especially that extracted through tube-wells has rapidly grown in significance over the last 30 years. But the alarming fact is that both these sources of water are now beginning to hit an upper limit. Since, Indian economy is agrarian in nature, scarcity for water will lead to serious socio-economic implications in the country predominantly impacting the small and marginal farm holders who form major proportion of Indian farming population. Scarcity for water, also leads to competition between drinking and irrigation. In other words, continuous drawing of water for irrigation over time without proper replenishment leads to scarcity of water for drinking. It also leads to other associated problems like water pollution, intrusion of minerals etc impacting the health and hygiene of the community. Of late, the agriculture productivity is on the declining trend with more area becoming unfit for cultivation. One of the main reasons is the loss of natural resources like soil, water and associated problem of declining soil fertility.

To prevent the loss of soil and water and to conserve and sustain the natural resources, watershed is being taken up by NAF in several parts of the country. The basic essence of watershed is not only the conservation of natural resources but also the accrued benefits derived out of ground water increase, cropping intensity and improvement in farm productivity. This will not be effective unless the farmers are enriched with technological innovations to improve the use efficiency of conserved resources.

Indian agriculture has come a long way since independence, with a significant increase in food production but not without some environmental degradation. In the quest for improving the yields to meet the ever increasing population, the Indian agriculture has resorted to intensive farming with disproportionate use of inputs and resources. (For example India’s use of pesticides is 76 per cent as against the world average of 44 per cent.) Such situations have led to lowering yields, creation of problem soils, disturbance of bio diversity and other related environmental concerns. “Lean Farming Model”, a process innovation by NAF with a holistic approach to farm production systems, including judicious combination of organic, bio and inorganic inputs has been found to be effective in addressing the issues mentioned above while simultaneously improving the economic and environmental performance of the farmers in a sustainable manner.

Focus areas:
  • Soil & Water conservation
  • Lean Farming
  • Afforestation & Biodiversity conservation

Soil and Water conservation

Thematic
Thematic
Thematic
Thematic

To create a sustainable ecosystem for agriculture as well as community at large, critical natural resources like Soil and water, must be kept in harmony with the environment. But unfortunately at present the scarcity for land and water is increasing at an alarming rate, due to rapid industrialization and urbanisation on one hand, and input-intensive ( land,water,fertilisers) agricultural practices like flood irrigation ( canal and tube wells ) and deforestation on the other hand. Furthermore, changing climate and/or weather patterns are exacerbating these challenges in many ways. Drawing water for irrigation without proper replenishment leads to multiple issues like ground water depletion, drinking water scarcity, water pollution, intrusion of minerals etc leading to adverse impact on public health, land degradation as well as declining soil fertility , which in turn leads to loss in agricultural productivity.

NAF believes that one of the most effective strategies to address these interlinked issues is to develop a Watershed and Natural Resource Management Programme, which could restore the ecological balance by harnessing, conserving and developing degraded natural resources such as soil, vegetative cover and water. Accordingly, comprehensive watershed programs have been taken up by NAF in several parts of the country in collaboration with various corporate / Govt.Bodies/NGOs.

To ensure sustainable Natural Resource Management, through its various watershed interventions, NAF aims at creating a balance between the supply side interventions and demand side alternatives. While the supply-side interventions focuses on creation of watershed infrastructures, the demand-side management focuses on minimizing the usage of water and soil fertility improvement, by improving the water use efficiency ,water productivity, comprehensive soil health management and environment friendly Sustainable Agriculture. It integrates human needs within ecological limits, and, then work backwards to find feasible means to meet long-term social and economic aspirations. At the core of this process are structural changes that embed conservation, complemented by resource conserving technologies and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).

Methods of Soil and Water Conservation:
  • In situ-conservative measures like - Chisel plough, Disc plough, Summer plough, Land levelling , creation of bunds-Field bund, Contour bund, Stone bund, Earthen bund, Nala bund, Pipe out let , creation of Trenches-Contour trench, Staggered trench, Trench cum bund , creation of Pond-Farm pond, Cattle pond, Percolation pond, Sunken pond, Well recharge pit .
  • Channel Rejuvenation -Channel cleaning, Channel formation, Silt drop structure.
  • Few engineering measures - water absorption trenches, continuous contour trenches Gully plug, Loose rock check dam, Gabion check dam, Brush wood check dam, Log check dam, Check dam.
  • Green Cover - Under green cover initiatives, afforestation programs like tree planting with timber trees, fruit trees, soil binders, pasture development etc would also be carried out.
Key achievements:
  • Out of 14764 hectares of total treatment area 6500 hectares have been treated benefiting to 16940 families.
  • 55 water bodies have been rejuvenated with additional capacity of water holding to 13 million lakh litres.
  • Water level improved in wells and open wells from 3m to 10m
  • 648 hectares of fallow land has been brought in to cultivation
  • Cropping intensity has been doubled in 352 hectares.
  • Agriculture productivity improved to 150% in demo fields and 120% of average increase.

Special initiatives as part of Chennai Flood Rehabilitation Program

Plant Tissue Culture Laboratory for Biodiversity Conservation

During December 2015, Tamil Nadu State experienced an unprecedented flood situation with incessant rainfalls. Apart from Chennai, many rural areas in Tamil Nadu including the agriculture-rich coastal districts of Cuddalore, Tiruvallur, Kanchipuram and Thoothukudi districts suffered extensively in the floods. One of the impacts of floods was that the water bodies of villages including lakes, tanks and water ways like drainage channel etc. got severely damaged due to heavy flow of water.

Keeping in view of the above, National Agro Foundation (NAF) in collaboration with various organizations including San Francisco Bay Area Tamil Manram (SABATM), BNY Mellon , Bahwan Cyber Tek etc., undertook repair works of traditional water bodies affected by the floods in the rural parts of Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur Districts in order to rehabilitate them for future use. The focus was predominantly on repairing of boundaries of water bodies as well as clearing the drainage channels so that future flow of water can be regulated and the cropped area can be prevented from inundation.

Location I – Chinnakalakadi
Intervention: Lake strengthening and Channel Formation
Before intervention
Thematic
Thematic
after intervention
Thematic
Thematic

Lean Farming

NABARD–NAF Pilot Initiative on “Farm Productivity Improvement through Comprehensive Technology Transfer, Training and Capacity Building Initiatives” in Tamilnadu

This project, sanctioned under NABARD’s Technology Transfer Fund (FTTF), was implemented by NAF during 2010- 2013. The project activities were implemented in six blocks of Kancheepuram District which have agriculture potential. Project activities included Comprehensive soil analysis for integrated nutrient management and setting up and handholding of frontline demonstration farms covering elements of lean farming; formation and nurturing of Farmers Clubs/ Joint Liability Groups; establishing model seed villages / model nursery units/ model vermi-composting units; Training and Capacity building; and formation of a Producer Group Company as a culmination of our efforts for empowering the farmers and institution building for their prosperity. More than 6000 farmers benefited from this project.

Pilot Project on “Lean Farming for Crop Productivity Improvement” In Colllabaration with TNAU
Agricultural Development
Agricultural Development
Agricultural Development
Agricultural Development

TN State Planning Commission supported project was implemented by NAF in partnership with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University during 2014- 2016. The project aimed at improving the yields of various crops using “Lean Farming” methods implemented in olakur block of Villupuram District covering 30 villages. 60 Frontline Demonstrations ( FLDs) @ 2 per 30 villages were established to study the efficacy of lean farming technologies under different crops viz., Paddy, brinjal, mariegold, groundnut, clusterbeans, watermelon, bottle gourd tube rose, cockscomb and snake gourd, to access the lean farming technological interventions at farmer’s field, to spread the lean farming technology, to create awareness about lean farming technologies among the farmers and to identify the gap for lagging behind the usage of lean farming technologies.

The study revealed that in all 60 farmers of olakur block were tested the soils, adopted seed treatment and applied fertilizers(Bio-organic and inorganic) as per soil test recommendations received .used recommended model of insect traps ,fixed bird perches ( to stay bird and to eat larvaes) and used other organic pest control measures such as panchakavya spray and Ginger garlic solution spray. Overall in paddy, maximum yield received 40 bag/ac and the lowest yield recorded in 25 bag/ac in Demonstration .In respect of overall yield increase in paddy due to adoption of lean farming practices 10-29.6% . With regard to profit of paddy, profit increase ranges from 40 - 226.5 %.. in expenses, 10-12 % lesser expense than control noticed .

In Groundnut crop, The yield varies from 19-26 bags/ac,14-46% of yield increase over control observed, expenses lowered upto 33.4% in demonstration. The overall profit increase in groundnut due to adoption of lean farming technology ranges from 40-143% .

In watermelon demonstration, yield varies from 24-26 tonnes , and it is 20-30 % increased yield over control, with regard to expenses, 12% - 35% decreased expenses than control observed .Regarding Bhendi crop, the yield increase noticed from 21-57% than conventional method .The yield increase was mainly due to adoption of lean farming technologies.

In Cockscomb cultivation,25-41% higher yield observed, and profit increase ranges from 51-109 %.In respect of bottle gourd ,noticed 18.7% increased yield and 64% more profit than conventional method of cultivation.14% decreased expenses noticed due to adoption of lean farming technologies and in Onion cultivation,65% increased profit recorded.

In chillies,22% of yield increase observed, 27% profit improved and expenses reduced by 7% in demonstration. Significant increase in yields noticed in crops like clusterbeans,mariegold,snake gourd brinjal and groundnut crops.

Pilot project on “Transfer of Lean Farming Technologies for Sustainable Farm Productivity Improvement in Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu”:
Agricultural Development
Agricultural Development
Agricultural Development
Agricultural Development
Agricultural Development

In collaboration with Central Leather Research Institute ( CLRI) {Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)}, NAF implemented a pilot project On “Improving Livelihood Of People Below The Poverty Line By Augmenting Income And Quality Of Lives In Cuddalore District Of Tamilnadu (Impact)” . Project activities mainly included capacity building, technology transfer and extension services on Lean Farming practices. 10 Frontline Demonstrations @ 2 per 5 village were established for different crops including Gingelly ,maize ,Green gram, Watermelon, Black gram, Groundnut, Bhendi . Under Frontline Demonstrations, following services were offered:

  • Comprehensive soil testing and prescriptions for Site Specific Nutrient Management (SSNM). This included testing the soil profile for general fertility determining parameters like pH, Electrical Conductivity, Organic Matter Status, Cation Exchange Capacity, % Base Saturation and chemical parameters like Major nutrients viz., Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Secondary nutrients like Calcium, Magnesium and Sulfur and Micronutrients such as Zinc, Manganese, Iron, Copper and Boron
  • Integrated Pest and Disease Management advisory
  • Resource Conserving Technologies (RCTs) like water management, weed management and measures to improve the resource use efficiency
  • Critical inputs such as secondary and micronutrients, traps, bio hormones and bio fertilizers, natural plant protection materials such as Panchakavya are provided to the farmers free of cost
  • Technical expertise was made available at the farm level for the lead farmers who establish FLDs for the entire period of cropping as handholding services.
Results:

The results of the Lean Farming project in terms of Frontline Demonstrations were encouraging. The area under demonstration was 6.45 acres and the area under control was 6.65 acres spread over 5 villages covering 10 farmers. The average increase in yield for all crops put together was 85.01% and the average increase in profit was 139.06%.

  • The average per acre profit was Rs.38,198/- in the demonstration farms where the lean farming technologies were practiced whereas the average per acre profit was Rs.15,977/- in control plots where the farmers conventional technologies were followed. The summary of results of demonstration farms are attached as annexure ------.
DST supported “Popularization of integrated pest management and soil health management technologies for sustainable crop productivity improvement among small and medium farmers in Tamil Nadu”

Department of Science and Technology, GoI supported project was implemented by NAF in three blocks of Kancheepuram District, TN during 2013-2015. Project activities included establishment of frontline demonstration farms (FLD) and training the farming community on “Integrated crop management technologies”. Crop nutrient management advisory based on Comprehensive soil analysis were provided. Critical inputs like micro nutrients and pest control materials were also facilitated. There was substantial increase in crop yields due to adoption of these integrated soil and pest management strategy.

Afforestation and Biodiversity

Thematic
Thematic
Thematic

In its endeavour to maintain the ecological balance and to enable sustainable natural resource management, NAF is undertaking various participatory afforestation and biodiversity conservation programmes covering vast tracts of land in and around its project locations. Programmes are designed according to the geographical features and climatic conditions. Species are selected on the basis of their adaptability and availability NAF’s environmental restoration efforts are further strengthened by the support of employees from various corporate , who are enthusiastically participating in our afforestation activities on voluntarily basis.

The bio-diversified afforestation and horticulture activities mainly include agro-forestry, backyard plantation, and establishment of nurseries among others. The main horticulture crops include Mango, Sapota, Sweet Lime, Lemon, Amla, Jack and Guava etc. As part of Agro-forestry we are promoting plantation of Teak,Gamhar ( Tamil name-Kumizh),Pongam , Jatropha, Tamarind, Jamun, Silver Oak, Wild neem, Indian Tulip Tree( Tamil name-Poovarasan) etc.

NAFs’ afforestation initiatives have benefited the target locations in manifold ways like increase in soil microbial biomass, increase in greenery, avoidance of desertification, increase in ground water table, increase in precipitation, prevention of soil erosion, clean air etc.

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