CYSD has been promoting sustainable agriculture practices and its adoption by the small and marginal holder agricultural farmers of the State by focusing on need based interventions having implication on the policy practice changes through constant engagement with various stakeholders in the power structure.
The emphasis of intervention modus operandi has been to develop low cost and sustainable models through intensive engagement at the field locations and their demonstration in Rural Livelihood Training Centers (RLTCs) of CYSD, taking inputs from the agricultural research institutes and other experts and finally influencing the power structure for pro-poor policy practice changes and its wider replication. Following are a few sustainable agriculture practices being promoted by CYSD:
Use of excessive water, chemical fertilizers and pesticides has damaged the eco-system equilibrium. Emphasis on productivity oriented extension systems has led to monoculture of crops and varieties. Climate change has led to increasing water scarcity adding further to the existing woes of the small and marginal farmers. The need of the hour is to adopt measures that consumes less water, fertilizers and other inputs and maximizes production whereby benefiting the farmer, economy and ecosystem at large. In this context, System of Rice Intensification (SRI) comes like a boon for the farmers. SRI, based on sound ecological and agronomical principles not only reduces water consumption by about 40% but also seed rate to 2kg/acre. Indeed, it is a paradigm shift in the way rice cultivation is practiced. It has proved to produce higher yield and best suited for organic production systems.
CYSD has been taking up sustainable agriculture promotion, particularly SRI with the members of producer groups since 2008-09. The members leverage credit through their respective SHGs to take up this activity. CYSD has facilitated the capacity building of these farmers to adopt the new technology for paddy cultivation through on-site training and demonstration in the respective Rural Livelihood Training Centers (RLTC). CYSD has also played a crucial role in convergence of these farmers with relevant government programmes for access to inputs and services. Building on the successful experience in SRI, CYSD intends to continue this cropping technique for paddy as well as other crops on a wider scale in all the operational districts.
One of the many practice changes that CYSD intends to bring in agriculture to make it sustainable is the use of organic manure and pest management. Excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides leads to deterioration in soil quality in the long run, although it gives very good immediate results. Thus CYSD is committed to improving soil quality, safety of products and also reducing the health risks of farmers through promotion of Bio and vermi-compost units to generate bio-fertilizer for organic farming. This is further supported by techniques such as crop selection and rotation. Farmers are trained and given demonstrations on the preparation and use of different types of organic compost, manure and pesticides. Compost Models are cost effective technological innovations initiated by CYSD as its preparation is usually done using local material such as normal wastes, crop residues, forest wastes and cow dung. Effort is also made to bring convergence with Government departments for bringing in technical knowledge and other support in popularizing the use of organic compost and pest management techniques.
One of the ways in which the value of land as a resource can be raised for the tribals is to go for crop diversification. It’s a known fact that most of the tribals depend on agriculture as the major source of income. Agriculture being mainly rain-fed, the land remains fallow for
the rest of the season, leading to huge under-utilization of the land. Agriculture remains largely at the subsistence level, just adequate enough to meet the food security needs of the people. It is this scenario that has made CYSD to work towards enhancing the status of agriculture from subsistence to a profitable and sustainable venture by strengthening the knowledge system at the grassroots and by introducing crop diversification. CYSD has helped farmers to go for crops other than paddy like vegetables, oil seeds and also horticulture to increase the income from the same piece of land. For this, effort has also been made to provide irrigation facilities through small ponds or micro-lift irrigation facilities. The farmers are now able to get returns from their land throughout the year and their nutritional status has also improved due to the increased intake of vegetables in their food.
Horticulture is a good option when it comes to sustainable use of uplands, cultivable waste land etc. CYSD promotes horticulture both in uplands and backyard to make economic use of land and also to ensure a good return to the farmers after a certain gestation period. A variety of horticulture initiatives are undertaken to promote a wide range of crops suitable for cultivation under different agro-climatic conditions. Using a range of crops allows the possibility of multiple cropping thereby enhancing returns per unit of land, generating employment and ensuring year-round food security to them. Support is provided in the form of saplings through convergence with the Horticulture department and by promoting community orchards. The backyard plantation like drumstick, papaya etc. also helps in improving the nutritional intake of the people.
Land development is an integral part of CYSD’s activities to arrest surface run-offs, reduce soil erosion and increase the productivity of land. This includes land leveling, bunding etc. In many of the operational areas, this activity has been linked with the MGNREGS to create employment of the people as well as to enhance the value of land in terms of fertility and production.
In order to make agriculture sustainable, irrigation facility is a must. CYSD promotes drought proofing measures like 5% model, 30-40 model etc. for irrigation as well as to conserve and re-charge ground water. Micro-lift irrigation facilities are also provided at places where there are perennial sources of water. Provision of irrigation facility helps the farmers to cultivate throughout the year and since water remains throughout the year in ponds that are located on the drainage line, it can also be used for pisci-culture and to irrigate paddy in case of erratic rainfall.
Micro-watershed Management focuses on conserving soil and water resources to achieve sustained agricultural production, while minimizing risk to natural resources, drought-proofing land and reducing degradation, thereby increasing feasible livelihood options for the community. Low cost micro watershed models are demonstrated and promoted to the government for replication in the state. Training is also imparted to the watershed users on planning and building micro-water harvesting structures like check dams, percolation tanks and farm pondsaccording to the conditions of their local terrain. Farm Pond and small water harvesting structures are some of the alternative rain-fed techniques used in case of non-availability of water in the locality. Watershed is used as the planning unit with land treatment measures like bio-manuring, check-dams, bunding etc. undertaken under it as an integrated approach. In this process the villagers usually contributes the required labor, and use the local materials.
CYSD undertakes field training, and conducts workshops and exposure visits on methods such as mixed cropping, the preparation and use of organic fertilizers, upland paddy cultivation, and watershed management, with lead trainers selected to provide constant support to other farmers in their areas.
Research and Advocacy
CYSD relies upon evidence based research to influence policies in favor of the community people. A few of the research publications include Social and Economic Justice of Farmers, Farmers access to Credit, Farmers access to market facilities, Farmers access to Minimum support price, Nutritional Surveillance etc.
Grassroots Reach-out and Networking in India on Trade and Economics (GRANITE) was an awareness generation and capacity building project being undertaken by Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS) in eight states, viz. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, in partnership with civil society organizations working at the grassroots. CYSD was the State partner of CUTS for implementing the project in Odisha. The Project was being supported by Royal Norwegian Embassy, New Delhi and Oxfam India.
The overall goal of this project was to foster equity and accountability in economic governance in India, in the context of the impact of globalization on the livelihoods of the poor and marginalized sections of society, through generation of economic literacy and a more coherent civil-society voice. The focus of this project was on the National Foreign Trade Policy (NFTP) of India. CYSD had undertaken product specific research on organic spices and Niger to study the impact of trade liberalization on the export of these products and whether it has led to employment generation at the grassroots as a result of increase in export of these products. The project also involved interface of the community with policy makers to influence NFTP in their favor.