AGRICULTURE

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Agriculture in India is highly vulnerable to climate change especially in rain-fed regions which constitute over 60% of the total cultivable land in the country. Frequent changes in weather patterns have increased risks associated with crops livestock and in turn livelihoods.

Our approach of CLIMATE-RESILIENT AGRICULTURE helps farmers devise a strategy to mitigate these risks, reduce the cost of cultivation, increase productivity and enhance adaptive capacities.

By 2050, the world’s population will have risen to 10 billion, India’s population to 1.7 billion. How will the world feed this rising population without destroying the planet? We believe the answer lies in CLIMATE RESILIENT AGRICULTURE.

System of Crop Intensification

System of Crop Intensification involves soil preparation and management, decreasing crop density per acre and appropriate crop spacing/crop geometry, systematic application of organic inputs and reducing dependence on chemical inputs, spraying of micro-nutrients, and using high quality seeds.

WOTR promotes the SCI method through plot demonstration during Farmer Field Schools where the farmers are exposed to new farming techniques, field demonstrations and coping mechanisms within the context of water scarcity and climate variability. This leads to enhanced crop yields. SCI techniques involve a four-pronged approach which comprises field preparation and management, crop spacing, systematic application of locally prepared organic and biological inputs and micronutrient foliar spray.

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Livestock

Livestock – particularly small ruminants – when managed sustainably act as an effective shock absorber for a significant number of vulnerable communities during times of seasonal stress. In semi-arid regions, with low rainfall and agricultural productivity, livestock rearing can be an activity that sustains livelihoods. Livestock rearing – buffalo, goat, sheep, fisheries, poultry and duck, etc – act as an ‘insurance policy’ for small and marginal farmers. Livestock also helps in providing a source of protein, supplementing the diets of villagers.

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Soil Health

Soil is almost a non-renewable and non-replicable resource. Over exploitation and inappropriate use of soil results in soil erosion, nutrient depletion and many other forms of soil degradation. Climate change exacerbates these effects, particularly during extreme weather events, such as droughts or heavy rainfall. Almost half of India’s territory (147 million hectares) is affected by land degradation caused by water and wind erosion as well as by soil salinisation and acidification due to maladapted agricultural practices or inappropriate irrigation. WOTR’s initiatives help protect and revive degraded soils in order to address the factors hindering sustainable and effective promotion of soil health, and the promotion of water and crop management practices. This is done through various activities like building soil resilience, soil fertility management and rehabilitation; soil testing and Soil Health Cards; crop-specific optimum use of chemical fertilisers and preparation and promotion of organic manures.

Agromet Advisories

Agriculture is weather-dependent at the local level. Yet, currently, farmers do not have access to reliable locally-relevant meteorological and agricultural information to plan and manage their farming operations. It is thus important to provide weather-based, crop-specific advisories to farmers to help in crop planning.

WOTR’s concept of Agro-meteorology uniquely combines locale-specific Met-advisories and Agro-advisories that provide timely information to farmers so that they can plan their agricultural activities accordingly.  It involves advisories that are weather-based, crop and farmer specific, using block-level weather forecasts provided daily by the IMD and dynamic crop weather calendars. Besides the normal objectives that crop-advisories have, such as reducing weather-induced risks and improving farm productivity, these advisories also seek to enhance resilience to climate variability and strengthen the sustainability of farming systems.

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Alignment with International Frameworks

Sustainable Development Goals

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FarmPrecise: ‘Precisely’ what our farmers want, now in an app

Farmers in India traditionally relied—and still rely–on knowledge passed on from one generation to the next, generally through oral traditions. The oral traditions would encompass aspects like how to know which crop to grow in which season, which soil is suited to what crop, when to start sowing and reaping, dealing with changes in weather, how to deal with pests, and so on. Unfortunately, due to the climate crisis and variability of weather patterns, these traditional knowledge systems are now proving inadequate. Farmers require inputs that are of a specialised nature.

Agromet advisory system

This realisation motivated WOTR to pioneer the agromet advisory system of crop and locale-specific mobile advisories sent through Short Messaging Services (SMS) based on the data provided by India’s national weather service—the India Meteorological Department. This service is currently available in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana and has been operational since December 2012. Besides this, WOTR also provides weather advisories in the form of wallpapers; these have been issued since November 2011.

To read more about the FarmPrecise app follow this link: https://bit.ly/306LIT8

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Scale of operations

Extent of agriculture coverage across all states is 402 villages

WOTR has cumulatively reached out to 1,846 villages covering an area of 1,115,218 ha, benefitting 1.88 million people over 25 years

WOTR has been indirectly involved in 200 villages of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, as part of Sustainable Livelihoods and Adaptation to Climate Change (SLACC) project, as knowledge partner

Community-based agro advisories implemented in three states: 103 agromet stations in MP, Maharashtra and Telangana, benefitting 25,847 farmers

323 ha of land covered under System of Crop Intensification benefitting 1,285 farmers in 2017-18

66 Farmers Field Schools benefitting 1,090 farmers. 95 farm exposure visits organised for 1,463 farmers in 2017-18

150 trainings carried out in the preparation of organic formulations for 3,422 farmers in 2017-18

1,448 crop demonstrations organised in 101 villages in 2017-18

In 2017-18, 1,285 farmers adopted SCI on 323 ha

163 farmers adopted SRI (System of Rice Intensification), a variant of SCI

94 villages under SCI

102 fodder demonstrations carried out in 2017-18

1 livestock camp and 3 livestock owner trainings, benefited 111 and 94 farmers respectively

36 beneficiaries of backyard poultry and 151 beneficiaries of goat rearing

25 beneficiaries of pig farming

WOTR is promoting sustainable land management and soil rehabilitation actions through watershed area treatment measures since 1993. These include measure to improve soil health like protecting pasture land, afforestation activities along with the area treatment measures to prevent erosion, and improve soil health.

Over 7,000 soil health cards issued in 2017-18, benefitting 6,053 farmers

Issuing soil health cards and testing facilities under GIZ ProSoil project started in December 2015

3,422 people attended 150 trainings in preparation of organic formulations during 2017-18

Over 1,090 farmers participated in Farmers Field Schools during 2017-18

Improved soil management and rehabilitation led to quantitative improvements in soil quality

First automated weather station installed in Darewadi-Satechiwadi in June 2009

Weather stations cover a total of 209 villages

First SMS-based advisory issued in June 2012

In 2017-18, a total of 4,21,987 agro-advisories sent to 11,577 unique farmers

As of March 2019, WOTR is operating 103 AWS stations in 3 states

Advisories developed in collaboration with CRIDA, MPKV and VNMKV

Feedback collected from farmers in Parbhani indicates productivity improved by 12.41% in cotton, 20.32% in gram and 21.23% in wheat after adopting advisories issued through AGRIMATE systems

WOTR developed an IT-enabled platform for the IMD, the AGRIMET-DSS, to automate the process of generating locale and crop-specific weather-based advisories which is being piloted in Maharashtra for inclusion into the crop-weather advisory generation system in the country

PUBLICATIONS IN FOCUS

SCI

Impact assessment of organic and SCI methods on soybean and wheat cropping sequence in Jalna district, Maharashtra

WOTR has implemented the Pro-Soil project funded by GIZ in 8 villages of Bhokardan taluka of Jalna district in Maharashtra. The primary aim of the project is to promote a sustainable and inclusive approaches for soil conservation, rehabilitation of degraded lands and improve soil health to enhance crop productivity. In these 8 villages, a total of 6,989 ha of land was selected for this project. Based on the soil tests carried out, plot and crop-specific recommendations on nutrient management through organic methods were given to the farmers. It was found that organic techniques in general increase productivity of soybean and wheat crops.

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Cliamte Smart Agriculture

Making agriculture climate smart: A compendium of weather-based advisories for management of paddy, finger millet and summer groundnut in Akole block of Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra

WOTR in collaboration with CRIDA, the State Agriculture University (MPKV) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has prepared a Weather-Based Crop Management plan for 3 major crops in Akole, Maharashtra. In this publication, different scenarios of rainfall and other weather parameters are considered and crop management practices to be followed on weekly basis for entire season are given. This publication recommends adaptive crop management practices under different weather scenarios for improving soil health and farm productivity as well as maintaining the health of the ecosystem.

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Soil Health

Kali Aai Nirogi Tar Ahe Na (काळी आई निरोगी तर आहे ना) ?’

WOTR has prepared a technical manual on soil ‘Kali Aai Nirogi Tar Ahe Na (काळी आई निरोगी तर आहे ना) ?’. This manual in Marathi is aimed at giving farmers an introduction to soil health management. It consists of chapters on soil health; physical, chemical and biological properties of soil, how microflora functions in soil, soil testing, how soil health is affected, importance of organic carbon in the soil, essential elements for plant growth and their deficiency symptoms on plants, methods of preparations of bio-pesticides and organic formulas. The publication recommends various measures to be taken according to the condition of the soil described in the soil health card.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION

To know more, contact nitin.kumbhar@wotr.org.in and prithviraj.gaikwad@wotr.org.in