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BLENDING CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE PRACTICES AND AGRIBUSINESS APPROACHES

BLENDING CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE PRACTICES AND AGRIBUSINESS APPROACHES IN DIVERSIFIED AGRICULTURE LIVELIHOOD SYSTEMS IN RAWAIN REGION OF DISTRICT UTTARKASHI (UTTARAKHAND)

ABSTRACT

In the newly formed hilly state of Uttarakhand, a majority of families, in both the farm and non-farm sectors, are dependenton agriculture to earn their livelihood. Sustainability of agriculture and livelihood sector in these regions areinterlinked here and cannot be defined in isolation. Under climatic conditions of Uttarakhand, diversity in agriculture or alternate economically viable livelihood options have to be analysed and any successful implementation needs to be replicated.

“Diversity in agriculture” is the new slogan in livelihoods approaches. An ideal blending of modern technologies of cultivation in farming with traditional practices and culture have changed the economic scenario of farmers in many villages of the state. Integrated farming systems practiced in horticulture and agriculture under changing climatic conditions have addressed complex rural community development problems and enhanced the commodity value. Harnessing the power of organic cultivation practices, modern irrigation systems and advanced soil health management practices can boost all the agri-horti practices as an alternate economically viable livelihood option for marginal farmers in hill farming system.

This paper draws upon years’ long action research in Rawain region of district Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand. It offers a review of key interventions done by Himalayan Action Research centre (HARC) and its adoption in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand for sustainable rural development along with the challenges of such approaches. In line with the future, this paper throws a light on a number of core field challenges to be addressed for livelihoods perspectives, andthis paper identifies different livelihood strategies such asagribusiness at farmers’ federation, floriculture development, knowing your soils and blending of organic techniques to minimize gaps between soil and plant health, etc.

In addition to off season vegetable cultivation, floriculture is an alternate source of income for hill people. In prevailing environmental conditions, Chrysanthemum andLilium have huge potential in hill farming system as these haveself-propagating properties and show quality flower production. These flower crops are short duration crops and act as an alternate source of income to the farmers having small land holding and facing the issues of wild animals and grazing incidences.

The climate change is one of the factors that has reduced temperate fruit production in hilly area of Uttarakhand. Chilling requirement of temperate fruits is not fulfilled, resulting in their low yield. Mostly planting material propagated in state nurseries are not virus indexed and are of poor quality. Farmers’ lack of knowledge on orchard management also results in decline in production. Eighty percent of the existing orchards are produced from seedlings and hence, lack marketable quality. Efforts have been made to address this issue, so that the quality planting material can be made available with best package of practices. Low chilling varieties of apple have been top grafted on the existing meritorious trees and dwarfing rootstocks have been propagated by HARC in a tissue culture lab, located at the centre of the apple cultivation belt in Uttarkashi.

Under commercial horticulture systems, farmers often confuse the nutrient deficiency symptoms with disease incidents. This leads to increased production cost because of use of fungicides and disease management practices.Ithas devastating effects on the natural resources and soil. Soil fertility maps help in knowing the roles of macro and micro nutrients of soil, in vegetative and reproductive growth of the plants,which is an important factor in deciding the income from farmlands. These can be used as reference material for crop planning and calculating fertilizer application to sustain yield. Strategies for soil testing, development of soil fertility maps, and their usefulness in future endeavourshave also been discussed.

Present paper also emphasizes on agribusiness approaches adopted in Rawain region and its operational strategies adopted by farmer’s federation, which also act as an umbrella to bring together agriculture, services,and marketing for the socio-economic development of marginal community of the region.

All these approaches have resulted into climate change adaptation in the region and  minimum to no migration from villages of Rawain region.

Keywords:action research, floriculture, Uttarakhand, soil health, temperature horticulture

 

 

  1. INTRODUCTION

Agribusiness is a broad term encompassing all aspects of agricultural production, processing and distribution (Kakade et.al, 2014). It is a process and product of applying economics, in business and development of agriculture. In Agribusiness, efforts are made to modernise and diversify agricultural operations using commercial approach and managerial expertise. Hence, it is an umbrella term to bring together agriculture, manufacturing, and services for the sake of socio-economic integration and development.

In Himalayan range of Uttarakhand, the history of agriculture involves a continuous series of adaptations to a wide range of factors. Environmental conditions related to soil, water, terrain, and climate impose constraints and provide opportunities for agricultural production, while technological developments lead to modifications in the structure and processes of farming operations. Likewise, market factors related to input costs and prices have a dramatic effect on what commodities are produced and how and where production takes place. Public policies and programs are also major elements influencing the agri-food sector.

The process of having good market value produce starts from quality planting material.Tissue culture is the most advance technology for producing virus free planting material. Partnering with Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Uttarakhand state Council of Science and Technology (UCOST), a tissue culture lab was established in 2009 at HARC Naugaon, It is now fulfilling the demand of quality planting material of potato and apple rootstocks.

 

  1. METHODOLOGY

The base of interventions or methodology was designed onthe foundation of farmer’sparticipation, and gathering them into institutions for sustainability of this methodology.

The overall objective behind the interventions is to develop agri-based replicable and adaptive approaches for promoting sustainable livelihood in marginal and remote areas of Rawain region of Uttarkashi district, through collection and blending of tested technologies in modern farming system pertaining to climate change.

Table 1.Climatology, geology and physiography of Uttarkashi district (Uttarakhand, India)
Average annual rainfall (mm) (year 2010 to 17) 429 mm
Average annual temperature 0C (year 2010 to 17) 29.33
Maximum 32.33
Minimum 21.77
Climate classification Sub temperate to temperate region
Parent material Dissected hills and valley
Height from M.S.L (m) 1400 to 2000
Lithology Quartzite/garnet schist and migmatite
Physiography Hills
Type of soil Sandy loam
Source www.worldweatheronline.com  and other anonymous sources

It is also noteworthy that in India, due to lack of technologies related to quality seeds, fertilisers, irrigation and good agricultural practices, farmers find it very difficult to enhance their productivity. There is an urgent need to develop innovative technologies related to agricultural inputs, such as quality seeds (mainly climate-resilient varieties), fertilisers, and improved irrigation equipment (Saurabh Kumar and Aparna Sharma, 2016)

Following is a description of intervention and their adaptation by the marginal farmers over a period of ten years i.e. from 2008-2018.

Major interventions areaswere as follows

  1. Producing quality produce for market by minimizing gaps between soil and plant health through organic techniques
  2. Promoting high value floriculture crops in existing crop cycle
  3. Rejuvenation of old orchards by top grafting with climate resilient and market oriented low chilling varieties of apple
  4. Soil fertility mapping of the region to ensure future strategies on soil health management system
  5. Agribusiness promotion through collective approach of production and marketing,including value chain and highland-lowland linkages

 

  1. Producing quality produce for market by minimizing gaps between soil and plant health through organic techniques

First of all, through soil health campaigns, farmers were given orientation on the significance of soil testing, methods of taking soil from vegetable and horticulture field and labelling of soil samples. Soil samples were also collected with the help of trained paratechs at field level. All the soil samples were taken into soil testing lab located at HARC Naugaon, where testing for 6 parameters (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, soil pH, soil Electrical conductivity and organic carbon) were done. A unique ID was given to the each farmer for tracking it in future. Soil health cards developed were distributed to the farmers with crop specific recommendations. In this whole process, IEC materials on soil health were disseminated to the farmers in Hindi language for their better understanding. Bulk SMS were also floated among farmers. Well rotten farm yard manure (FYM), Phosphate solubilizing bacteria (PSB), Azotobactor and Shivansh khaad were tested and trialled for its application potential. Lab analysis of FYM and Shivansh khaad were also conducted for nutrient analysis.

  1. Promoting high value floriculture crops in existing crop cycle

In the existing crop cycle at Rawain region of Uttarkashi district, there are no cash crops in the field during the months of October &November, which hinders their income flow from the market during peak festival season in Hindu culture like Navratri, Dashahra and Diwali as well as the marriage seasons. Chrysanthemum and Lilium were selected to be introduced in this area to ensure their availability during peak festival season. These flowers are adaptive to harsh conditions of cold and drought and non-prone to grazing by domestic and wild animals. Moreover farmers can propagate the seed and planting material for future which ensures the sustainability for adaptation. Training programs were organised for farmers from seed sowing to its complete cultivation practices including suitable harvesting stage preferred by the market. Various exposures to the commercial production site and markets like Delhi have also proven very motivational in this venture.

  1. Rejuvenation of old orchards by top grafting with climate resilient and market oriented low chilling varieties of apple

It was initiated with identification of meritorious trees in the region. The meritorious trees, not more than 15 years old, were top grafted with the low chilling cultivars of apple like Super Chief, Scarlet Spur II, and pollinators like Gale Gala. A league of trained farmers called Paratechs, were given trainings and practical field exposures on top grafting techniques for rejuvenation of old orchards. Over the course of this activity, more than 4000 trees were top grafted with new varieties of apple.

  1. Soil fertility mapping of region to ensure future strategies on soil health management system

A detailed soil fertility status of the Rawain region including Banaland Yamuna valley were investigated during 2015-17, and soil related crop production constraints were identified for proper utilization of farm land. Over 2000 samples from 27 villages were collected from surface soil (0-15cm). Samples were analysed for mechanical composition including pH, EC, OC, available N, P, and K. Based on the results of these samples, soil fertility maps were designed.

  1. Agribusiness promotion through collective approach of production and marketing including value chain and highland-lowland linkages

A decade ago, marketable harvests were a bottleneck of supply chain system in the region, because of small and scattered landholding of the farmers. All the steps of different value chains including sequence from the process of production up to the forward linkages of market were analysed. Seeing the potential of the region, the focus was more on the commercialization rather than feeding local needs. Vegetable crops of both rabi and kharif season were targeted for cash crop cultivation.We focussed on necessary aspects of technologies, services, facilities, and market linkages. Various aspects of highland-lowland linkages were shared with farmers’ federations including all the norms for different farm produces like quality planting material for quality produce, better packaging material and techniques, suitable transport/logistic, and market channels, etc.

  1. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS

There is a considerable variationobserved in the quality of flowers produced every year. And, apparently, the farmers cannot learn all the marketable knowledge pertaining to grading and packaging in the initial years. Hence, during initial years of production under our program, the production costs were higher due to the high price of planting material. There were also small yields in the first two years. The important things that made up this cost components were poor crop management, improper harvesting stage and packaging. In the next year, cost of planting material was reduced by over 30 % due to self-propagation of planting material.

 

Table 2. Income statistics of Chrysanthemum and Lilium per Nali (200 sq. meter were found as follows)
 

Aspect

Chrysanthemum Lilium
Purnima White Star Pavia Ercalano
Number of plants per unit area (200 sq. meter) 1000 1000 800 800
Cost of planting material (only for first year) Rs 7000 Rs 8000 Rs 12000 Rs 12000
Yield per year/season 200 kg 180 kg 800 sticks 800 sticks
Average sale price in first year Rs 60/kg Rs 50/kg Rs 12/stick Rs 15/stick
Average sale price in second year Rs 70/kg Rs 60/kg Rs 15/stick Rs 18/stick
Average sale price in third year Rs 70/kg Rs 60/kg Rs 15/kg Rs 20/stick

 

The institutional requirements to ensure inclusiveness of resource-poor farmers in agricultural value chains should be examined (Anjanikumaret.al.,2011).  Here in the   Rawain regions,   institutions like farmers’ federations were provided with the skilled farmers for grading, sorting and packaging   of fresh materials.

 

Fig 1. Producer driven pro poor value chain approach for vegetable crops

Giving an example of tomato crop, which ranks higher among all cash crops in Rawain region, there was a price share variation of 313% between farmer and consumer (Rs. 8 at the farmer’s and Rs. 25 at consumer end). And the mediator share was 24%, reducing farmer’s share to 32 percent only. By establishing region specific collection centres at different locations, this 24 % was added to farmer’s share. With these interventions, farmer’s share has increased to 56 %

 

Fig 3. Soil fertility map of Yamunacluster in Rawain Region of Uttarkashi district
Fig 2.  Soil fertility map of Banalcluster in Rawain Region of Uttarkashi district

Based on the analysis of over 2000 soil sample testing from year 2016-17 in Rawain region, soil fertility maps were formulated, which clearly shows that the soil is still in moderately good condition for all six parameters studied, except deficiency of nitrogen in some parts of Rawain region.

 

 

HARC study also examines the use of cattle manure as a land improvement technology, where lab testing results of the well rotten FYM shows good presence of micro and macro nutrients needed along with the inherent water holding capacity and reduction in soil erosion. Shivans hkhaad technology is currently being promoted in some selected parts of the Rawain regions. Report data shows that manure from this technique also contains good amount of nutrients and beneficial microorganisms. Existing and future local development interventions should focus on these factors to improve the farmers’ capability to invest in cattle manure application and sustainable land management.

 

Table 3. Lab test report of Well rotten FYM
S. N. Test Parameter Measurement Unit Test Method Test Result
1 Available Nitrogen (as N) mg/kg Manual of soil analysis by Govt. of India 103.81
2 Available Phosphorus (as P) mg/kg 9.01
3 Available Potassium (as K) mg/kg 259.92
4 Available Calcium (as Ca) mg/kg 294.71
5 Total Calcium (as Ca) g/100g ICP-AES 29.67
6 Total Magnesium (as mg) g/100g 4.05
7 Available Magnesium (as Mg) mg/kg Wet Classical method 128.14
8 Sulphur (as S) g/100g Wet Classical method 0.19
9 Boron (as Fe) g/100g ICP-AES 0.08
10 Copper (as Cu) g/100g 0.002
11 Iron (as Fe) g/100g 0.05
12 Molybdenum (as Mo) g/100g ND*
13 Silicon (as Si) g/100g Wet Classical method 5.09
14 Zinc (as Zn) g/100g ICP-AES 0.002
15 Nitrifying bacteria MPN/g APHA 22nd  edition 23 X 102
16 Sulphate reducing bacteria MPN/g IS 1622-1981 140 X 102
*ND not detected
Source: reference ALPL/2017-18/Offer/B-2010 (revised) sigma test and research centre (January, 2016)

 

Table 4. Lab test report of shivansh khaad
S.N.           Test  Parameter Test method Result
Sample 1 Sample 2
1. Total Organic Carbon % by mass Bio fertilizers and organic fertilizers in fertilizers (control) order 1985 16.81 16.2
2. Total Nitrogen,% by  weight 0.90 0.96
3 Total phosphate (as P205),% by weight 1.47 0.92
4 Total Potash (as K20), % by weigh 1.49 0.41
5 C:N Ratio 18.7 16.9
6 pH 7.42 7.29
7 Conductivity, µs/om 1210 2210
8 Nitrogen (as N), mg/kg 0.36 0.31
9 Phosphorous (as P), mg/kg 1626.0 0.31
10 Potassium (as P), mg/kg 6200 2994
11 Calcium (as Ca), mg/kg 4000 1700
12 Magnesium (as Mg), mg/kg 4900 12273.2
13 Sulphur (as S), mg/kg 2200 12846.2
14 Boron (as B), mg/kg 52 0.42
15 Zinc (as Zn), mg/kg 73 143.3
16 Manganese (as Mn), mg/kg 60 601.2
17 Iron (as Fe), mg/kg 24200 267
18 Copper (as Cu), mg/kg 5 13321
19 Molybdenum (as Mo), ND* 27.7
20 Chloride (as Cl), mg/kg 400 1.19
*ND not detected
Source: report number 9160119003, sigma test and research centre (January, 2016)

 

  1. CONCLUSION

Interventions and situation analysis for over 10 years in Rawain region revealed that there is a need to blend modern science in the existing agriculture system with respect to the changing climatic conditions. Working withthe improved seed and techniques alone cannot produce results until something is done on soil and micro irrigation techniques, as these work as support to the production system of crops on field. Imparting improved technologies, services and inputs enhance agriculture and livestock productivity, and ultimately the livelihood of the family.

Secondly, marginal and scattered land holdings in the hill conditions can not give satisfactory results in terms of marketable production. Therefore, the only solution is to institutionalize the farmers in producer’s groups and farmer’s federation as a common umbrella for collective approach of production and marketing. Apart from production and marketing, these institutions will also provide uninterrupted supply of inputs and services for sustainable livelihood. Farmers’ federations or cooperatives as an apex body will be owned by farmers where operations and management towards capacity building of farmers will lead to the self-sustenance of such institutions and marginal communities in mountain agriculture system.

Spur types of apple fruits are dominating market due to its good colure and verities of flavours. Low chilling varieties are well suited to the changing climatic conditions in hill regions

 

  1. RECOMMENDATIONS

In the existing crop cycle, there is a need to incorporate small duration cash crops, which can minimize their risk or dependency on long duration climatic vulnerable crops. Seeing the climate and market opportunity, there is huge scope for floriculture in the hills of Uttarakhand.

As in hill conditions, livestock is not proportionate to the landholdings of farmers and prevailing temperature conditions delays the process of decomposition. Therefore, Shivansh khaad technique of permaculture should be promoted, which is not only rich in nutrients but also gives life to the soil due to presence of beneficial micro-organisms in this type of compost.

Apart from good quality seed, planting material, and climate resilient crop selections, work should be done on the soil and micro irrigation techniques. These are the supportive areas to be worked upon to sustain the agriculture in low soil depth area (hills) of Uttarakhand. Soil fertility maps should be designed at micro level for accurate crop specific recommendations.

In market oriented horticulture crops like apple, low chilling colour strains or varieties of apple should be promoted as they fetch better price than the existing varieties like royal delicious and golden delicious, which need high chilling hours for fruit set & colour development in these are also comparatively poor than the spur cultivars or colour strain varieties of apple.

In hills for collective approach of production and marketing, we need to strengthen the institutions by strengthening their internal management systems. Conducting regular interface of these institutions with line departments, agri input agencies, market vendors can sustain their long terms plans of business. Livelihood of marginal farmers can only be sustained if the institutions area strong enough.

 

  1. REFERENCES

Kakade B. K.1, Karmarkar P. P.1, Patil S. M.1, Kulkarni P. K.1, Patil N. B.1, Kadao S. H1, Hatolkar (2014). V. B.1 Sustainable Rural Livelihood through Agri-Business Initiatives In Backward Districts Of Maharashtra. Procedia-process and behavioural sciences.Vol 133.pp 265-278

Anjani Kumar, HarbirSingha, Sant Kumara and SurabhiMittalb (2011).Value Chains of Agricultural Commodities and their Role in Food Security and Poverty Alleviation – A Synthesis.Agricultural Economics Research Review Vol. pp 169-181

Saurabh Kumar and Aparna Sharma (2016), Agricultural Value Chains in India: Prospects and Challenges. Cuts international

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