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STEPS TO TACKLE EF­FECTS OF ER­RATIC MON­SOON ON AGRI­CUL­TURE

Rural & Marketing - - FRONT PAGE -

Cli­mate change is a po­ten­tial threat to In­dian agri­cul­ture. And there­fore, there is a need to de­velop cli­mate smart agri­cul­ture prac­tices, es­pe­cially in the rain-fed ar­eas in the coun­try. There are ways which can help over­come what er­ratic mon­soon could cause.

1. Ac­cu­rate weather fore­cast

There is a need to pro­vide ac­cu­rate and timely fore­cast of weather re­ports so that farm­ers and con­cerned agen­cies can pre­pare in ad­vance to meet un­prece­dented chal­lenges. The India Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal De­part­ment, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with some agri­cul­tural uni­ver­si­ties, has been broad­cast­ing medium-range weather re­ports and guides for agri­cul­tural and al­lied ac­tiv­i­ties ev­ery Tues­day and Fri­day. How­ever, the man­ner in which the re­ports are be­ing dis­sem­i­nated has been rather in­ef­fec­tive. So, this calls for bet­ter chan­nels to make broader dis­sem­i­na­tion pos­si­ble in or­der to reach out to farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

2. Crop Se­lec­tion

Crop va­ri­eties for dry­land and arid re­gions should be of short du­ra­tion and drought re­sis­tant which can be har­vested within rain­fall pe­ri­ods and have suf­fi­cient resid­ual mois­ture in soil pro­file for post-mon­soon crop­ping. Farm­ers can be en­cour­aged to cul­ti­vate mil­lets, sorghums, pulses that are drought hardy in na­ture and shorter in du­ra­tion.

3. Crop­ping sys­tems

In rain-fed red soil, pulses like cow­pea can be raised as com­pan­ion crop with base crop of sorghum. In black soil, cow­pea with sorghum, clus­ter bean with cumbu (ba­jra) and short du­ra­tion red gram with ground­nut can be sown.

4. In­te­grated farm­ing sys­tem

In­te­grat­ing agri­cul­ture with hor­ti­cul­ture and an­i­mal hus­bandry can be en­cour­aged so that an­i­mal feeds can be sourced from the fields, and at the same time an­i­mal ma­nure can be used in place of chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers. Ap­pli­ca­tion of organic ma­nure im­proves wa­ter hold­ing ca­pac­ity of soil. Such in­te­gra­tion and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion can im­prove farm fer­til­ity and min­imise the impact of crop fail­ure farm­ers could face.

In­te­grat­ing agri­cul­ture with an­i­mal hus­bandry can be en­cour­aged so that an­i­mal feeds can be sourced from the fields, an­i­mal ma­nure can be used in place of chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers. Us­age of organic ma­nure im­proves wa­ter hold­ing ca­pac­ity of soil

5. Agro­nomic man­age­ment

Some of the prac­tices such as mid­sea­son cor­rec­tion, mulching and fo­liar spray­ing of anti-trans­par­ent would help in over­com­ing droughtren­dered prob­lems.

6. Al­ter­nate land use

In fre­quent drought-hit ar­eas, pas­ture man­age­ment, ley farm­ing, dry­land hor­ti­cul­ture and agro­forestry sys­tems, in­clud­ing al­ley crop­ping and silvi-pas­ture, can be en­cour­aged.

7. Wa­ter har­vest­ing and im­ple­men­ta­tion of small ir­ri­ga­tion projects

There is a sig­nif­i­cant yield gap in rain-fed dom­i­nated ar­eas when drought oc­curs. By adopt­ing rain wa­ter har­vest­ing struc­ture and small ir­ri­ga­tion projects, the in­crease in crop yields can be achieved.

8. Rain­wa­ter man­age­ment

Ef­fi­cient rain­wa­ter man­age­ment can in­crease agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion from dry­land ar­eas. Ap­pli­ca­tion of com­post or farm­yard ma­nure and rais­ing legumes add organic mat­ter to the soil and in­crease the wa­ter hold­ing ca­pac­ity. Dur­ing heavy down­pour, wa­ter is not re­tained by the soil which flows out as sur­face runoff. Un­der this con­di­tion, con­tour bund­ing in fields and plough­ing across the slopes will hold the rain wa­ter and also pre­vent soil ero­sion.

9.9 Sup­ple­men­tal ir­ri­ga­tion

Ex­cess runoff wa­ter can be h har­vested by proper land treat­ment o or stored in dugout ponds, and re­cy­cled for sup­ple­men­tal ir­ri­ga­tion dur­ing the crit­i­cal stage of the crop.

10. Wa­ter­shed man­age­ment

Wa­ter­shed man­age­ment is an ap­proach to op­ti­mise the use of land, wa­ter and veg­e­ta­tion. These are con­sid­ered as so­lu­tion to over­come drought, mod­er­ate floods and soil ero­sion, and to im­prove wa­ter avail­abil­ity and ul­ti­mately to in­crease fuel, fod­der and agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion on a sus­tained ba­sis.

11. De­vel­op­ment of in­for­ma­tion sys­tem at lo­cal level

There is a need to build a strong in­for­ma­tion sys­tem at the vil­lage level for the ben­e­fit of farm­ers, which re­quires de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion of re­spon­si­bil­ity and ca­pac­ity build­ing of peo­ple at the lo­cal level. Train­ing and keep­ing one cli­mate man­ager or mon­soon manger at vil­lage level can help ad­vance the sys­tem.

Wa­ter­shed man­age­ment is an ap­proach to op­ti­mise the use of land, wa­ter and veg­e­ta­tion. These are con­sid­ered as so­lu­tion to over­come drought, mod­er­ate floods and soil ero­sion, and to im­prove wa­ter avail­abil­ity and ul­ti­mately to in­crease fuel and fod­der

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