Venue: Hotel Palash Residence, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh | September 28th, 2018
A Consultation was organized by DA, INTACH, PSI, Green Economy Coalition, and RRA Network on developing a strategy for rainfed farming systems in Bundelkhand region on 28th September 2018 at Hotel Palash Residency, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The objective of the consultation was to develop a rainfed farming system to bring rainfed farming families into the growth story of Madhya Pradesh in 4 districts of Bundelkhand region of MP of which 2 will be aspirational districts. The meeting was attended by 65+Members. There was participation from CSOs working in Bundelkhand region of MP, farmers, Additional Director Agriculture, NABARD.
Consultation started with the welcome address of Ms. Anshul, Development Alternatives who welcomed the participants and gave an introduction to the relevance of rainfed farming in Bundelkhand and also spoke about the expectation of the consultation.
Followed by her, the context setting of the consultation was done by Ms. Seema Ravandale who spoke about the rainfed agriculture, issues, and challenges in Bundelkhand.
Prem Narayan ji, a farmer spoke about the main issues of Bundelkhand. Run-off of fertile soil takes place which leads to low productivity. Gradual replacement of hybrid and HYV varieties of crops by local varieties has led to malnutrition problem so there is need of local seed conservation programmes. Use of chemical fertilizers should be reduced and organic fertilizers should be maximized. The issue of farmer migration needs to be reduced. Farm mechanization is leading to a loss in production of agriculture which is ultimately leading to loss of cows. Caste/class/gender discrimination is leading to local politics because of which politically powerful farmers are only getting benefited. Apart from Premji, other farmers from Orcha, Umaria, Panna discussed issues of agriculture in Bundelkhand. The key issues were the timely availability of seeds, water holding capacity of the soil, reducing landholding size, reduced animal rearing, less focus on the fishery. Farmers also shared that organic farming does not reduce the yield of crops and livestock rearing can help in the promotion of organic farming.
Mr. Sandeep said that farmers are doing agriculture only on basis of market demand and annual average farmer’s income has gone down to only Rs 15000-20000/annum.
Dr. Sabyasachi Das introduced the RRA Network and introduced about the rainfed farming system, investments in rainfed agriculture its relation with Natural Resource Management and livelihood.
Mr. Ahirwal, Additional Director of Agriculture, spoke about social problems and local politics in Bundelkhand which is stopping development processes in the region. He said that sustainable agriculture should be promoted along with Natural Resource Conservation and biodiversity conservation (especially local seed conservation). He spoke about the departmental schemes and how can these be useful for the farmers. He was in favor of working in collaboration of ATMA with NGOs.
Apart from farmers, department, CSO members shared that work should be done on water and soil conservation and local language and technology should be used, for this lokgyan is also required, traditional crop pattern and its importance should be understood. When talking about soil health, a most important component of soil which is helpful for a yield of the crop should be understood. Along with agriculture, livestock rearing should be considered together and mutual benefits should be seen. There should be the focus on forest lands also on which a lot of forest dwellers livelihood is dependent. Convergence programs with water resources department and MGNREGA can help in medhbandi, khet talab construction. Through agriculture department, provision of supplying timely availability of seeds should be there.
The consultation concluded with identifying next steps to take the agenda of agriculture growth of Bundelkhand forward. CSOs committed to building this informal network for identifying improved and better strategies for comprehensive agriculture in the region. The CSO partners expect to work closely with District and State officers to develop a prototype of a more comprehensive and holistic planning and implementation of agriculture policy with the triple of the aim of – reducing risks of smallholder farmers, ease of doing farming; and enhancing the income of the small and marginal holder farmer.