This is the third year of promoting Finger Millet in the region. Previous year 126 farmers harvested finger millet which had a good impact on the local population. Being a drought resistant crop, around 400 farmer bought seeds and 126 could harvest 3.4 tons (confirmed data). Previous year the rainfall was quite low, due to which the rice cultivation was a complete failure. But finger millet survived the dry conditions and returned quite a good amount of produce. We witnessed very clearly, how finger millet survived when rice could not even give any return. You can see the photograph of a field where millet and rice was cultivated together but the result was quite astonishing.
This is evidence, which we are now using to motivate our farmers to restart this traditional drought resistant crop this year. We have developed a small 4 minutes movie to promote finger millet among local population. We have completed millet recipe demonstration in 30 villages which was to promote millet as a nutritious diet in rural area. Millet recipe demonstration has influenced a large number of women and men to restart the crop and use it as a major food.
Due to extreme heat during April and May, our common promotional programmes were not very successful as bringing people together was very difficult. Therefore we thought to do the promotion in each village separately.
Photographs of promotional programmes:
People have been very responsive to finger millet compared to previous year. We are half way through the promotion and see a lot of interest among people. I think more than 500 farmers will be ready to cultivate finger millet this time. Not only this but some of the farmers from our villages are requesting Pearl millet and Great millet seeds which are traditional drought resistant crops. It is an amazing experience of the project to see the interest of so many farmers to restart these traditional crops. It is a major behaviour change among people in two to three years of time. They are not only talking about the drought resistance capacity of these crops but now they know the high nutritional components in these crops.
As we know only knowledge will not bring behaviour change but knowledge with repeated action is required to bring change in behaviour, we are ensuring that families eat millet. And this effort has brought some amount of success this year. One of the evidence which made our team feel so happy was the response of our farmers who don’t want to sell millet but want to keep it for food. Recently, we wanted to buy 2 quintals of finger millet from our target area. When we asked some of our farmers who had more than 50 kg production, whether they want to sell some amount,they refused saying that they want to eat. These same farmers two years back were asking if they cultivate finger millet where can they sell it and complaining about the unavailability of market, now don’t want to sell. This is a major behaviour change among some of the families regarding consumption of finger millet we have experienced.
This year we are doing our best to promote this crop as the condition seems to be drought. If they don’t get anything else, some amount of finger millet can be produced. This will not only secure their food for some months but also add to their nutritional needs during drought.
We are also looking for pearl millet and great millet seeds to make available for our farmers. We will be continuing this through the coming months and would update about the progress.
There has been constant decrease in rainfall since three years in our project area. Previous year the rainfall was significantly less, which affected the agriculture up to a great degree. Lots of water sources dried up by the month of October and there was very less water available for winter crop. This caused high number of migrations and if this continues many more will commit the same in near future.
Now the area looks dry and most of the water sources have dried up. There are few wells and tube wells which are active but most of them are drying up. In few days the situation might get worse. There is no water available for agriculture and in few months there would be drinking water crisis for both human beings and animals.
The community is not prepared for this. If they face a severe drought, they will have nothing to do but to depend on government and some NGOs or finally migrate for food and water. That will be horrible…
At this juncture, we are trying to help the community to prepare drought mitigation plans at the village level. In communities we have started the Participatory Assessment of Disaster Risk exercises and presently, we are facilitating vulnerability and capacity assessment. This would help the villagers to have a plan for the anticipated drought by next month.
People are participating actively in this activity, which has been a great experience for me. We don’t know how much impact we would be able to bring in this matter. But we hope the community would be able to make an action plan and execute it. We could have done it a year before but could not do for some reasons. Now our prayer is that the community may adapt best to this situation and improve their resilience.
We would be continuing this activity intensively and I will share my experience in a regular basis…..
Once again, it’s time for me to share with you about the wonder crop (Finger Millet) that I had already shared in two of my posts in the past. As I had shared that last year we were able to encourage 46 farmers to restart the traditional crop, this year also we have been able to keep up the work.
In the beginning of the monsoon we were able to promote the crop in quite a big manner. We promoted it in different occasions in the area which was quite successful and 433 farmers (360 from the project area) bought finger millet seeds made available by the project. Out of them around 300 farmers did nursery and eventually, 133 farmers were able to harvest the crop this year.
Our expectation was obviously higher but 46 farmers last year to 133 farmers this year is a good indicator for the project to see the outcome. In 30 villages the production till now is 2.18 tons and we are yet to get the data from some more farmers.
But at the end of all this, it’s not the statistics but the fact that farmers are restarting this crop is important to us. Here, where their major crop like rice failed terribly due to low rainfall; finger millet has given them good yield. Harvest of finger millet would definitely contribute to their food and nutritional security this year but most importantly it will help them to understand the importance of adaptation in current situation. Farmers are improving their resilience by adopting drought resistant crops could be the key success for the community and for us as well.
It is a small move towards our goal but a beautiful beginning to help increase resilience of community towards rapid climate change. Increased trust of the beneficiaries would lead us to support the community more effectively in the adaptation process through coming days.
There are few photographs of this year cultivation and harvest, have a look…. God Bless….
[ I take this opportunity to acknowledge Dr. Jeevan Kuruvilla, our former Project Director for his huge effort and interest towards this cause ]
This year, we have had delayed rains, almost a month late. This has particularly affected the cultivation of the kharif/monsoon crops. Fortunately farmers have used their indigenous adaptation strategy in this situation. They have cultivated some of the drought resistant crops such as Corn, Pigeon Pea and Millets. The Corn was coming along well but just when the flowering started, there was scarcity of rain, might affect the yield in the coming months. Farmers are now hopeful about the other crops that they have cultivated. But the situation of those crops is unsure as well. Just last year the Pigeon Pea looked promising but the unseasonal rainfall during the flowering period reduced the yield to just half of what was expected.
Now the farmers are left with only option of the winter crops although most of them don’t have lands available. The obvious reason is that, the lands will be available only after the monsoon crops have been harvested. But since the cultivation was delayed by a month, the harvest would also be delayed by at least a month eventually leading to delay in cultivation of winter crops. The most severe consequence would be caused by the frost in the month of January. The heavy frost during January destroys some of the vegetables. It would a repeat of last years’ experience as unseasonal rainfall destroyed many crops and vegetables.
So farmers are now burdened from every direction. The rain crop has been a failure due to late and very less rainfall affecting the timing for agriculture. The delay in winter crop seems obvious which would have severe consequence from frost. Farmers are hopeless in this situation and can’t dare to hope because of their horrible past experiences.
They can only wait and see what happens as they have done their part and now have to let nature take its course. No wonder agriculture in India is a gamble. And for this region it is a biggest gamble, If they get good yield, their children would go to school for an another year, if not the education stops as families migrate for livelihood. That’s what has been happening to all our poor farmers every day. But the state is happy with their unreal statistics. Nothing has done for these communities to deal with the current climate change. The people who are the least responsible for climate change are the ones who have been affected the most. At this point of time government has to do justice by improving the adaptation skills of the community and help them in developing contingency plans. If government doesn’t look beyond and reach out, the green revolution which was started to combat food insecurity would become the biggest reason for famine.
Finger Millet is one of the most precious gifts from God to the Human kind, said Dr. Haider, Professor, Birsa Agriculture University (BAU), Ranchi. The capacity to resist drought and its high nutritious values make this a wonder crop in drought prone areas in fighting food insecurity and malnutrition.
I had mentioned previously that we were able to help 46 farmers restart the crop previous year. This year we got more than 300 requests for finger millet seed from our project area. We found there were so many other people interested to restart Finger Millet outside our target villages too. As we had around 300 farmers to cultivate finger millet this year, we had organized an interface meeting with BAU on 17th where Prof. Haider addressed the farmers. Prof. Haider shared some important information on Finger Millet and its significance in the region. Following this, we had a question- answer session with farmers where they discussed their difficulties in millet cultivation and about different methods of Finger Millet cultivation.
This was a good beginning before monsoon and would help many farmers to restart the crop and motivate many others in the region also. Many realized that Finger Millet is not just one of the other crops but it is a crop with extreme significance for this region. This is a beautiful beginning but we hope to see the result in the field, villages and families through coming years.
We are not only trying to promote food and nutritional security among this drought affected region but also to help bring this traditional crop back to the mainstream. This is not just a crop but a wonder crop.
These are some of the photographs of the interface meeting:
In my previous post regarding wheat cultivation I had written about my experience in agriculture. We had done wheat cultivation in our hospital campus and after long waiting we harvested it in the last week. It was done in SRI method and took lots of effort but overall experience was so beautiful. We had lots of challenges in the process, three times goat grazing, unseasonal rainfall and pest attack etc which affected the crop, but after all it gave us quite good yield of 31 kg from 70 square meters of land. It is 4.4 tons per hectare which is quite high. The yield is more than double of the yield in traditional method in the same Agro Climatic condition. Below are some of the photographs of the harvest and the process photographs you can see in the previous post.
Thank God for the blessed harvest……and thanks to all who contributed to this beautiful accomplishment.
"He brought me to his banquet hall and raised the banner of love over me. Restore my strength with raisins and refresh me with apples! I am weak from passion... His left hand is under my head and his right hand caresses me" - Song of Solomon 2:4-6