Farming systems

Soil and water conservation, protective irrigation, reclamation of degraded land and sustainable management of natural resources have been the core of SPWD’s programme since its inception. This led to increase in livelihood through improvement of agriculture, agroforestry, plantation and fodder development on private and community land. For this, a number of technologies were planned and applied as per the requirements and the socio-economic conditions of the area.

The thrust of SPWD in the eastern region during the last decade has been on grounding and scaling up of agroecological approaches that reduce reliance on purchased inputs and credit support for farming. Agroecological approaches are being positioned here as a solution to extreme indebtedness and distress among the farmers. This approach has also penetrated international policy circles among agroecologists, food activists and policy advocates but the success on the ground at a scale is limited. The three pillars that define SPWD’s work from its inception till date in the eastern region are

  • Protective irrigation to secure rainfed crops from distributional failures of rainfall.
  • Healthy and productive soils by regular addition of organic matter to land in rainfed areas.
  • Agro-ecological innovations that increase natural synergies and reduce external inputs and cost of production. This includes emerging approaches like system of rice intensification, non-pesticide management, sustainable intensification of farming systems founded on enhancing farmers’ knowledge and management skills.

SPWD with the support of Welthungerhilfe is implementing a sustainable agriculture programme in order to tackle issues that small and marginal farmers are faced with. The concept of sustainable integrated farming systems for small and marginal farmers is being promoted as an improved version of mixed cropping. The system uses multilayer arrangements and energy recycling, by carefully combining different elements. In sustainable integrated farming systems, overall production, income and nutrition (food and fodder) are enhanced and diversified in terms of both quantity and quality. The incidence of risk is reduced and the system becomes energy efficient as a whole.

The overall objective of sustainable integrated farming systems approach is four-fold: (a) improve household food, nutrition and livelihood security (b) improve income diversity (c) improve ecological sustainability and (d) strengthen the local economy. Farmer field schools are being organized with the farmer groups to equip them with knowledge needed to develop their sustainable integrated farming system farms. This helps them adopt sustainable agro-ecological farming practices and develops the youth as social and environmental service providers for agricultural and related inputs. SPWD’s Green College program acts as a rolling wheel for those who possess the potential to grow and become agricultural entrepreneurs.

SPWD is involved in Mahila Kisan Shashaktikaran Pariyojna in four districts of Jharkhand: Ranchi, Latehar, Simdega and Palamau. The programme launched by the Government of India as a sub-component of National Rural Livelihoods Mission aims to improve the present status of women in agriculture and to enhance the opportunities for their empowerment. It recognizes the centrality of women in agriculture and aims to provide direct and indirect support to enable them to achieve sustainable agricultural production. The capacity building programme of partner NGO’s team members and community resource persons are planned, designed and conducted by SPWD.

SPWD will continue its work on the theme of ‘agroecology and food security’ and specifically focus on inclusion of rainfed agriculture concerns within the agricultural policy mechanisms. This will be in addition to its current thrust of engaging with government and donor funded programmes from where it derives its learning’s from the field.