Bhoomi Ka works with smallholder farmers to encourage usage of ecological farming methods. These practices are in synchrony with nature.
One can learn about diversity from natural ecosystems like forests and rivers. Forests and aquatic systems have established themselves as self-supportive systems and through the ages, a symbiotic relationship has been established between these ecosystems and the dependent communities/components. The reason is diversification and tight recycling of waste. In commercial farming, only a few types of vegetables are grown and large areas are planted with just a few varieties. This uniformity makes it easy to manage, but also makes the production system unstable and vulnerable to attacks of pests and disease. Diversity in plant species as well as in the crops cultivated, keep pests away, and can play an important role in preserving our food habits and cultural traditions.
We call this agroecological system as Sustainable Integrated Farming System (SIFS). As discussed earlier, SIFs imitate nature’s principles of collaboration, multilayer arrangements, and energy recycling through combining various components carefully. In SIFS, overall production, income and nutrition – both food and fodder, is enhanced and diversified both in terms of quantity and quality; further, incidence of risk is reduced and the system becomes energy efficient as a whole. It also integrates various techniques like soil water conservation, energy security, rainwater harvesting, cropping sequence management and multi-tier arrangement for better management of space and better utilisation of time by increasing cropping intensity and decreasing the fallow period.
SIFS involves 3 major principles:
- Cropping Sequence: Appropriate cropping methodology has to be followed so that there is less competition for food; space is available for proper root system, duration of cropping season is increased and there is pest control.
- Multi-storey arrangement: Most natural ecosystems in the tropics are multi- level arrangements. High levels of interaction among biotic and abiotic components and multiple energy exchange routes make a natural ecosystem resilient, self-maintaining and highly productive. Moreover, productivity improves over time.
- Integrated subsystems and various components: Next to diversification, integration is the most important aspect of sustainable resource management. In ecologically integrated farming systems, closer integration is attempted within each farm/garden/pond etc., to achieve integration both at the nutrient exchange as well as the functional level so that inter and intra subsystem linkages are established.
Bhoomi Ka is working to train in this approach and linking them to suitable markets.
To know more visit www.welthungerhilfeindia.org/thematic_areas/rural-livelihoods-and-sustainable-agriculture/