Agriculture is the prime occupation of the people of Uttarakhand. Agriculture is largely rain-fed and traditional farming systems like the ‘Barahanja’ (twelve grains grown together and harvested at different times) have sustained man an animal over centuries. Traditional farming systems are highlighted by the use of forest leaf litter for compost making exchange of seeds and indigenous traditional knowledge.
Crops in village
|Villages Name||Main crops|
|Padli Guzzar, Raheempur, Paniyala Chandapur||Khareef: Sugarcane, Paddy, Urad Daal, feed production (Pashuchara)Ravi: Wheat, Sarson (mustard), Feed production.|
|Mkkhanpur, Khanpur, Sikenderpur Bhenswal||Kheera (Cucumber), Urad, Paddy, Wheat, Sugarcane.|
|Dayalbagh Colony Roorkee (in small quantity)||Sugarcane, peas, Radish, Moong (green Pulse), Gram & Sarson (Mustard) etc.|
Soil is one of the most important natural resources of Uttarakhand. This natural resource is depleting gradually, day by day, as soil erosion in the area is increasing with the increase in deforestation for different developmental activities.
Sources of Irrigation
The major sources of irrigation in Uttarakhand are the canal system, tube wells, lift irrigation, guhls (hill channels), water-harvesting tanks (hauzas), hydrams, shallow tube wells, and deep tube wells in the Tarai belt. In most of the districts, especially in hilly region of the state, the main source of irrigation is natural streams. To irrigate the land on the hill slopes, water has traditionally been brought into the fields from rivers/rivulets by means of channels called ‘guhls’ cut along the contour line of the hills.
Uttarakhand is the first State of India to be declared an organic state. The Uttarakhand Organic Commodity Board (UOCB) has been constituted to promote organic farming in the state. About 10,000 hectare of land is under organic farming, covering about 15,000 farmers and 45 crops. The state has ideal conditions for the organic farming, especially in the hill regions where chemical fertilizer consumption in various traditional cereal crops such as millets, barley, pulses, etc. is quite low due to various constraints. Promotion of organic farming is desirable for maintaining soil fertility, checking the groundwater degradation, protecting human health, reducing water requirement of crops, and finally decreasing the non-point sources of pollution of rivers. The major challenge before the state is to improve the livelihood of the people without losing out its biodiversity and other natural resources, including water resources. In this context, organic farming could be a viable option if the state encourages and supports the farmers by protecting their farm income, developing marketing infrastructure, putting in place the institution of certification, quality check branding, and training of farmers. It is observed that when a farmer shifts from conventional farming to organic farming, the initial level of productivity declines. However, later on, the productivity increases. In order to encourage farmers to adopt this alternative system of farming, their net income should be insured at least for two to three years either though providing subsidized inputs or through direct transfer of subsidies. This transfer could be much lower than the environmental and health costs that the society bears due to chemicalization of agriculture. In this section, an attempt is made to examine the cost and returns from organic as well as conventional farming in the state.
view of crops ( Sugar cane)
view of crops ( Sagaun Tree)
View of irrigation source (Gang Canal)
View of irrigation source (Tube well)
Farmers’ traditional knowledge of agriculture includes tested technologies in the field
- They use a special type of traditional plough. Other types of ‘improved’ ploughs do not work in the hills as the soil is gravelly and not deep.
- Under rain fed conditions farmers in hill regions plough their land several times before the onset of rain to conserve water and increase water retention capacity.
- Farmers plough their land straight instead of in circles and open parallel furrows for rainwater harvesting and retaining moisture. However, there is a recommendation to plough the land across the slope to check erosion.
- Farmers of hill regions prefer mixed cropping for minimizing risks under rain fed conditions and creating ground cover for checking runoff and soil loss. They grow legumes with maize and ginger or turmeric with maize.
- After sowing ginger, colocasia and turmeric, farmers use paddy straw, wheat straw or leaf litters as mulch to ensure proper germination.
- Farmers do not practice weeding and inter culturing in the maize crop because of soil conditions and the requirement of fodder in the rainy season.
- Farmers of the Garhwal hills store seeds by selection for different plots with special identification and use them in those particular plots.
- In the outer Himalaya farmers were reluctant to grow maize because of wild animals such as bears, wild boars and monkeys. In khadar (lowland) areas they grow paddy and irrigated wheat and in uplands they take rainfed rabi crops.
- In the hills farmers grow mainly mandua, jhingora and guar. Because of recent developments they have been attracted towards off-season vegetables, e.g., peas, tomatoes, etc.
Indigenous Pest Management in Uttarakhand
Setting fire in field: After harvesting of wheat crop, hill farmers burn the plot. For burning, they collect pine leaves from the forest and distribute those evenly in the field to dry. If they are already dried, they are put to fire to destroy the hive mating stage of white grubs. Scientist did not consider it a good practice because microorganisms are also burnt and killed.
Transplanting of paddy crop: Farmers of Gwarbhilkot village preferred transplanting of paddy wherever there is availability of water due to presence of natural water source in the plot. For transplanting, they raise nursery in their field near their house. They sow seed by broadcasting and one and half month old seedlings are used for transplanting. For preparing fields, male farmers puddle it with indigenous plough tied on the back of bull at least one day prior to transplanting. There is a belief among the farmers that puddling destroys the homes of insects by disturbance thereby killing them. But due to lack of male labour available for transplanting, farmers were abandoning the practice.
Burning of cow-dung cakes: White grub also causes considerable loss to vegetable crop also like chilly. Farmers grow chilly in kitchen gardens. They transplant seedling of chilly plant by digging holes of 5-7.5cm for sterilizing. They burn cow dung cakes, pine leaves and leaves of other plant in it. Ash made by this provides nutrients to seedling. It was reported by the farmers that after this, attack of white grubs on chilly plant is not observed.
Traditional adaptation for Cropping
Intercropping or mixed cropping:
Intercropping refers to two or more crops grown at the same time in the same field. In Dhala, farmers grow maize together with various legume crops like chickpeas, black gram (Phaseolus mungo) or sismum (Sesamum indicum). Intercropping is done in different combinations: one row of maize and one of legumes, or one row of maize and two of legumes and again one row of maize. Selection of a particular combination depends on soil conditions, the topography and the specific requirements of the farmer. These different combinations reduce the risk of crop failure in a bad monsoon
In Dhala, however, the traditional practice of green manuring is still widespread. Green manuring involves the cultivation of Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea), a forage or leguminous crop with high nitrogen content. This crop is grown during the monsoon in the fields that will later be used for wheat or other cash crops. The plants are cut before flowering and are incorporated into the soil, improving soil fertility and structure.
The optimal use of available water is a top priority for the farmers in this area. Mulching is used to reduce evaporation, as well as to prevent soil erosion. Mulching enhances water infiltration, and helps prevent the topsoil being washed away by high winds or water run-off. In Dhala, mulching is used when growing tuber crops like turmeric (Curcuma longa) or ginger (Zingiber officinale).
Improved Agricultural Practices
Agriculture in Dhala needs to withstand the impact of low rainfall and frequent droughts. Moreover, the availability of irrigation water in sufficient quantities is definitely a luxury for the villagers. Hence, most farmers either restrain from growing crops which require more water, like wheat, or spend ample resources on irrigation.
This is a widely accepted organic practice used in dry land agriculture. It is used to improve the nutrient content and water holding capacity of the soil. Its preparation involves composting cattle dung with biomass like neem leaves or fodder residue, and using worms to decompose it all.
Depending on only one or two kinds of crops considerably increases the vulnerability of farming households. Crop failure can easily increase food insecurity, especially for small-scale and marginal farmers. The diversification of crops in Dhala intended to help farmers secure an income, as well as food, even in the case of extreme events.
There are different type of fertilizers used by the villagers. Pest attack and maximum rain are the main problem for the crop in Roorkee. Due to drain irrigation the more risk of pest in this area. Compost, chemical fertilizers (pesticides) and urea compost are used for safety from pest attack. Pump set and drains are used for the purpose of removing water from the field.
Some names of the pesticides and seeds of the main crop in Roorkee:
|Crop||Pesticides & Seeds|
|Sugarcane||Whit Grub, lezenda (spry in roots), Corazon (In April month)|
|Paddy||Fatera or Regent (In 25 Days), Corazon (After 50-55 days), Propikona, nack, note blust, leave blust are use as a medicine|
|Wheat||Khadpad Waar Nashak, Metribiyozen, Sulfur Sulfuran , Met Sulfuran, Propikona etc.|
|Cucumber (khera)||Seeds- Sayera, Kaamni, Nandani, Naziya (Local Name), Sponosighd (Pesticide)|