Farmers growing less water intensive crops in India's drought prone areas

By Harshita Bisht, Development Alternatives, Bundelkhand (Madhya Pradesh), Aug.6 : Charan Singh Parihar has proved to be an excellent role model for other farmers in the drought prone Bundelkhand region. He has set a good example for promoting climate resilient farming in this semi - arid region of central India by replacing wheat with barley - ahighly water efficient crop.

As compared to wheat, which requires six cycles of irrigation, barley only needs three.Barley also uses 50 percent less manure in comparison. Consequently, the input cost of barley production is 50 per cent less.

At the same time, production and market price of barley is 20 per cent more as compared to wheat which makes it a very attractive proposition for the farming community.

"This substitution has increased my per unit productivity by 1.5 times. Moreover, selling barley in the market is highly profitable. Due to less competition in the barley market, barley trading is less time consuming and offers Rs. 150 per quintal more as compared to wheat prices", says Charan Singh.

It is not surprising that Charan Singh's successful 'barley' experimentation has already been replicated in the fields of more than 600 farmers in the region.

Dr. Nishi Rai, a scientist working at the KrishiVigyan Kendra in Jhansi asserts, "We have observed over the last few years that not only the average quantum of rainfall in Bundelkhand has reduced but the rainfall pattern is becoming very erratic and uncertain. Ground water levels have drastically gone down in the region which makes it very imperative to conserve water and do farming that is water efficient".

Farming practices such as using seed varieties that require less water and mature in less time should be widely promoted in water deficient regions of India to help farmers reduce their vulnerability to climate change.

--ANI (Posted on 06-08-2013)

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