Rainfed agro-ecosystem occupies 68 per cent of
India’s cultivated area and supports 40% of the
human beings and 65% of the livestock population.
In the arid context of Barmer, where more than
eighty per cent of farmers are small and marginal,
focusing on improving conditions for agriculture
while conserving fragile ecology of the region has
been a priority area from the beginning. From 1992,
SURE has been managing the Krishi Vigyan Kendra
(KVK), an institution of the Indian Council for
Agricultural Research (ICAR), GoI.
The major focus in this district has been livelihood
security related programmes for tribal, small and
marginal farmers. The programme strategies have
included increasing production, productivity and
enhancing profitability from existing resources and
introducing some economic activities based on local
resources. Interventions cover improving production
systems of crop, livestock, poultry, processing and
value addition. The major clientele have been
farmers, farm women and youth for skill development related to the enterprises practiced by
them. During the last five years, KVK has conducted
on farm trials on 40 technologies, organized 12959
demonstrations on farmers fields, trained 5430
farmers and 1121 extension officials, ensured
participation of 1.13 lakh stakeholders in different
activities for knowledge and information sharing,
produced 1021 tonnes of quality seeds of crops and
7000 number of planting materials.
KVK has changed the scenario of arid horticulture by producing and disseminating seb and gola varieties of ber, in whole district. It has introduced Aonla, Datepalm and Gonda in arid environment with limited irrigation. Gradually aonla and datepalm are becoming popular on desert margins.
More than 649 villages in Barmer district have been reached by KVK for on farm demonstration of technologies and through various programmes. In the last five years supply of 50.35 tonnes seed of Moth, 30.18 Moong, 28.35 Cumin and 25.45 Isabgol demonstrate the demand for the improved germ plasm of field crops developed by the KVK, 12959 farm families adopted sustainable crop production in district through KVK technology. Milk production increased from 15-25% and reproductive problems due to mineral deficiency have been rectified. KVK has organized 300 camps, 25000 ha area has been demonstrated under drip irrigation and 10 pasture development farms have been established in district. The above table presents findings about the adoption rates of technologies disseminated by KVK. The good rates tell us about the enthusiasm of farmers who participate in these trainings. Such trainings have benefitted over a lakh farmers since 1992. The training programs on value addition to indigenous plants and livestock products are very popular among rural women. Training programme on raising ‘mushroom’ using local plant waste material is also Society to Uplift Rural Economy, Barmer Programmes 13 becoming popular among rural women. Value addition and post harvest processing of farm produce are being popularized among farm women for generation of additional income.
The objectives of the Bio - Integration of Farming Activities and Resource Management (BIOFARM) were to develop bio-intensive model farms and/or farm clusters through participatory research based on agro-ecosystem principles and ensure nutritional and livelihood security of resource poor small/medium households. The project achieved food and nutritional security while enhancing productivity of crops and increasing biodiversity. The founding principle of the project was maximum use of solar energy. At the end of the completion of the three year cycle, the BIO FARM project was able to demonstrate the advantages of an integrated resource flow. The project was helpful in identification of the importance of combined use of improved crop production technologies, sowing of improved varieties, composting, adoption of water harvesting technique and pitcher farming method of irrigation for better and ecologically sustainable results from farm produce. Establishment of arid fruit orchard, post-harvest management, nurtritional garden, pastureland development with sewan (Lasiurus Sindicus) and Dhaman (Cenchrus Setigerus), UMB and mineral mixture feeding and other income generation activities like gum farming, top working in desi ber, handicraft production have to be promoted for getting sustainable production and to cope with crisis of traditional farming.
In an arid region, natural grasslands and pastures are of great significance for sustaining the ecological balance as well as security nets for poor and landless in the villages. Barmer and Jaisalmer regions are endowed with a number of bountiful orans (sacred groves) that need to be protected and regenerated. SURE has been advocating for a policy for protection and conservation of these orans and other issues related to pastureland and fodder production in a region where the importance of livestock rearing is still critical. Facilitating communities on issues relating to protection of bio diversity and forest wealth has been a sustained focus of SURE.