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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Living: Case-31: SILT TURNS WASTELAND TO PRODUCTIVE LAND!

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The Villagers of Korlapahad of Katepalli Mandal in Nalgonda district have benefited from silt application. The land here is sodic and lataritic so it cannot be used for cultivation.  It therefore lies fallow and only cattle wander across these wastelands. With no source of income the villagers used to migrate to Vuyyuru in the Krishna district, Miryalaguda and surrounding villages to cut sugarcane, or work in paddy harvesting and transplantation. Most of the children dropped out from school because their parents migrated.

The villagers met to discuss this situation.  They felt that the migration had to be controlled. They wanted to be able to grow crops in their fields. They decided to apply silt to their fields to enhance the fertility of the soil. The tanks could be de-silted and this silt would be available for application to the land. Desilting would have multiple benefits. The tank would get deeper and thus store more water. This would increase groundwater, which would replenish wells in the villages. The silt applied to the fields is bio-organic manure, so the land would become cultivable. With the availability of water and increased fertility, crops could be grown and this in turn would provide work for labourers which would ultimately result in controlling migration.

The village organisation discussed this plan in detail and they unanimously agreed to implement it. They approached the NGO, which facilitated the implementation of watershed activities and prepared a list of wastelands in the villages. Thirty farmers were identified and they all agreed to the plan and contributed to the development process. The village organisation resolved that the silt from the tank must be dug and transported to the farmers’ fields. 20 tractor loads of silt were dumped and spread. The need per acre was estimated at 50 m3 of silt. (A tractor load is equal to 2.5 m3 of silt). The expense for transporting the silt was met from the Productivity Enhancement fund and the cost of digging and loading from the Food for Work programme. It generated an employment opportunity for some of the labour and they were remunerated with 7 Kgs of rice and Rs.70 in cash as wages for a day of work.  This stopped the migration.

The village was totally transformed. Farmers started growing cash crops such as cotton and groundnut and a number of vegetables in the fields where the fertility was enhanced due to the silt application. Productivity increased.  All these lands filled with crops. Water storage capacity had gone up in the tank. Open wells and borewells have plenty of water. Thus the cycle of change towards development has started.

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