Stopping distress migration in a village
This past year we have had the privilege of working with families in 15 different villages in the Bar Block of Lalitpur District to see transformation take place in every area of their lives.
This village, like each one of our project villages is in a drought-prone area, and many of the population are trapped in a cycle of seasonal distress migration because the land that they have is unable to support their basic food security needs. The CHDP has been working for 3 years to see local communities manage the God-given environment through village level cooperation in land-treatment and agricultural enhancements.
Six farmers from this village all had land, but were not able to use it. Being from backward castes, they had earlier received land by the local Panchayat, but it was unproductive as it was full of rocks. Thus they migrated 6-8 months of the year in order to survive and feed their families.
The Village watershed committee, together with our CHDP staff decided that this land should be rehabilitated during the cash-for-work drought relief that took place during the 2nd monsoonal failure in 2015. A total of 20 acres of land was rehabilitated with rocks being removed, and members of the local community also received the benefits of labor work during this phase.
This year (2016/2017), for the very first time, crops were grown on this land. The good rains allowed the farmers to grow crops of urad, moong (pulses) and makka (maize) during the kharif season. Then, during the rabi season they planted mustard, vegetables and wheat using the SWI (systemic wheat intensification) method. The results were spectacular, with one of them demonstrating that his 10 kgs of grain sown with SWI yielded 8 quintals of wheat harvest! When we first started promoting SWI for wheat, people did not want to use it as it meant more labour intensity. However, we as a team persevered and prayed and were to convince the local famers club members to take up this challenge on their fields.
The results were a blessing with crops being grown where none were grown before. This allowed all these 6 beneficiary farmers in the village to work on their own fields and not go for distress migration this year. Their children are also reaping the benefit of this first harvest as they are now stable students at the village school.