Technology enables rising of farmers from remote and degraded coastal lands of Andaman Islands

Life has dramatically changed for Shri Ranjit Baroi of Collinpur village, South Andaman Island in a span of three years from 2012. Decreasing rainy days, increasing length of dry spell along with soil salinity during dry season makes agriculture highly vulnerable in the costal lowlands of Andaman Islands. It is vital to manage the threat emanating from the rising mean global temperature and sea level to ensure the sustainable livelihood of people inhabiting these areas. In addition, after 2004 tsunami seawater is more often gushing into the land inundating paddy fields with saline water. Collinpur village of South Andaman is one among the several villages affected by these problems.

With no other option, the farmers work hard to grow paddy every year with a hope that this year would go well for them. However, their hope never sustained as the inundation by seawater combined with heavy tropical rain often destroyed their crop. Realising that agriculture and livelihood are being worst affected by saline water intrusion and climate change a raised bed and furrow system was made in the field of Shri. Ranjit Baroi and ten other farmers at Collinpur Village by Central Island Agricultural Research Institute, Port Blair under National Agricultural Innovation Project.

The raised bed and furrow (RBF) system comprised of three raised beds of 4 m width and equal number of furrows of 6 m width formed to a convenient length (~ 36 m) in an area of about 0.3 acre of coastal lowland made in March 2013. The salts and the other toxic substances from the raised beds were leached out using rainwater during the subsequent rainy season. Rain water was harvested in the furrows from 2014 onwards after draining off the water harvested in the first year. By the end of July 2014 nearly 465 m3 of fresh water was harvested and stored in the three furrows which was good enough for culturing of Indian Major Carps. The fishlings were provided by CIARI and subsequently the farmer has restored his backyard poultry farming of Vanaraja birds. He makes use of regular agro-advisories received from the agromet unit of CIARI for planning and executing agricultural operations.

He started cultivating banana in the beds of RBF system organically by using compost prepared from farm wastes and poultry manure and Panchagavya. Both the techniques he has learned from CIARI by making use of the trainings programmes. He used the water from the furrows to irrigate his banana crop during dry season and successfully harvested short duration vegetables such as amaranthus and radish grown as intercrop. He was very happy after having harvested fresh water fish (IMC) from the furrows. He earned his livelihood even in the backdrop of drought like situation prevailed during the dry periods of 2013-15. He has succeeded in integrating fruits, vegetables, fish and poultry in his field by the technical support and knowledge gained from CIARI. He has become a model farmer to emulate in the rest of the coastal lowlands of Andaman Islands.

My fortune came from CIARI in the form of “raised bed and furrow system and enabling technology for organic cultivation banana in the degraded coastal lowlands” the farmer thankfully acknowledged.

The scientific team from CIARI is much satisfied with the success of this farmer and confident that the model can even sustain against the impacts of climate change in this remote part of the country.

A.​ After tsunami (Waterlogged-saline)

B.​ Raised bed and furrow systems made in the affected areas (Vegetable / Fruits + Fish cultivation)

Waterlogged-saline land (before intervention) (11° 41′ 36.36″ N ; 92° 36′ 24.21″ E)

Organic cultivation of Banana in the beds + fish in the furrow (after intervention)

Fingerlings of IMC were distributed to each farmer to begin the fish culture

 

 

Contributed by:

Velmurugan, A., Zamir Ahmed, S.K., Swarnam, T.P. Biswas, T.K. and Dam Roy, S. CIARI, Port Blair

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