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Gram Unnati Helps Over 2000 Farmers Adopt Climate-compatible Agriculture to Preserve Water

According to the United Nations, water shortage might affect more than five billion people by 2050. India, with a population of 16 percent of the world's total, has access to only 4% of the world's water resources.

Shruti Kandwal
Gram Unnati Helps Over 2000 Farmers Adopt Climate-compatible Agriculture to Preserve Water
Gram Unnati Helps Over 2000 Farmers Adopt Climate-compatible Agriculture to Preserve Water

Gram Unnati, India's first integrated agri-tech solutions company, worked closely with multiple stakeholders to help farmers in the Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand save 4,000 litres per acre by bringing climate-compatible agriculture to over 5,000 acres of farmland at a time when economies around the world are looking for ways to sustain farming due to depleting groundwater levels.

Gram Unnati worked closely with the local district government, local maize processors, input businesses, and lead farmers in a brief period of 18 months, leading 2,000 farmers to migrate to climate-compatible crops that are also financially viable.

"The success of the initiative comes at a time when we are dealing with significant water crisis throughout the world," Aneesh Jain, CEO and Founder, Gram Unnati, remarked of the project's success. According to the United Nations, water shortage might affect more than five billion people by 2050. India, with a population of 16 percent of the world's total, has access to only 4% of the world's water resources. The success of our pilot project in Uttarakhand will encourage more farmers to switch to climate-friendly crops without sacrificing yield and profit."

After their Rabi harvest and before sowing Kharif, farmers in Udham Singh Nagar and surrounding areas in Uttar Pradesh (Rampur, Bareilly, and Pilibhit) customarily plant a short-term summer paddy crop. Gram Unnati discovered Maize to be a moderately profitable substitute for summer paddy after doing study. Maize is not just a short-duration crop that requires less water than paddy, but it also has a reputation for creating greater returns. Its several utilities, such as 'food,' 'fodder,' and 'feed,' help to protect farmers against low-demand scenarios.

"The trial experiment succeeded in converting 5,000 acres of land to spring maize, resulting in significant water savings of up to 4,000 litres per acre." On the same plot of land, the crop produced a 25% greater yield. This has shown to be an excellent example of ‘more produce per drop.' "The project also helped to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals such as poverty reduction, increased agricultural output, water judicious use, and long-term production," Jain noted.

The success of the initiative in Udham Singh Nagar, according to Jain, has inspired Gram Unnati to take on new challenges.

"In the following five years, Gram Unnati plans to expand this intervention to 100,000 acres of Spring Maize." Not only will this lessen reliance on groundwater supplies, but it will also help to make agriculture more profitable for farmers and environmentally sustainable," Jain added.

Because agriculture is India's largest consumer of fresh water, shifting from high-intensity to low-intensity crops like maize, pulses, millets, oilseeds, and other low-intensity crops has the potential to significantly reduce farmers' reliance on rainwater/ irrigation, while also enhancing farmers' capacity to better cope with climate change and, in the long run, making India more self-sufficient in these crops.

According to calculations, 90% of India's total extractable groundwater is used by agriculture each year to feed extremely water-intensive crops like rice, sugarcane, and wheat, which are typically grown in severely water-stressed areas of the nation. According to current Central Ground Water Board data, up to 30% of districts in India have reported 'critical' groundwater levels. Climate change is increasing the growing water shortage, with rising temperatures and unpredictable rainfall patterns.

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