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How to Turn Drylands into Productive Areas?

The absence of trees, no rainfall has a direct impact on the planet. Our farmers are the ones who suffer the most because of water shortage.

Tooba Maher

The absence of trees, no rainfall has a direct impact on the planet. Our farmers are the ones who suffer the most because of the water shortage.  

Monsoon failures and sudden heavy downpours with flash floods wash away a major portion of the water and fertile topsoil into the ocean. Therefore, monsoon failure results in disaster for farmers, especially dryland cultivators.  

This article will provide you successful solutions of turning drylands into productive areas. 

1. Moisture Retention: 

Farmers who depend on rains should conserve every drop of water. This can be done by increasing moisture retention in the soil. His objective should be maximizing yield with less water and to achieve it, he should perform mixture cropping, tree growing, and animal breeding. Thus the by-product of one unit will serve as input for another and labor utilization will also be optimum. 

Keep in mind, dryland is not nature-made. They are man-made. When one goes on cutting trees, over a period of time the area becomes barren and unproductive due to the absence of surface water and groundwater recharge. Farmers then sell these drylands to traders who buy these lands for a throwaway price and sell it as commercial plots for a huge amount. 

2. Proper Planning: 

Proper planning and initial low investments drylands can be made productive, like cropping patterns have to be closely monitored. Farmers can also grow drought resistant native crops which need less water.  

These native varieties are also resistant to pests and infestations. Adding to it, farmers can dig small ponds, or pits in their fields. These serve as effective rain catchers. They can grow fishes like catla, roghu, mirgal and grass carper to get additional food and income when the pits get filled with rain water. 

3. Growing Azolla: 

Farmers who have cattle, can grow azolla in these water bodies. The azolla can be harvested and used as a feed for their cattle and poultry. It has been proved that azolla increases the milk yield in cattle and egg laying in chicken. 

The dung from their cattle can be applied over the time on the land. In about 3-5 years they can see how their lands are turning into productive areas. 

If there are trees in the area, farmers can collect the dried fallen leaves from the ground and apply them all over their lands as these leaves serve as effective mulches. They prevent evaporation of moisture from the soil and serve as shelters for earthworms. They act as effective weed suppressers. Any waste available, like kitchen waste, garbage (except polythene or plastic material) can be collected and converted into compost and then vermicompost. 

4. Sustainable Livelihood: 

Integrated multi culture is not only mitigating the impact of climate change but it also brings about sustainable livelihood for producer and consumer. This procedure takes time. It requires a minimum of 3-5 years of patience and labour to prepare the land for cultivation under proper guidance. 

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