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Wayanad Farmer Finds Innovative Solution to Prevent Desertification

One of the serious threats being faced by the residents along the Kerala-Karnataka border of Wayanad district, especially in villages on the north eastern tip of the Deccan Plateau, after the massive destruction of bamboo groves.

Shivangi Rai
Bhaskaran on his five-year-old Bambusetum at Pulpally in Wayanad district.
Bhaskaran on his five-year-old Bambusetum at Pulpally in Wayanad district.

Desertification is one of the serious threats being faced by the residents along the Kerala-Karnataka border of Wayanad district, especially in villages on the north eastern tip of the Deccan Plateau, after the mass destruction of bamboo groves.

Though, a progressive farmer has developed a sustainable mode of mitigation with the support of the Soil Conservation Department. On 3.5 acres of land near Pulpally, Bhaskaran has set the Bambusetum model by planting the selected species of bamboo.

Five years ago, as many as 1,400 saplings of bamboo were planted on the swampy land with the financial assistance of the Soil Conservation Department, said Mr. Bhaskaran. He added that the maintenance and management cost was negligible. Further, he said, making channels and water outlets to drain out the excess water was the activity to be taken care of in every garden, without which the seedlings would be damaged.

P.U. Das, former district soil conservation officer said, the model was a live example of preserving soil, water, and biodiversity. The soil moisture content was rich, the water retention capacity of the soil had increased and the organic carbon in the soil had doubled, he added.

There was a considerable improvement in biodiversity, especially the bird diversity in the bambusetum. He said that 20 different types of birds could be observed in the garden, and many of them had built nests there.

A stream inside the plantation used to dry up in November, but turned perennial after the bamboo saplings were planted, said Mr. Bhaskaran.

The farmer has also started selling bamboo pods, weighing 8 kg to 10 kg at ₹6 per kg.

According to Joseph John, a scientist at the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in this city, bamboo is a fast-growing plant species that might readily change the present ecological situation and absorb more atmospheric carbon dioxide.

He said that since the bamboo root system could shield and cover large areas of land, erosion caused by heavy rains and flooding could be avoided. The little bambusetum, Mr. Joseph continued, may restore the hill district's microclimate.

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