Agro-based activities such as Agriculture, Horticulture, Biogas Generation and Animal Husbandry continue to be the mainstay of the rural economy in and around the plant location. With the intention of boosting the prospect of agriculture, several initiatives were undertaken by GHCL Foundation. Adding to the efforts was also supporting dairy based livelihoods. The activities carried out by GHCL Foundation during the year included.
Our agro based support programmes are localized largely in Sutrapada of Gir-Somnath district.
Agriculturists: Several activities were carried out to promote agriculture in the villages around Sutrapada. Though the number of villages varied across each of these activities – the effort of agriculture had touched almost all the GHCL Foundation villages of Sutrapada. The work on agriculture included building capacity of the farmers through training, field demonstration, exposure visits. Trainings were conducted with the farmers both at farm and off farm. Support of Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Kodinar was obtained to carry out institutional training. It also included providing to the farmers better quality fertilizers. The effort during the year had been to help farmers shift from the inorganic to the organic regime.
550 Farmers were provided with better quality organic manure at 50 % of its market costs. In addition farmers were also motivated to start their own production of organic manure. Demonstration of vermin compost pits were also done with some farmers so as to create demonstration for such practices in the respective villages. Farmers were also supported with demonstration of innovative agricultural practices. This was done to help farmers augment income and have the advantage of double cropping and also using the intercropping crops to act as host plants for the pests. Farmers were also provided with monetary incentives for adopting sprinklers and drips. The water saving technologies has today reached to over 4430 hectares (300 hectares under drip and 4130 hectares under Sprinklers).
The Crop demonstration work included supporting farmers (26) for adopting high density cotton crops. The purpose behind this is to harvest the crops after the second or the third pick of cotton and use the land for another crop during the Rabi season. The farmers (47) were also provided with demonstration of Cotton with Maize. The sucking pest found maize corns sweet and thus devoured on the kernels of maize leaving the cotton balls. During the year demonstration of pheromone traps on cotton crops was also done with 183 farmers. During the Rabi season farmers going in for Wheat were provided with demonstration of a saline resistant variety of wheat. Five demonstration of Karnal 210 variety of saline resistant wheat was done during the year. Similarly demonstration of Wheat with Lucerne was also done. This demonstration was intended to give an additional income and also green fodder for the animals. The Lucerne establishes itself in the in-situ moisture of wheat crops.
Horticulture: Both vegetable and fruit crop was promoted by GHCL Foundation in the villages. Kitchen gardening kit was supplied to over 3000 farmers at 50 % of its cost of Rs 80 per packet. The kit contained 10 different varieties of seeds and can be used in over a Guntha (100sq metres of land). Horticulture trees particularly Coconut, Sapota, Amla, Lemon and Guava are varieties that grow well. They also provide perennial green vegetation in the area and also serve as border fencing for IPM. They are also the host plants for birds that feed upon the pests. Farmers paid 50 % of the costs of the saplings which came at a cost of Rs 45 to them. Over 40000 coconut saplings were provided to farmers during the year. Another 3304 saplings of Lemon, Amla, Sapota were also bought by farmers. This programme benefitted 612 farmers from 44 villages.
One of the mainstream programmes on cotton had been with Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). Over 1680 farmers from 34 villages were involved in adopting practices suggested under BCI. The 72 Learning groups formed out of the 1680 farmers practiced growing better cotton in over 700 hectares of land. However, with bio control efforts to control the pink bollworm did not work particularly with the long duration cotton crop. The Pink boll worm have developed resistant due to multiple generation of the BT varieties in the area. This phenomenon is not just limited to Sutrapada villages but is a worldwide phenomenon. The prices too had not been enough and farmers are planning to shift to growing Ground nut – something that they grew earlier as well.
Biogas Producers: Another initiative with regards to agriculture had been the promotion of Bio Gas. An experiment with HDPE material modular structure called SYM BIOGAS was tried out with 4 farmers. The SYM BIO GAS modular unit comes at a cost of Rs. 35000. Farmers contributed Rs. 15000 whereas the rest came from the FINISH SOCIETY. GHCL provided a onetime support of Rs. 5000 to promote for the coast of erection. The bio gas plants is understood to be more efficient and apart from the gas that it produces the slurry is of a better quality and could be directly used as organic material for agriculture.
Animal Husbandry Project: The focus of veterinary services at Sutrapada had been on Veterinary care and Artificial insemination. The services on Veterinary care were extended to 977 Buffaloes, 3096 Animals (Cows) and 10958 small ruminants belonging to 977 households. This was carried out through organizing 15 veterinary camps in 15 villages during the year. GHCL provided for the cost of medicines for the treatment and the associated administrative costs of the camps. Support to this was extended by the doctor from the Government Veterinary outpost. The artificial insemination (AI) services were carried out by BAIF was done in 9 villages. A total of 1021 AI was conducted on cows and 602 on Buffaloes. The farmers seeking for the AI services paid an amount of Rs 50 per AI. The focus of AI had been on two dominant breeds namely Gir Breed for Cows and Jafrabadi for Buffaloes.