Wadi: a holistic model for reinforcing livelihood in hilly rainfed region in India by Abhijit Mohanty
Koraput district of Odisha in India is endowed with abundant natural resources and is mainly inhabited by the indigenous communities, belonging to the Paraja and Kondho tribes who primarily depend on subsistence farming. Rainfed uplands situated between hillocks and bottom-valleys, locally known as “Dangar Jami”, constitute the major portion of the arable land in the region. Millets and paddy cultivated predominantly as rainfed crops in about 90 percent of the cropped area by the farmers as direct seeded upland crops along with other food crops.
Inter-cropping and mixed-cropping of various millets, cereals, pulses, oil seeds practices by farmers helps to diversify crop cultivation and insures against crop loss due to biotic or abiotic factors. It helps to increase the cropping intensity, resulting in optimized utilization of soil, water, nutrient and sunlight and increased productivity and profit. With the introduction of hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides to increase the production in this region, indigenous seeds, food sources and bio-diversity are facing a severe threat to their existence while many traditional seed varieties are being lost. Hybrid varieties require substantial investments, and its yield fluctuates due to the slightest change in the climate causing economic hardships on the farmers. They also cause ecological imbalance due to high utilization of chemical inputs. Moreover, the modern hybrid seeds have failed to withstand recurrent droughts and other climatic extremities leading to increased uncertainty of food production. In this region many farmers after being tempted to buy hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides, expecting a high yield have been trapped into the vortex of indebtedness to local money lenders. The requirement for long lasting solutions to these issues have required a revisit into the traditional methods for sustainable and eco-friendly practice.