Soil Protection and Rehabilitation for Food Security in India
Title: Soil Protection and Rehabilitation for Food Security in India
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Government of Germany
Lead executing agency: National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)
Overall term: 2014 – 2021
The majority of the Indian population (approximately 50 per cent) works in the farming sector. In India’s rural areas, local food security is still based on smallholder structures. Yet almost half of India’s territory (147 million hectares) is affected by land degradation caused by water and wind erosion as well as by soil salinisation and acidification due to maladapted agricultural practices or inappropriate irrigation. Cropping areas are under increasing pressure from high population growth, intensive land use and climate change. The Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are particularly affected by drought and erosion, which increase cropping risks for smallholder farms. State programmes and subsidies focus on irrigation systems and mineral fertilisers. It has not yet been possible to achieve widespread dissemination of practices for improving soil health. Public advisory services often reach only a fraction of the farmers and soil fertility is not specifically a component of their training. Positive experiences with regard to soil protection and soil fertility made by civil society organisations, the private sector or the scientific community often do not find consideration in policy-making processes.
Approaches for soil protection and rehabilitation in 53,000 hectares of land in selected areas are gradually implemented. Women apply the soil protection measures in 300 hectares of independently managed kitchen gardens. The yields on the treated land, on an average, have increased by 28 per cent. Additionally, implementation guidelines for two incentive mechanisms for soil fertility management, oriented towards the private sector and civil society have been made available.
Soil Protection and Rehabilitation for Food Security in India (ProSoil) supports two states, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, and seven districts in improving soil protection and rehabilitation practices using watersheds for an area-based approach. ProSoil India approach incorporates inclusive trainings, watershed treatment works and promotion of improved agronomic practices. Furthermore, protecting pasture land, soil fertility management and soil rehabilitation, soil health cards, water storage techniques, kitchen gardens, improved seeds, compost preparation and application are promoted. Within the project, NICE (Network for Information on Climate (Ex) change) complements and strengthens extension service in the regions. Providing a digital platform, it comprises features such as soil health parameters, weather information and farmer advice. Business models on organic soil manures from urban organic waste, being initiated under the project add new dimension within the Urban-Rural Cycle to close the carbon and nutrient loop. Experiences of project stakeholders with the approaches and ‘Best Practices’ are widely disseminated within the national and international communities of practice.
The project is jointly implemented with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and the local NGOs BAIF Development Research Foundation, the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) and the Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR).
As per end 2017, the project activities have reached 11,380 farmers. 40 per cent of them are women. A total area of 35,526 hectares has been covered with implementing sustainable agricultural measures and more than 9,000 soil health cards have been issued.