Project Sahajeevan – Intercropping farming based agroforestry
Sahajeevan is a Marathi word for Symbiotic. As we are bringing the symbiotic relationship of trees into agriculture through agroforestry.
Watch this documentary of our agroforestry project:
We at AGRO RANGERS, rejuvenating the soil affected due to chemical farming practices. Harmful chemical farming practices have reduced soil organic carbon less than 0.5%.
We tested over 5000 soil samples from our area which made us realise that the organic carbon level of the soil was depleted. And they were dangerously as low as 0.5% when actually they should be more than 1%. This means soil quality has been degraded from the chemical farming practices so much so that within 15 to 20 years our land is going to be infertile just like a desert.
The root cause of soil degradation is harmful chemical farming practices. Farmers add more chemical fertilisers in farmlands expecting more yields. These excessive chemicals degrade soil quality and produce low-quality food; which ultimately results in less income. Farmers are trapped in this vicious cycle without them realising it and 30-40 years of practices have made soil nutrient deficient.
All these practices contribute to climate change, Climate change is a reality we can’t deny. When it’s not supposed to rain, it rains heavily, when they’re expecting rain, drought falls. There are so many issues going on. That is from the top and bottom is not helping either.
The land that the farmers work on, that land is degraded, and the quality of the soil is so bad, pest attacks happen. What can the farmer in the middle do? How can he grow the crops?
Every force being against them, they either Quit farming and migrate to cities as underpaid daily wage labourers where their invaluable agriculture knowledge and experience go wasted.
And ones who do not quit farming just quit their lives.
Can you imagine 15 farmers committed suicide every day in the year 2021? That is about 5000 farmers. 5000 might be the number of people who live in a city dwelling in a gated community. That’s a number of people who die in a year just because they are so dejected and they’ve lost all hope.
SO, this is the current scenario in the Indian agriculture sector !
What is the solution then?
Existing farming methods are not economically or environmentally sustainable any more.
So what are the alternatives?
To stop soil degradation, we have to stop using harmful chemicals and need to use alternative biofertilizers. To find a solution for this naturally, we turned to organic farming first. As organic farming was the only option for chemical-free farming practices. Our results were promising, the soil quality was getting better by the day.
But meanwhile, we understood that it takes about 3 years to improve soil quality. What do we do with poor and marginal landholder farmers who don’t have so much time? Somebody will commit suicide in 3 years, somebody will quit farming and move to the city in 3 years.
We understood that these chemicals are the main root cause which needs to be changed into biofertilizers which can stop soil degradation and start rejuvenation of the soil. But again biofertilizers are more expensive than chemicals as the chemical fertilisers get subsidies from the government. So to use biofertilizers, it needs to be subsidised or needed supplementary income to incentivize the cost.
But subsidising can be only done by the government as it has to use it multiple times so AGRO RANGERS went through a learning journey, on a mission to figure out the best possible method to rejuvenate our soil and to build economic resilience.
For this, we took Dadabhau. Dadabhau is a farmer who has been doing organic farming for 18 years. He has 3 acres of land on which he was primarily doing organic farming but it was very difficult to make economically viable.
We asked him to give us 1 acre of land for one year. We promised him that we will do some changes and we will help him with his income. Dadabhau was more than happy to trust us.
That’s when we came across AGROFORESTRY.
So what is Agroforestry? As you have noticed there is the forest in the term itself. Have you ever been to a forest? You will see a wide variety of trees and plants thriving together. Nobody supplements the forest with fertilisers or manures, but the ecosystem sustains itself through a symbiotic relationship. Through Agroforestry we are bringing that symbiotic relationship into agriculture.
That’s the model we tried on one acre of farmland and we used multi-cropping methods to rejuvenate the soil. As we have sown some pulses crops in distance between fruit trees which help each other with nutrients. Pulses crops give nitrogen to fruit crops and fruit crops fix carbon for pulses crops. These symbiotic relationships and plant compatibility helps to sustain soil nutrient requirements without needing any chemicals.
Through Agroforestry Dadabhau generated over 2.5 lahks per annum from just one acre of land. There has been a 5 times increase in revenue. Not only that, there was also a 30 per cent reduction in input cost.
And this is our crazy goal. We won’t stop with one Dadabhau. We want to replicate the magic we did with Dadabhau with 2000 more farmers. That is 2000 happy families.
This is our mission and everyone’s responsibility too to make farming viable. So we can stop suicides and migration of farmers.
Through these 2000 acres of farmlands, we want to increase farmers’ income by up to 2 lakh rupees per year, increase Soil organic carbon by 1% and sequester 25000 tons of carbon in the next 3 years.
For this, we are running the following program for farmers to support farmers in agroforestry implementation with fruit saplings, drip irrigation systems, biofertilizers and training and guidance support.
AGRO RANGERS empowering marginal and small landholder farmer's by rejuvenating their farmland through regenerative organic farming. We are mitigating climate change effect by restoring atmospheric carbon in to the soil to cultivate land under full organic potential.