Climate smart crops
Tubers, pulses and millets are important for the livelihoods and nutrition of poor farmers, especially in fragile regions. These crops are not only underutilised, but are also under-researched. Ama Sangathan, a women federation consisting of 1200 indigenous women, have revived these crops in two blocks in Odisha, by their vibrant campaigning.
In Odisha State of India, tubers, pulses and millets had traditional place in the diet of the tribal communities. They ensured food and nutritional security during periods of food scarcity. However, with commercialisation of agriculture leading to monocropping systems of cultivation of paddy, these traditional food crops lost their place in the cropping systems. Also, extensive application of chemical inputs has resulted in decreasing natural fertility of the soil with diminishing yield. To make the situation worse, in recent years, Odisha’s vulnerability to natural disaster has been alarming. Recurrent cyclones, floods, and droughts severely affect the livelihood of the majority resource poor farmers of the State.
It is in this grim situation, Ama Sangathan (AMS), a women federation representing 1200 indigenous women has undertaken a vibrant campaigning on reviving cultivation of tubers, pulses, millets. This is being done in two blocks – Kashipur of Rayagada and Thuamulrampur of Kalahandi districts, with the support of Raghuraj Foundation.
The bargaining and negotiation skills of women farmers improved and their contribution to supplementing household income is being recognised.
Tuber crops adapt to a wide range of agro-climatic conditions and give good performance even under marginal growing conditions. These crops cease tuber development as well as vegetative growth and become dormant during unfavourable conditions such as drought, flood, and heat-stress condition. They resume growth during favourable conditions, hence chances of crop failure is very less. On the other hand, pulses and millets which are an important component of food and nutritional security of the poor, need less water and produce assured and high yield.