Bolangir is among the most underdeveloped districts of Orissa, characterized by recurrent droughts and crop failures. AFPRO conceived of a project to develop a simple, cost-effective model for drought-proofing the area by using in-situ soil moisture and a diverse cropping pattern to ensure food security. 125 farmers from 5 villages are past of the exercise, which uses a combination of technology and information dissemination. The project is mainly aimed at providing alternate sources of livelihood by growing herbal plants and uses a technique called the 60:40 technique. The 60:40 technique uses 60 per cent of the agricultural land to grow the main crop, and leaves the other 40 per cent to grow other crops, thus reducing the pressure on the land. The program also promotes the Jaldhara and 5% models to conserve soil moisture. Multi-tier cropping based on a combination of agriculture, silviculture, horticulture and herbal plants. About 121 acres are being treated with these technologies. The main thrust of the program has been to popularize the use of these technologies to beat the drought. Farmers have been exposed to all these technologies through training programmes and exposure visits. Soil test kits have been distributed in the project villages.
Bridging the gap between available technology to combat drought and community practices, the project is a small step towards enhancing the community’s resource base.