On the concluding day of the SATNET intraregional Visit for Smallholder Value Chain Actors in India (6 September 2014), the participants saw the floating vegetable garden technology bring promoted by Concern Universal and the Rashtriya Gramin Vikas Nidhi with technical support from Helvetas in selected districts of the state of Assam in northeast India. In the backdrop of climate change, this technology is especially relevant for food and nutrition security of vulnerable groups in flood prone areas. Water hyacinth, which is usually considered unproductive, is collected, beaten with sticks to form a floating bed, and allowed to decompose for 20 days. The bed of decomposed hyacinth is then used to grow vegetables which is otherwise not possible to do in the rainy season. Moreover, once the vegetable cultivation is over, the fertile decomposed water hyacinth material is compressed into compact balls and used for raising vegetable seedlings in a home nursery. The seedlings are then transplanted into the field once flood waters recede, thus reducing the time required to grow vegetables by around 20 days. Given its potential for addressing nutrition security, the floating vegetable garden technology was enthusiastically received by participants with in-depth interaction taking place with the local farmers.
At other sites visited on the day, the participants were given a practical demonstration of a low-cost innovation for making a Vermicompost pit. Usually a concrete pit is recommended, but this can prove expensive for farmers. The cost can be reduced by making a pit within a bamboo frame, enclosed from the sides and below with a sheet of plastic. Layers of organic matter, cow dung and soil are added in addition to earthworms. The compost created is very rich in nutrients. The liquid by-product obtained in the process is also good for soil application as a growth promoter.
Upon return to Delhi at the end of the day, a brief wrap-up session was conducted to obtain feedback from farmers and to award them certificates of participation. The participants highlighted the usefulness of the practical exposure they had gained as well as the learning about new ways of implementing existing processes. Organic farming practices and certification, preparation of bio-inputs for pest management and enhancing plant growth, and the floating vegetable garden technology were found to be particularly valuable. The participants committed to applying the knowledge gained for promoting sustainable agriculture in their own communities.
Posted by SATNET Asia