To double the income of marginal farmers by implementing integrated fish farming system in the coastal belt of Maharashtra state.
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Vigyan ashram (a lead organization) is implementing its rural school-based technology transfer & skill training program in the coastal belt of Maharashtra state. Programm is known as Introduction to Basic Technology (IBT). At present IBT program is been implemented in 20 + School of this region. IBT program emphasis on providing skill training to high-school students by introducing different appropriate technologies and connecting it through their regular school curriculum. (http://www.myibtschool.com/) is Each school is roughly connected to 10 to 15 small villages covering a large geographical area. This will help us in leveraging our existing network in the identification of beneficiary, data collection, implementation and impact assessment of our intervention.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
The coastal belt of Maharashtra state commonly known as Konkan coast having 720 Km of coastline. This region situated on the edges of ‘Sahydri’ mountain known as ‘western ghat’. This is one of the globally recognized biodiversity hotspots with more than 325 globally threaded wildlife species. This region includes 7 districts of Maharashtra state with a population of around 2.873 corer as per 2011 census. Due to coastal line with adjoining mountain picks climatic condition here are hot & humid almost round-the-year with an average annual rainfall of 3000 to 5000 mm. Primary occupation of region is agricultural & allied activities with almost a mono-culture of low-land rice cultivation & some of horticultural plantation like cashew, coconut etc. Regions occupy around 30,746 km2 cultivable agricultural land with less than 13 % under permanent irrigation facility. Due to sloppy and fragmented lands, lack of irrigation and very heavy rainfall during monsoon months, the net output from farming activities are very poor. This leads to very heavy migration of youth for livelihood opportunities in metros like Mumbai, Pune. It's estimated that almost 80 % of working youth population are working in metros further intensifying development challenges of this region.
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Zero hunger is one of the important target in Sustainable Development Goals. Malnutrition is one of the big challenges of the Indian subcontinent. Though we are self-sufficient in food grain production, almost 73 % of the Indian population is facing protein deficiency. Further to this, reports say that almost 58 % of Indian farmers are willing to leave farming for other better opportunity. At present, Indian farmer earns around Rs.6400 / month/ hector (http://www.thehindu.com/data/does-it-pay-to-be-a-farmer-in-india/article10895031.ece) which is very substantial income looking into other occupations & basic economic requirements. The area’s like Konkan region are the worse affected under this scenario.
Apart from meteorological changes due to climate change, Sahydri ranges are also facing the heavy burden of demographical demand for urbanization, infrastructure & industrial development. The region earlier know for its flush green mountain hills, clean & shiny coastal beaches and traditional rural life are now facing immense developmental challenges. Due to urbanization and coastal industrial development, the bio-diversity of the region is under threat. Non-availability of permanent irrigation facility, mono-culture of rice farming and overall non-sustainable agricultural income forcing rural youth to migrate to nearby metro’s. This is leading to non-skilled and lower productive workforce at villages further lowering the standard of living & aspiration of future generations. Change in agro-climatic patterns due to climate change, deteriorating soil nutrition (particularly soil organic carbon), increased use of chemical fertilizers & pesticides, non-availability of skilled manpower, higher input cost & lowering per unit production capability of land are going to be big challenges. They will increase the divide between haves and have-nots in society. In coming days region will face a lack of basic infrastructure facilities like safe drinking water, lack of quality health & education infrastructure etc in small villages. Due to migration urban area will face overburden of migrated population issues like damaging natural resources, lack of proper housing & educational facilities, increased inflation, lower wages etc. This will affect the food security of the region due to deteriorating natural resources, non-lucrative agricultural opportunity & over-dependency on other regions for agricultural goods.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Our vision is to develop an economically feasible & sustainable agricultural business model for marginal farmers of Konkan region. We would like to implement a ‘ fish farming based integrated farming system’ for marginal farmers in this region. This model is based on efficient use of ‘nutrient cycle’ with higher net output per unit area. Model is based on the integration of technologies like Azolla cultivation, fish farming in an indigenously designed aquaponics system and climatic control vegetable cultivation. Model is designed & field-tested considering resources of marginal farmer (landholding below 1 hector). Following are important features of our system –
- A climatic control vegetable cultivation – Though Konkan region has a temperate climate throughout the region, monsoon months (June to September) receives very heavy rainfalls limiting only rice cultivation in monsoons. Our system has a low cost polytunnel ( greenhouse of 500 Sq ft) which will allow farmers to grow vegetable throughout year with sustainable income. Vegetables are cultivated in deep-bed hydroponics system for better space utilization & productivity. It also host Azolla growing beds, which will be used as low-cost fish feed.
- A fish tank- Trapezoid shape HDPE paper-lined fish tank (400 Sq ft) of 60000 lit volume with sludge removal, siphon based waster circulation and oxygenation provision. This provides farmers with water security during summer months to extend their cropping also gives extra income from high-density fish farming.
- Water circulation system- Polytunnel and fish tanks are connected to each other through siphon based circulation system. It recycles vital plant nutrient which otherwise runoff due to heavy rainfall and also helps to extend cropping season by avoiding percolation & evaporation losses.
- Smart sensor climatic controls & live fish feed – Our systems have an indigenously made low-cost temperature, humidity, water circulation control systems which will ease daily operations & doesn’t require skilled manpower. We have also focused on locally demanded fish breeds & live feed (Azolla, biofloc, maggot rearing) systems so has keep the operational cost affordable to target farmers.
We have been working on the above systems and conducted various field trials during the past 2 years to prove its applicability. Return On Investment (ROI) of our system is 2 to 3 years with affordable capital investment. Our innovation is the utilization of local resources & integrate them in a scientifically, economical & sustainable way. Results so far are encouraging and we are hoping to reach needy population in effective & efficient way.