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NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT

From 2010 onwards, Laya has facilitated land development under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in 1300 acres, which includes 80 villages from 23 Panchayats in the East Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts. This involves the clearance of bushes, removal of dead tree stumps, land leveling, bunding and developing compost pits at the household level.

Promotion of system of rice intensification (SRI) in 'pallam' lands (wet lands):

This practice has proven yield with an average increase of 30-40% in productivity as compared to conventional rice cultivation (Field studies have shown that the average yield (per acre) of conventional rice cultivation is 750 kg whereas in SRI it is 1050 kg, an increase of 300 kg).

Promotion of mixed traditional crops:

Mixed cropping is a traditional practice of tribal communities. The induced technologies/practices promoted by the government have changed their cropping pattern. These technologies (cash crops such as cotton, tobacco and tapioca) are often not relevant to the local conditions and there is a lot of fluctuation in the productivity, particularly in the East Godavari tribal area. Hence, the facilitation of tribal farmers to restore their traditional practice of mixed crops cultivation.

Agro-forestry and forest regeneration in forest areas with economically viable species:

This is especially relevant in degraded 'podu' (hill-slope lands) lands where there is sparse vegetation on the hills and surrounding areas. It is important thus to promote fast growing Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) species as well as fuel-wood species to meet local livelihood needs in the village and reserved forest areas.

Fruit bearing tree species (horticulture):

As part of a future income security measure Laya facilitates the planting of fruit bearing trees in the adivasi areas. The species promoted are mango, sapota, custard apple, pineapple, guava, citrus and cashew varieties because the mortality rate in these species is low and they have a high nutritional value.

Vegetable cultivation:

Laya encourages vegetable cultivation in backyard kitchen gardens in 'garuvulu' (less-gradient lands) by providing dry fencing with a plot size of about 50 cents. These gardens are provided with a selection of nutritious vegetable seedlings to take care of their basic domestic nutrition needs and also enables a small surplus for their cash needs.

Watershed Development Based Initiatives

  • Soil and moisture conservation:
    This is done through percolation tanks, rock-fill dams, terracing, new farm bunds, stone bunds and vegetative barriers including the removal of stumps and levelling. These interventions on the land will aid in retaining moisture during extended dry spells.
  • Promotion of organic manures at the household level:
    The current practice of agriculture (mainly due to cash crops) in some of the adivasi areas has caused high incidences of soil erosion and therefore reduced soil fertility. Compost pits and restoration of traditional manure development practices will help in revitalizing soil fertility.
  • Exploring means for renewable irrigation systems:
    Integrated in this mechanism is the idea to introduce hydro-rams. These are pumps that work on the natural gravity flow of streams that are perennial to facilitate a constant flow of small amounts of water. It is also dependent on the nature of the site.

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