Sowing Seeds of Innovation

In the past decade, Madhya Pradesh has become the second largest supplier of wheat after Punjab, with annual procurements rising from 3 lakh tonnes to 75 lakh tonnes.(1)

Sadly, the remarkable success of the state especially in the tribal dominated disadvantaged districts is challenged by the topography, small land holdings, monsoon dependent farming, low productivity as well as dependency on ancestral farming. In addition, the state is speculated to have a consecutive second year of drought, which will inflict severe losses on produce. The state has declared 35 of its 51 districts as drought-affected. As per data made available by the government, at least 1,108 farmers committed suicide in the state in 2014 (Source). In order to make innovation more sustainable in this part of the state, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) initiated the National Agricultural Innovation Sub Project to introduce ways towards improved vegetable cultivation especially through integrated farming.

Through the program and consequent assistance received, farmers are adopting innovations to overcome natural hurdles. One such example is that of a farmer- Ramesh Bariya, from Rotla village in the Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh. During the early growing stage of crops such as bitter gourd, sponge gourd, he faced acute shortage of irrigation water due to delayed monsoons. Ramesh was worried about crop failure but was determined to save them. Therefore, he adopted an innovative irrigation technique using waste glucose bottles. He purchased 6kg waste glucose bottles (approx. 350 units) for Rs. 20/kg and cut the upper bottom for filling water. He then hung these bottles on the top of the field with the help of plants. The valve of the bottle was used for gradual supply of water. Through this innovative technique, Ramesh was able to have a bumper crop despite the drought and ICAR reported that he has had a net profit of Rs.15200/- from just 0.1 ha land till date (Source). Setting an example for many more farmers, Ramesh was duly awarded by the Madhya Pradesh state government for being open to innovation and finding a solution to one of the most critical problems in the state.

Through this case study, one is more convinced that if every farmer at the grass-root level starts thinking and working innovatively to solve problems, a permanent and long term solution can be found. The answer lies in technology, and not in quitting or waiting for someone else to come and help.