Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Dheeraj Singh

ICAR-Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Central Arid Zone Research Institute,India

Small biodiversified farm for perennial food and nutritional security in arid zone: A case study from Rajasthan, India

Dheeraj Singh,Chandan Kumar,M K Chaudhary and M L Meena

The case study presents a precise review of Mr. Madan Lal Deora, a progressive farmer of Pali, district of Rajasthan in India who had established himself as a successful farmer adopting diversified farming system.  He had adopted multiple cropping and farming system on his farm which is 2.5 hectare in area by growing legumes, cereals, oilseeds, pulses, medicinal plants and forest plants alongwith horticultural crops including fruits and vegetables.

The case study is an excellent example where one can find more than 100 cultivated and natural species of plants growing in close harmony supplementing each other.

The crops include wheat (Triticum aestivum), maize (Zea mays), barley (Hordeum vulgare), oats (Avena spp.), jowar (Sorghum bicolor), bajra (Pennisetum americanum), mustard (Brassica nigra) and til (Sesamum indicum). In spices one can find cumin, fennel, fenugreek and dill in fruits the major plants are Drumstick (Moringa olerifera), Ber (Zizyphus maurtiana), Mulbery (Ficus alba), Jamun (Sygigium cumuni), Aonla (Emblica officinalis), Custard apple (Annona squmosa), Gonada (Cardia myxa) and Fig (ficus carica). In vegetables the farmer is growing mint (Mentha Arvensis), spinach (Basella alba), okra (Hibiscus esculenta), tomato (Lycopersicon  esculentum), ginger (Asarum canadense), red and green chillies (Capsicum annum),carrot (Daucus carota), coriander leaves (Coriandrum sativum) and fenugreek (Trigonella).

The farm structure contributes to biodiversity, a diverse and esthetically pleasing rural landscape, and open space.

In wild plants we can find Phog (Calligonum polygonoides), Angreji babool (Prosopis juliflora), Bordi (Ziziphus nummularia), Lana (Haloxylon salicorniourn),Bawli (Acaacia jacquernontii), Gugal (Cornrniphora wighti), Henna (Lawsonia inermis), Anwal (Cassia ouriculate),  Kair (Capperis decidua), Ber (Ziziphus nummularia) and Kheep growing on the farm boundary. 

In general we can see an entire biosphere of the arid zone vegetation with cultivated plants in a small farm. The farm embodies a diversity of cropping systems, of farming systems, of landscapes, of biological organization, culture and traditions. The forested areas from which wild foods, and leaf litter are extracted, the wood lot, the farm itself with intercropping, agroforestry, and large and small livestock, the fish pond, the backyard garden, allow for the preservation of hundreds if not thousands of wild and cultivated species.

Proper management of the natural resources of soil and, water, produces significant environmental benefits for society. The benefits of farms extend beyond the economic sphere. To begin with, Mr Madan utilizes a broad array of resources and has a vested interest in their sustainability. At the same time, his farming system is diverse, incorporating and preserving significant functional biodiversity within the farm. By preserving biodiversity, open space and trees, and by reducing land degradation, the farm provides valuable ecosystem services to the larger society. Along with agriculture the farmer is having livestock which yields milk and the dung is converted into valuable vermicompost. He had also turned himself into an entrepreneur by processing and value addition to his farm produce through a tunnel drier.  The solar tunnel dryer is a poly house framed structure with UV-stabilized polythene sheet, where products on large scale could be dried under controlled environment. The enterprise consists of different value added products of typical Indian fruits and vegetables including juice, squash, candy, powder, pickle, dry aonla, churan tablets, preserve and ladoos. All the products are purely organic have high demand in the local and regional market. Thus this model of multifunctional small farm which integrate crops, horticulture, livestock and natural vegetation is key to sustainable development in countries dominated by small farms.