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Best Practices

‘Best practices’ are understood to be viable models that conserve and regenerate environmental resources in the wake of climate change. Since climate change impacts poor people who depend on climate-sensitive resources for their livelihoods, best practices must secure these resources so that people’s livelihoods are in turn ensured. Additionally, livelihoods of both women and men must be secured with both women and men having the wherewithal to adapt to the changing nature of environmental resources.

This study found that several of the viable models or ‘best practices’ in different agro-climatic zones are very similar. The attempt here has been to show these similarities by showing how these best practices are followed in two different States from among the four selected States for this study.


These best practices have been briefly described below and then analysed from two perspectives:


1. The gender perspective, which assesses these practices around four axis – food security, labour input, time investment and income accrual
2. The policy perspective, which assesses what the government can do to benefit women through changes in its existing policies and/or programmes.


The best practices have been collected from primary and secondary data sources. Several of these are initiatives of AF’s partner organizations in this project. Others are initiatives taken by State governments through National or State-level programmes.

Practice

02 May, 2013

Women Farmers Garner Knowledge, Pool Agriculture Tools to Adapt to Climate Change

In eastern Uttar Pradesh, Village Resource Centres, with Farmer Field Schools, is an innovative and cost effective intervention that helps women farmers adapt to climate change.

In the flood plains of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG), a local NGO, has taken just such a step by setting up Village Resource Centres (VRCs) with a special focus on women farmers who undertake 60-80% of the agricultural work (GEAG Survey, 2006). This is an innovative and cost effective way to disseminate information on weather parameters and to provide easy and cheap access to climate-resilient varieties of seeds, bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides. The Centres also pool agricultural equipments like irrigation pipe, winnowing fan and spray machine for members to use.

Practice

09 Mar, 2014

Nutrition gardening can tackle malnutrition, poverty


In the last few years, malnutrition among the small and marginal farmer families in the Sunderbans, West Bengal, has further deteriorated. This has followed more frequent climate change-induced disasters like floods and cyclones which have destroyed acres of cropland.

Small and marginal farmers, especially women took up cropping of multiple food crops on the small plots around their homes to ensure them food and nutritional security through the year. Both in West Bengal and in the floodplains of Gorakhpur, East Uttar Pradesh, women farmers used their small front yard and/or backyard to grow different kinds of grains, pulses, vegetables and fruits through intercropping and crop rotation. Around 15-20 varieties of crops, including leafy and other vegetables, legumes, roots and tubers, spices and herbs, are grown in these gardens throughout the year. The different food crops fix soil nutrients.

Practice

09 Mar, 2014

The importance of managing Common Property Resources (CPRs)

West Bengal: Marginal and landless farming families of West Bengal suffer from chronic shortage of food, fodder and firewood, leading to male migration, which in turn increases the burden of work on women. The rapid disappearance of grazing lands along with reduced access to forests or common lands is creating an acute crisis for fodder. Conversely, common properties like fallow lands, water bodies, river and pond banks, embankments of irrigation canals, roads and railway tracks etc. either remain unutilized or are degraded due to overuse by communities, resulting in soil erosion and disruption of the local ecosystem. 


About six years ago, a local initiative began to revive fallow and degraded lands for use by local communities. Currently, across the State, this ‘common property resource (CPR) management’ has spread to over 50 groups comprising 1,055 members.

Practice

09 Mar, 2014

Rainwater harvesting and water management reduces drudgery

Uttarakhand: Abode of all rivers, the hilly regions of Uttarakhand are nevertheless beset by water scarcity. Villagers in districts Almora and Nainital are taking up roof rainwater harvesting with the help of a local organisation. Climate change, with erratic rainfall, higher temperatures, delayed snowfall and early drying of ponds, has further aggravated the problem. Rainwater harvesting has helped conserve water during monsoons for later use and also controlled soil erosion.

West Bengal: The Chhotonagpur range in the western region of West Bengal gets rain only for 2 months and faces drought the rest of the year. The soil on this undulated topography is rocky lateritic with very low water retention capacity. Excavation of ponds is difficult and expensive because the rocks are almost impenetrable. So the ponds are usually very shallow and, after the monsoons, cannot hold water till next summer. Wells also dry up in summer. Women have to spend 5 hours walking 5 Km daily to get water for their daily needs. 

Practice

11 Jun, 2014

Climate-resilient seeds and women's traditional knowledge

West Bengal: Farmers have gone back to growing local traditional paddy varieties, in contrast to high-yielding varieties available in government shops, in North and South 24 Paraganas districts. This has reduced input cost of farmers and led to higher yields in the saline floodwaters in these coastal districts.


Uttar Pradesh: In the eastern districts of Gorakhpur, climate change impacts have delayed rains, which now often come when the paddy is ripe for harvesting or has just been harvested in September-October. To adapt to this, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG) has been propagating Saatha, a traditional variety of paddy that matures early, or in 60 days (the number 60 is called ‘saath’ in Hindi).

Practice

11 Mar, 2014

Grain banks contribute to women's empowerment

Madhya Pradesh: The Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Project (MPRLP) is being implemented in nine districts of the State. Grain banks are one such initiative that is helping small and marginal farmers at the time of drought and crop failure.


Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal: Grain bank is based on the traditional concept of keeping aside a little grain everyday for use in times of distress. Grain banks are being promoted in the flood-prone regions of Gorakhpur district in Uttar Pradesh and in the Sunderbans in West Bengal. 

Practice

16 Jun, 2014

Organic Agriculture is resilient but more labourious

Madhya Pradesh: The State is unique in having a well-defined organic farming policy which is being implemented through the government’s agricultural extension network including the local centres called Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs).


Uttarakhand: The government’s National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is promoting organic agriculture in various ways.


Organic agriculture is also promoted by grassroots organizations in Gorakhpur, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and in the Sunderbans in West Bengal as part of integrated agriculture

Practice

16 Jun, 2014

Regeneration of Van Panchayats saves time and brings income

In the hill state of Uttarakhand, women have taken the lead in many places to save degraded forests around their villages because they depend on them for food, fodder and firewood. One such experiment in districts Almora and Nainital has led to the plantation of six to eight tree and shrub species in 15 villages. This initiative is by village Van Panchayats (van means forest in Hindi), a government scheme bringing together forest department officers and villagers to jointly manage village forests.

Practice

16 Jun, 2014

Better livestock management in hills helps women farmers

Women farmers, including landless women, rear livestock for food and income security. Livestock is an asset they often own, manage and control. Yet, getting fodder and water has always been difficult for hill women. Human-induced and climate change-led destruction of forests, soil erosion, depletion of perennial streams and erratic rainfall has made the situation worse. In the hills, livestock is particularly important because landholdings are small, fragmented and decreasing and women are the main farm workers. Livestock is a critical additional source of livelihood for farmer families.

Practice

16 Jun, 2014

Integrated Farming promotes traditional knowledge and climate resilience

Uttar Pradesh & West Bengal: An overwhelming 85% Indian farmers are small (1-2 ha of land) and marginal (less than 1 ha of land) and increasingly women. For these farmers, industrial mono-cropping with its high inputs and accessing large-scale government loans or schemes is not viable. What works for these small and marginal farmers is integrated farming, carried out in different geographical regions in different ways. With the increase in natural disasters, innovative use of these small lands and crop production has helped tide farmers through emergency times. In West Bengal, one such innovative method is called land shaping and in eastern Uttar Pradesh it’s called ‘machaan’ or multi-level cropping.