The goal of the Trusts' intervention in Vidarbha is to promote sustainable agricultural practices, while at the same time increase the adoption of validated Packages of Practices (PoPs)for crops to reduce the cost of cultivation and increase productivity under rain-fed conditions. Till date, the project has covered 20,000 households in 201 villages.
Key interventions include promoting:
Adoption of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Integrated Nutrient Management: (INM) techniques (pest scouting, application of recommended pesticide, proper dose and method for pesticide application, balanced use of fertilisers, foliar application of fertilisers): Validated PoPs recommended by the agricultural university Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth, Akola, for cotton, soya bean, red gram, gram and wheat implemented in collaboration with eight partner organisations in six districts of Vidarbha to disseminate IPM and INM techniques among 20,000 farmers through 201 trained krishi doots. The krishi doots each conducted on-field trainings across 201 villages, imparting scientific and recommended technical information among the farmers at critical crop growth stages, and in each project village demonstration plots for cotton, soya bean, gram and wheat were developed to showcase and demonstrate IPM and INM techniques. Judicious plant protection and balanced fertiliser use is an important thrust area of the project. It emphasised the use of appropriate pesticides and fertilisers if required. In order to reduce the cost of fertilisers, vermi-composting was also introduced in some villages.
Diversification of crops: Crop diversification impacted soil health improvement. The diversified crops provided a greater income throughout the year. Introduction of new crop or cropping system helped to increase yield, and 2,772 farmers were encouraged to introduce new crops such as onions, garlic and short-duration vegetables across 389.6 acres during the rabi season. In the kharif season, 8,726 farmers intercropped their cotton and soya bean crops by cultivating jowar, moong, udad, maize and vegetables across 7,447 acres with the help of knowledge inputs from implementing agencies under SBI.
Development of tree-based farming systems: Tree-based farming systems were also introduced in project villages, under which seven village-level nurseries developed by self-help groups trained in nursery management ensured the timely supply of 23,946 papaya trees and 10,000 drumstick plants, which were transplanted to the fields. Training was provided to 430 farmers in the after-care of these trees. This would lead to an additional increased income per annum once the plants began bearing fruit.
Implementation of a PoP for the both kharif and rabi crops: The Trusts demonstrated the effects of PoPs on one-acre plots of cotton, soya bean and tur in each village for the kharif season, and gram and wheat plots across the project area during the rabi season. They also supported 795 participant families with the cultivation of hybrid Napier, and 1,272 families with the cultivation of fodder crops such as African tall maize, cow pea and multi-cut jowar.
IPM dissemination will continue with over 500 krishi doots covering 500 villages from six district of Vidarbha, who will act as local resources to provide farmers with technical advice on good agricultural practices. They will eventually train around 50,000 farmers. The Trusts will also set up Village Information Centres in each village to disseminate relevant information to farmers.