Bamboo based agroforestry system has transformed the life of a farmer in Bundelkhand
Bundelkhand a hot spot of water scarcity earned dubious distinction of miserable rural life due to frequent crop failures on account of frequent droughts and changing climate of late. The region is known for its mineral wealth and large population earns its livelihood from extraction of stones, sand and other minerals. However, industrial development of the region could not take place at desired rate due to water and electricity scarcity.
Under such circumstances, bamboo the green gold has shown ray of hope. Lathi Baans (Dendrocalamus strictus) commonly occurs in this region. This is a solid bamboo and often grows clumsy due to water scarcity. As such exploitation of its culm is difficult. Hollow bamboo (Pola Baans), which can be used for ladder and artifacts is in great demand by the farmers. ICAR-CAFRI under one of its network project on bamboo (National Bamboo Mission) introduced Bambusa vulgaris, B. tulda and D. strictus and evaluated for its growth and productivity under agroforestry system. Sh. Ram Singh s/o Shri Sarman village Hastinapur, Ambawai of Jhansi District (U.P.) was a humble farmer. He had 7.0 acres land and supported 10 members family. His holding on outskirts of village habitat was quite approachable for him. With the persuasion of the ICAR-CAFRI scientists the farmer
agreed to plant B. vulgaris on the bunds as a component of National Bamboo Mission Project in 2008. Considering farmers choice, 85 plants were planted on field boundary spaced 4.0 m apart. The farmer took keen interest in protecting and took due care of plants and established a land mark demonstration site for neighbours besides sustained additional earning defying ill effects of climate change. Several farmers approaching this institute to seek advice on agroforestry were facilitated visits to this site at Hastinapur. ICAR-CAFRI took further initiatives to popularize B. vulgaris and distributed plantlets to the farmers in village Binwara, Dabar, Shyamshi, Kundar, Shivrampur, Rautiana in Niwari tehsil of district Tikamgarh and Parasai, Chhatpur villages of Babina block in Jhansi (U.P).
Sudden demise of the farmer Sh. Ram Singh in 2011, led his son Sh. Harpal Singh to take over the family’s livelihood options. He also continued to maintain the bamboo plantation. Besides routine cropping (sesame / blackgram / chickpea, wheat and lentil) he earned about `15,000.00 during 2012; ` 20,000.00 during 2013 and ` 35,000.00 during 2014 by selling the bamboo culms obtained through selective thinning. Forest Deptt., Datia (M.P.) showed keen interest in multiplication and large scale plantation of B. vulgaris in the district, as such the department purchased all available culms of B. vulgaris from Hastinapur for ` 1,15,000/- in March, 2015. The Deptt. is planning to multiply them through culm cuttings. New culms arising from left over rhizomes will continue to produce new culms. During this seven years journey there had been two years (2009 and 2014) of drought and extreme weather aberration incidents that affected crop production in this region. Year 2013 being of excessive rainfall year, also adversely affected kharif and rabi crops production in the region. Further rains during March 2015 spoiled the rabi crops (2014 – 2015) in the region. Economic losses due to crop failures as a result of bad weather were well compensated by the boundary bamboo plantation. Thus the green gold has transformed life of Late Sh. Ram Singh’s family and likely to bring cheer to the farmers of the region.