Dharampur Development Projects.
Soil Bunding (Terrace Farming)
Terrace Farming :
We have seen Tea gardens at Ooty and Darjeeling. Tea is grown on the slopes of Hills. However, the slope is terraced so as to create small flat surfaces out of the slope. The plantations have large budgets. They use tractors & other heavy earth moving machinery. At Dharampur forests, the tribals live on mountains and have no machinery at all. Some do not have even shovels.
Only business in Dharampur forest is agriculture. To grow anything on a slope is difficult. Heavy down pour of rain can wash out everything. And they have no money to utilise earth moving machinery for creating terraces. Hence the indigenous system developed in Dharampur is “Soil Bunding”.
In this system, the family – husband & wife both - and even children would create a wall of stones. This wall runs across the slopes. They manually lift stones weighing from 10 Kg to 40 Kg and build the wall by simply placing the stones – one upon another. The wall is barely two feet high.
When it rains, the rushing waters bring silt with them. The silt is trapped in the wall. The water goes out. The silt goes on accumulating. Over a period of two to three years, a flat surface is formed behind the stone wall. This becomes a good farming place for them. Please see the photographs below.
The tribals are poor. During January to May they go out to different places in search of wages. They may earn around Rs. 60 per day. They may get jobs for about fifteen days in a month.
Vedchhi Pradesh Seva Samiti (VPSS) & Sarvodaya Parivar Trust (SPT) ask the tribals to make Soil Bunding on their own farms. And they are paid half the wages – Rs. 30 per day. This way, 50% contribution is made by the tribals themselves. Even these wages are paid in terms of food grains & not in cash. It is a project of “Food for Work”.
When the terraces are created, the tribals’ income goes up as they can take a better crop. Instead of ‘Nachni’, they can grow rice. These terraces also help in minimising soil erosion & in water percolation. Thus this scheme helps the environment as well as the tribals.
|This photograph shows a few stone walls made on the slope.
As can be seen, on such slopes, it is very difficult to grow crops.
This photograph is taken from the upper side of the hill.
|This is another photograph from a distance, from the lower side of the hill.|
|This is a third photograph.
The walls have been made in the summer of 2007.
After the photographs have been taken, rains started in June.
|This is a photograph of how flat terraces have been created over a period of three years by the stone walls (soil bunding).|
Every year the NGOs can do work for about Rs. 30,00,000. SPT has already budgeted Rs. 16,00,000 for similar projects. VPSS is now trying to collect the funds for the balance.
During monsoon, no work can be done. They will start working around December 2007. It will go on till around April, 2008. Then they again start working for their regular farming. It is a project of about four months.
1st August, 2007