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Inventory of Peasant Innovations for Sustainable Development an annotated bibliography

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A) Botanical Pest Control/Semi-Arid REgion

  1. Mixing of neem cake during sowing of paddy in the field prevents termite and also prevents the growth of a weed called (Cyperusrotundus). (Farmer: Ram Chrit Pandey of Tarapara village).

    1. Mechanical Pest Control/Semi-Arid Region

  1. To prevent wheat and potato crop from hoarfrost it is advisable to fill the field with water in the evening and make smoke around it. (Farmer: Ram Chrit Pandey of Tarapara village).

  1. It is beneficial to burn dry leaves mixed with neem leaves after harvesting the sugarcane crop, to destroy a insect called ‘suri.’ (same farmer as above).

  1. The effect of pod borer is less, when the Bengal gram field is irrigated after flowering (source same).

  1. To protect the plants from ‘gandhi’ (insect) the farmer tie a lot of ‘Van Tulsi’ (wild basil) on a stick and rotate it in the field at eh time of flowering of crop. The smell of the wild basil, drives away the insect (Farmer: Tej Bhadhur Singh of Mungeshpur).

  1. To kill ‘gandhi’ (insect), the farmer burnt a cycle tyre and hung it in the centre of the field. (Source same as above).

C) Agronomical Means of Pest Control/Semi-Arid

  1. The farmer is using a local wheat variety ‘Now-5,’ which was stated not affected by any type of diseases. (Farmer: Tej Bhadur Singh of Mungeshpur village).

  2. To protect paddy from termite attack, the farmer fills the filed with water. (Farmer: Rampal of Shivnathpur village).

Alam Nurul Md. And Colleagues

Converting Farmer’s Beliefs into Hypothesis for Wider Scrutiny by the Scientists and Farmers.

OFRD, BARI, Tangail, Bangladesh

1986, pp.1-12
A) Agronomical Means of Pest Control/Humid Region (p.7)

  1. Late sowing of wheat after a good Aman harvest increases rat attack and hence the same is to be avoided if possible.

B) Mechanical Pest Control/Humid Region

  1. Whistling sound produced by leaves of banana plants is more effective than any other method to control rat in the wheat field. With wind, the leaves strike each other and produce a sound which frightens rats.

Shukla Chhelbhai J

A Scientific understanding behind Traditional Customs in Agriculture

(Saurashtra Gandhiji Gramoddhar Trust, Gahadha, Bhavnagar); 1989, pp.1-10
Fumigation for Pest Control/Semi-Arid Region (p.2)

  1. If in the early morning waste/garbage is burnt in the field. Due to it’s smoke insects and butterfly cannot lay their eggs. They get destroyed.

Mane, P.M.

Study of Traditional Agricultural Practices (Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India), Ahmedabad), 1989, pp.1-5
Mechanical Pest Control/Semi-arid Region (p.1)

  1. The mango hoppers is suck plant juice from succullant foliage and flowers. They secrete a sticky juice which covers the leaf surface, further leading to infection of powdery mildew disease. Some farmers are burning dry mango leaves in the orchards. This creates smoke with the hope and belief of keeping t he insects away from t he orchards and reducing their attack.

Agronomical Means of Pest Control/Semi-Arid Region

  1. Some farmers of Mangrol village (District: Junagadh) are following the practice of cultivating sorghum and/or pearl millet crops on the border of groundnut crop. Cultivation of such crop is believed to protect the groundnut crop from the salty air in the coastal area.

  1. When plantation of mango grafts is done, few seeds of pigeonpea are sown around the pit. The reason is that pigeonpea grows faster because of the watering given to the mango grafts and within ¾ months it creates a shadow on the mango grafts which protects its growing point from the heat of sun. This also enhances its growth.

Gupta & Saha

Local Innovations and Farming Practices in Rainfed Eastern Uttar Pradesh (District Faizabad). An Annoted list of Farmer’s Knowledge (Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad), 1989, pp.1-23.
A) Cultural method of Pest Control/Semi-Arid Region (p.1)

  1. On Tuesday and Sunday farmers take pigs to run through rice field to control kharia (leaves turn yellow due to deficiency of zinc in the soil). Earlier it was more popular among the farmers. There is lot of controversy over t his method among the farmers. Some of them believe that when the plants come in contact with the pig which is a dirty animal the disease is cured. They use pigs on Sunday and Tuesday because of some religious beliefs (village Isoulibhari).

  1. The eastern wind increases the intensity of aphid attack on the mustard plant. This wind favours the attack of disease and pest (Farmer: Ramawadh Yadav village: Saraya Bagha).

  1. Once a few insects attacked a field, their infestation could not be restricted to a particular place. Plants touch one another (due to weight of the panicles, wind, lodging) and the insects move from one plant to other at one corner to another. Farmer mentioned two paddy varieties more susceptible to ‘Sarua’ disease (stem rot). These are Jarhan and Ushawa (Farmer: Hanuman Yadav, Village: Isoulibhari).

B) Mechanical Pest Control/Semi-Arid Region

  1. The branches of ‘sadabahar’ are planted in the middle and four corners of the field to eradicate ‘khaira.’

  1. To control termite, irrigating the sugarcane crop soon after the attack of termite controls the termite. (Farmer: Bhavani Prasad; Village: Sarayu Bagha).

  1. Besides mixing rat poison with ‘gur’ and ‘ata.’ The sunhemp seeds mixed with poison are also used to prepare the rat bait (Farmer: Bhavani Prasad; Village: Sarayu Bagha).

  1. The application of fresh cow dung should be avoided to keep the potato tubers in the field free from the attack of a kind of insect known as ‘mata.’ Whenever fresh cow dung has been applied ‘mata’ attacks the tuber (Village: Sarayu Bagha; Farmer: Bhavani Prasad).

  1. A kind of borer known as ‘mangra’ which attacks the sweet potato tuber at maturity could be prevented if the field is kept wet. The irrigation lessens the attack (Farmer: Ramawadh Yadav; Village: Sarayu Bagha).

  1. The attack of ‘gandhi’ on rice starts from the date of onset of flowering and continues for eight days. The attack is more during the period 7.00-10.00 a.m. and 4.00-6.00 p.m. Cloudy weather also favours the attack. The tyres of the cycle also are sometimes burnt in the evenings. The insects which take shelter in the plants leave the plot due to the offensive smell (Farmer: Kedernath; Village: Isoulibhari).

  1. If wheat seeds are treated with water mixed with the leaves of roosh/arrosha, termite do not attack the wheat crops (Farmer: Ramdeo Yadav; Village; Sarayu Bagha).

C) Agronomical Means of Pest Control/Sub-Humid Region

  1. A kind of plant locally known as ‘Ramsar’ which looks like sugarcane plant is grown in the early stages of growth to control khaira. (Village: Son ka Purwa)

  1. The growing of arhar/wheat/sweet potato for some years, is advocated in case chana (gram) suffers from wilt in a plot. After few years again chana (gram) could be grown (Village: Saraya Bagha, Farmer: Ramawadh Yadav).

  1. To control the gaddaila (pod borer) in mustard the farmer broadcast powdered usar soil (alkaline waste). The application of this early in the morning when the leaves are wet would help to control the disease (Village: Saraya Bagha; Farmer: Ramsinghi)

  1. The farmer stored the dried powder like alkaline soil locally termed as reha or usar. He plans to use this soil to see its effect on gadhaila insect (army worm) on rice. He has grown Saket-4 variety of rice also this year. Last year the crop was attached/damaged by gadhaila insect. He did not know any control measure for it. This year in case of attack he would broadcast the usar soil on the plants only to see whether it has any impact on the gadhaila insects (Village: Isoulibhari; Farmer: Ramavtar).

  1. Farmers in India grow safflower (kusum), close to homestead to keep the birds at bay.

D) Innovative Use of Common Chemicals/Sub-Humid Region

  1. Application of edible salt to the chana (Bengal Gram) sometimes proves effective when the plants showed signs of wilting (Farmer: Raj Kumar; Village: Udhui).

  1. If the cut potato tubers are treated with a mixture of gamaxin and ash before sowing, the attack of mata (borer) is controlled (Village: Saraya Bagha; Farmer: Ramawadh Yadav).

  1. To control gadhila (pod borer or army worm) in chana (gram), matar (pea) and mustard he uses ash (Farmer: Ramawadh Yadav; Village: Saraya Bagha).

  1. To control pod borers in mustard some other farmers broadcast powdered alkaline soil (also called as usar or velia) on the leaves in when they are still wet due to dew in the morning (Farmer: Ramsinghi; Village: Saraya Bagha).

  1. To control the termite attack in rice field in which the earlier crop was wheat, the application of urea @ 5 kg. per bigha on the onset of monsoon is suggested. The field should also be irrigated after the harvest of the wheat crop (Farmer: Ramsinghi; Village: Saraya Bagha).

  1. The application of ash to the potato crop increases the size of potato, but if ash is applied to the arhar plot the plants might dry up (Farmer: Kedarnath; Village: Isoulibhari).

E) Biological Pest Control/Sub-Humid Region

  1. To prevent the entry of the rats leaves of ‘sarpat’ are spread all around the field. When rats try to move through the leaves their bodies are scratched/cut (Farmer: Jagprasad; Village: Son ka Purwa).

F) Farmers’ Perception of Insect Behaviour/Attack/Sub-Humid Region
Only recently farmers found army worm attacking the rice crop. The insect cuts the base of the panicle of the mature crop and within 2-3 days can damage the whole field. An old farmer, viz., Hanuman Yadav of Isoulibhari village noticed following features of the insect attack:

  1. Once a few insects get entry they even could not be restricted to a particular place. Since, at that stage one plant touches other (due to weight of the panicles, wind, lodging) the insect move from one plant to other, one corner to another. Two paddy varieties more susceptible to ‘Sarua’ disease (stem rot), are Jarhan and Ushawa.

  1. Last year he grew Saket-4 and Usahwa (both are susceptible to the attack of army worm) varieties of paddy. But to his surprise he found that his plots were free of any kind of disease. The possible factor is not known to him, the mature stage when gadhiala attacks the crop, the field was wet. He did not think that as the reason of a lack of pest attack. He was still trying to figure out the reason.

  1. Gadhaila attack is more on the new longer duration paddy varieties. The deshi (local) varieties are harvested earlier (before the attack).

  1. The insects cannot climb easily on the deshi varieties being tall and thick stemmed. When there is wind the insects fall down. In case of dwarf high yielding variety the insects reach the top easily.

  1. Among the different new varieties of paddy the attack is found more on Saket-4 and Jaya.

  1. Although farmers have used different chemicals to control it nothing has produced satisfactory result.

  1. When malathion powder is applied on the plants, it may not come in contract with the insects. The insects cut the panicle at the base. So, when the dust is applied it remains on the top. The insect is saved. It need not reach the top of the plant.

  1. It is believed that if the plot is flooded before the onset of the attack the crop could be saved because the insect may not reach the plant. But last year he observed a plot in another village (Sidhouna) where such a field was under the severe attack of gadhaila.

  1. It often happens that plants around the border of a good plot are in touch with that of the border plants of another plot affected by gadhaila. Even though water could be applied in the good plot to prevent the attack from the gadhaila of adjacent plot, the insects can enter the irrigated plot.

Gupta and Saha, 1989: 7, op cit
Grain Storage Pest/Sub-Humid Region

  1. Farmers do not like to store grains mixed with gamaxin. Instead they simply dry the grains well in the sun ad preserve. Some put onions to preserve wheat grains (Village: Son ka Purwa and other Eastern Uttar Pradesh Villages).

  1. Urd is treated with mustard oil for preservation. One kg. of oil is required for a quintal of urd. This keeps the grain free from weevil attack (Village: Son k Purwa and many other parts of the country, particularly Gujarat).

  1. Grains like matar (pea), chana (gram) are preserved with the leaves of roosha/aroosha (Farmer: Bhavani Prasad; Village: Saraya Bagha).

  1. Wheat seed could be prevented from the weevil attack if some amount of ‘hing’ (asafoetida) is kept in it (Farmer: Babulal; Village: Udhui).

  1. To preserve wheat grains in the room, dried ‘mahua’ flowers are tied in a cloth. Five to ten such bundles are kept in the wheat grains. The smell of flowers keeps the weevil away. Cloth is used so that the grains may not come in direct contact with the flowers. This practice is found very effective (Farmer: Balkrishan; Village: Udhui).

  1. Out of the two type of onions-white and red, which red onion is used to store/preserve the wheat grains. The red onions have pungent smell. This keeps the grain free from the attack of weevil. To preserve one sack (100 kg.) of wheat 2-3 kgs. of onion is needed. They keep the half amount at the bottom of the sack and the remaining onions in the middle of the sack.

The red onions are used mainly for two reasons, viz., smell and its ability to create a cool environment. The weevil attack is found in warm/hot condition and rainy season (Farmer: Hanuman Yadav; Village: Isoulibhari).

  1. Farmers of Surat were seen to mix castor oil with the pulses to prevent attack of pests in stored grains (Farmer: Hanuman Yadav; Village: Isoulibhari).

  1. Mixing of salt with stored rice grains prevents the attack of red insects (Farmer: Hanuman Yadav; Village: Isoulibhari).

Gupta and Saha, 1989, 23, op cit
Domestic Use/Sub-Humid Region

  1. Roosh plant is not attacked by termite and therefore it is used for thatching of the roof (Village: Saraya Bagha, Farmer; Ramdeo Yadav).

Shankaran Vasumathi

A Case Study of Bhil grasia in Western India.

(Presented at 7th World Congress of Rural Sociology, Italy in July 1988)

LTK – 806, 1988; pp.1-8.
Ways of Locating of Ground Water/Semi-Arid Region (pp.1-2)

  1. In absence of perennial rivers, the tribals have to depend upon ground water from wells to irrigate their crops. The tribals have developed an innate sense to locate ground water which is called ‘WATER DIVINING.’ This is based upon the location of natural flora and fauna.

  1. Location of white ant hill indicated presence of underground moisture. Ants require moist solid to build their nests. Large trees with deep roots require both soil and water. Occurrence of trees like bamboo or neem also indicates that there is water below.


Chap. 53, Vol. II, pp.706-742

(Quoted in Girija Prasanna Majumdar’s Essay Plant and Plant life in Indian Treatise and Traditions, University of Calcutta, 1927).
Ground Water/Region Unspecified (pp.135-136).

  1. If one finds a ‘Vetasa’ plant (Calamus rotung) in a waterless tract, one is sure to find water by digging the ground at a distance of 3 cubits to the west of it half a Purvsha below the earth (One purusha is equal to 120 angulas that is about 7 ft.).

  1. If you find a ‘Jambu’ (Blackberry) tree dig a hole 2 purusha deep, 3 cubits to the north of it and you will find water running in a Vein eastward. If there are ant hills close by to the east of the said Jambu tree you will surely find sweet water in a pit dug 2 purushas deep, 3 cubit to the south of it.

  1. If a ‘Udumbara’ (Ficus glomerata) tree is seen you are sure to find sweet water flowing in a vein, in a pit dug 2 purushas deep, 3 cubits to the west of it.

  1. If an ant-hill is found to the north of an ‘Arjuna’ (Terminalia arjuna) tree, water will be found 3 ½ purushas under the earth, at a distance of 3 cubits to the west of that tree.

  1. If Nirgundi (Vitex trifolia) tree is found with an ant-hill, one will find tasteful water in a pit 2 purushas deep, 3 cubits towards the south.

  1. If a Vadari (Zizyphus jujube) and Palasa tree (Butea frondosa) are found together you will find good water, 3 purushas under the earth, 3 cubits towards the west of the former.

  1. When a ‘Vilva’ (Aegle marmelos) and an ‘Udumbara’ (Ficus glomerata) tree are found growing together, you will get water 3 ½ purushas under the surface of the earth at a distance of 3 cubits from the trees.

  1. Where to the north-east of a ‘Koridara’ (Bauhinia acuminate) tree is found a white ant-hill with Darva (grass) over it, water will be found between them 5 ½ purushas under the ground.

  1. If a frog is detected living beneath a tree, one will surely get water 4 ½ purushas under the ground towards the north of that tree.

  1. If an ant-hill inhabited by a serpent is found to the north of a ‘Madhuka’ (Bassia latifolia) tree, you will get water at a distance of 5 cubits from the tree, 7 ½ purushas under the ground.

  1. If you find a Palmyra or a coconut tree with ant-hills, you will have a vein of good water flowing at a distance of 6 cubits to the west of either of the above trees 4 purushas under the ground.

  1. There is water near by the trees that are sappy, have long branches, or very dwarfish, or very spreading. And there will be no water near the trees that are sickly and have unhealthy leaves.

  1. Water will be found 4 ½ purushas below the ground at a distance of three cubits to the north of the following trees surrounded by ant-hills: Tilaka, Amrataka, Varunaka, Bhallataka, Vilva, Tinduka, Ankola, Pindara, Sirisa, Arjuna, Parushaka, Vanjula and Antibala.

  1. If a thorny tree (e.g., ‘khadira’) is found in the midst of thornless ones (like ‘palasa’), or a thornless tree is found in the midst of thorny ones, water will be found 3 purushas under the ground at a distance of 3 cubits to the west of such a tree.

  1. If a kantakarika (Solanum sp.) plant is found without thorns and with white flowers water will surely be found under it at a depth of 3 ½ purushas.

  1. The region where trees, shrubs and creepers are ‘graceful’ possessing leaves that are untorn (entire), there are veins of water 3 purushas below the ground. Or where there are sthalapadma, Gokshura, Usira, Kula with Gundra, Kosa, Kusa, Nalik, or Nala (all grasses); or where t her are kharjjura, Jambu, Arjuna, Vetasa, or trees, shrubs or herbs with milky juice, or Chhatra, Hastikarna, Nagakesara, Padma, Nipa, Naktamala with Singhubara or Vibhitaka, Madayantika, water will be found 3 purushas below, even if it be on the mountain upon another mountain, i.e., on a very high ground.

  1. Where there are Saka, Aswakarna, Arjuna, Vilvasarjja, Sriparni, arishta, Dhaba, Simsapa with leaves torn (i.e. unhealthy), and where the trees, shrubs and creepers look ungraceful, it could be inferred that no water will be found in that locality.

(There are 125 such practices mentioned in the text ‘Upavana-Vinoda’ written by the same author in the sanskrit treatise on Arbori-Horticulture, 1935, the Indian Research Institute, Calcutta, Chap. II, pp.19-27).

Moran Emilio F

Human Adaptability in Arid Lands

Env-Eco-M-11, 1977; pp.172-207
Water Storage/Arid Region (p.184)
In the Dobe area of Kalahari the farmers rely on 3 types of standing water sources; large collecting hardpans in dry river channels; smaller depression (MOLAPO PANS) between dunes; and holes in large trees. The hardpan sources are by far the most important since they hold water year round. The Molapos offer a varying water source depending on the catchment size and duration of rain. The water from the trees is important because of the richness of the food-rich dune crests.
Reijntijes Coen

Water Harvesting: A Review of Different Techniques

ILEIA, August 1986; 5, pp.7-8
Water Harvesting/Arid Region (pp.7-8)
Different water harvesting system can be classified in the following ways:
I) System with an external catchment area for collecting of runoff water or flood water from small watersheds:

  1. Agricultural use, without any special arrangement of natural depressions where run off or flood water is concentrated temporarily and water infiltration is relatively high (Traditional examples in West and East Africa)

  1. Simple techniques for water spreading and infiltration by means of low, permeable bunds (ridges) which follow the contour lines. These bunds are made of strong bundled streks, crop residues or fences of lying plants (Traditional in Burkina Faso. (Terracing for infiltration and circulating runoff from untreated upper reaches in conventional in India. Similarly, blocking usually dry streams by bund and farming in the accumulated silt is a regular feature in low rainfall regions in South Rajasthan and Central Maharashtra in India – Pers. Commn. Y. Mandavkar).

  1. Water pockets – holes for seeding runoff collection and management of organic matter (“ZAI” in Burkina Faso) and, “COVAS” in (Cape Verde both traditional).

  1. Water collection: Graded furrows or bunds are used for diverting run off from agricultural fields, villages and waste land to tanks situated at a lower level. This water is used for supplementary irrigation in dry periods or full irrigation (Traditional practice in India and relatively recent in West Africa).

  1. Runoff farming, runoff water from a treated (example by a chemical spray or the clearing of gravel stones to improve the formation of a surface crust to increase the runoff) or untreated catchment area is diverted to lower agricultural fields (Traditional practice in Israel, Tunisia and Muskat; New practice in Kenya).

  1. Runoff water and silt from small watershed is captured by dams in seasonal stream beds or is diverted to agricultural fields. In front of these dams the silt builds terraces which are used for agriculture. The infiltrated water makes crop protection possible (Traditional practice in Israel and Tunisia).

II) System for storage and agricultural use of flood water:

  1. Flood water farming: These traditional systems make use of the run off concentrated by natural water sheds in seasonal or permanent river systems. The water is diverted from its natural channel by dams or barrage and led to the agricultural fields where the water is kept impounded by earthen dam around the fields. The infiltration water is used for agriculture (Traditional example is the Nile Delta before the Aswan Dam; North India ‘Ahars and Khadins’; South Pakistan ‘Sailabas or Korkabas’).

III) System with a “within-field” catchment area called “insite” water harvesting or “Micro Catchments”.

  1. Negarim runoff water from a small plot is captured at bone side where it infiltrates the soil and directly contributes to the moisture in the rooted profile of an individual productive tree or shrub (traditional in example: Morocco new example: Israel or other countries).

  1. Contour ridges or bunds: the same system as III (i) but instead of small plot, stripes are used. Crops can be seeded in front of the bund were water infiltration is concentrated (Relatively new in India and Africa).

  1. Contour beds: the same system as III (ii) but the beds are “W” shaped, the alternating wide and narrow ridge, the wide ridges serves as a catchment zone and furrows as drainage or irrigation channel (found recently in Brazil).

Emilio Moran, 1977; 188, op cit
Water Harvesting/Arid Region
The Bedouins still use a primitive well which is characterised by shallowness. Subsequent refinement is also built consisting of a chain of wells across the face of a slope. In this system a number of wells are dug into aquifer and from there the water is led gradually away. Underground tunnels are dug until the lower surface is reached. Similar ‘KANATS’ are also found in China, Afghanistan and Atacama desert of South America.
Gworgwor, N.A.

Traditional Water Harvesting Techniques as a Bases for Ecological Improvements of Agricultural Techniques in North Nigeria (paper presented in IFOAM, Seventh International Scientific Conference Burkina Faso, January 2-5, 1989). pp. 1-12.
Water Harvesting/Semi-Arid Region (p.7)

  1. In the “GICCI” system which is practiced in Northern Guinea Savanna and part of Sudan Savanna. Here the main constraint to agricultural production has been the late and erratic rainfalls. Thus in order to utilise the scarce erratic early rainfall, to avoid t he high peak of labour demand and to have an early grain harvest the farmers have evolved “GICCI” system of farming.

There are three operations involved, viz., making heaps in furrow, a subsequent weeding and splitting of the ridges for the main crop. Where this system was not followed, all ridges were splitted at the same time, and this was the only operation. This is a system of sowing one crop in a widely spaced row usually the early planted cereals, apparently at right angles to the other crop which might be a cereal. When the rains are poor or cash crop in this case groundnut intercropped latter when the rains has established after splitting the ridges. The early sown crop are sown 2-3 meters apart on a clump of wet soil taken from an old ridge after whatever little early rain and placed in the adjacent furrow. This increases the depth of moist soil and by cross-tying ridges in this manner small catchment is created for subsequent run-off. This system has evolved mainly in a practice of mixed cropping which has proved to be profitable and sustaining system than sole cropping.

  1. Along the basin of Lake Chad, where heavy black soils (vertisols) exist, it provides a great opportunity for the farmer to have an extended period of crop production during the dry season. And the process of doing this is by the growing of the “MOSKWA” sorghum during the cold harmattan but dry season of the year.

  1. The moskwa sorghum is a drought and cold tolerant sorghum grown in Northern part of Western Africa during the dry cold harmattan period.

Maseko P., Scoones, I and Wilson, K.

Farmer based Research and extension

ILEIA, December, 1988, 4(4)-18-19
Water Harvesting/Semi-Arid Region (pp.18-19)
The main advantage with farming in the wetlands in Zvishane in Zimbabwe are that they stablise production through maintaining more constant water availability. This enables successful farming during dry years, and in the dry season. Also these are usually clay-rich and the soils tend to have higher organic matter than the sandy toplands. However, there are also problems. When rains actually fall heavily they become very wet making land preparation difficult. Water logging can damage crops and soil fertility, and occasionally surface flows result in soil erosion. A 30 m x 15 m pond was dug in the upper margin of the wetland, where water naturally seeps out of the ground on encountering layers of clay. This pond captures water from heavy rains, preventing its loss from the system, ad storing it for future use. Concurrently the damaging effects of surplus water in the fields are prevented. Together with a series of wells, water is then circulated within the wetland to achieve supplementary irrigation, both during dry spells in the rainy season, and also during the dry season. A third component of managing hydrology was the careful identification of areas where water would flow during exceptional thunderstorms, and turning them over to Kikuyu grass.
With this water supply, Mr. Phiri Maseko then developed an intensive integrated system. Banana groves were established below the dam in areas often too wet for cultivation. Within these bees are kept. Fish are farmed in the pond, and reeds suitable for basket-making are grown for sale. Several hundred fruit trees, especially citrus and mango, are planted within and around the fields where they make use of the water supply, and provide a valuable cash income as well as a food crop. A very diverse cropping system is possible, with all the major cereals, including rice, grown inter-cropped with legumes. Vegetables are also grown, especially during the dry season. The cattle holding is maintained by the use of abundant crop residues, banana leaves and grass cutting.
Kolarkar, A.S.

An Innovative Traditional Old Method of Agriculture in Jaisalmer-Thar Desert Region. (Paper presented at the workshop on Traditional Technologies in Indian Agriculture at Nistads New Delhi), March, 1989, pp.1-6.
Water Harvesting/Arid Region (p.1)
In the deep desert of “Thar” in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, water harvesting had been put to practice and developed as a technology as early as in the 15th century by ‘PALIWALS’ – a Brahmin community of Jaisalmer at specific geographic sites to ensure at least one crop a year and this traditional technology is today known as ‘Khadin.’
Gupta and Saha, 1989: 15, op cit
Water Management/Semi-Arid Region
While it is a usual practice to irrigate urd crop (black gram) first 15-25 days after sowing, farmer Ajoy Kumar (21 years old) did something very exceptional. He applied water when the crop was two months old and almost dried up in the field. He did not think that it would survive. But to his surprise he observed that after receiving water it regained life. The green leaves appeared and the pod formation started. Farmers could not normally think to keep the urd plant deprived of water for two months. He explained that when the whole plant has much of the vegetative growth, the pod setting was poor. Checking the vegetative growth (pod formation) later on fosters the reproductive growth (fruit formation). He also mentioned the name of another farmer – Gokul Prasad who also grew urd crop and adopted the same practice different from others and they reaped the best harvest in the village (Farmer: Ajoy Kumar, Village: Isoulibhari).

(Quoted in Harbans Mukhia’s Paper Agricultural Technology in North India: A Survey of Sources presented at the workshop on Traditional Technologies in Agriculture held at Nistads, New Delhi), March, 1989, pp.1-14.
Irrigation/Region Unspecified (p.12)
The most significant development in the sphere of irrigation took place in the early medieval centuries in the form of waterwheels which still irrigate a good part of the Indian fields.
The development occurred in three stages: the ‘ARGHATTA’ which was a pair of reins with buckets tied to ropes across the reins moved by human power applied to spokes. They drew water from the surface and used this for irrigation. Adjacent fields drew water from the couple of ponds in the village.
The second stage saw the attachment of a bucket chain attached to the reins; water could now be drawn from wells which greatly enhanced the irrigation potential. The device, the ghatyantra, was however still moved by human energy. Finally, the Persian wheel, with pindrum gear and a bucket chain drawing water from a fairly deep well, was operated by animal power. It was a very capital intensive device and therefore, its spread was rather limited. As late as the 17th century only 1.7% per cent of the wells had Persian wheels installed in them. But, of course a shift to the Persian wheel would have meant a shift to high value crops, because this helped in regulating the amount of water to be supported.
Singh Chetan

Well irrigation methods in Medieval Punjab: The Persian wheel reconsidered

Indian Economic and Social History Review, 1985 Vikas Publications, Ghaziabad, 22 (1-4)-72-87.

Irrigation/Semi-Arid Region (p.73).
Among the various water raising devices that were known to the medieval peasant, it is perhaps the Persian wheel that presents the most fascinating example. Two principal contention lay at the base of what were believed to have been the consequence of the use of the Persian wheel in Punjab and Sindh. The first contention is that the Persian wheel was more efficient in deep well irrigation and could not be effectively utilised in wells of moderate depth. Second was the argument that this method of irrigation had become diffused and generalised in the Indus region by the beginning of the 16th century. Cultivation in Punjab was assumed to have benefited a great deal by Persian wheel.
Albert Howard, 1949; 173, op cit
Irrigation/Humid Region
The Hunzas, people living in one of the high mountain valleys of the Gilgit Agency, have an ancient system of irrigated terraces which has been maintained for thousand years in a high state of fertility. The total area of the irrigated terraces is small. Ample soil aeration results form their construction. The irrigation water brings annual additions of fine silt produced by the neighbouring glacier. Great care is taken to return to the soil all human, animal and vegetable wastes after being first decomposed.
Traditional Irrigation System of a Tribal Area – A case study of Ex-state of Sonepur (Paper presented in the Workshop on Traditional Technology in March 1989; pp.1-15)
Irrigation/Semi-Arid Region (p.4)
The striking feature of farming in the Sonepur state was that land was well cultivated, t he fields were carefully terraced and irrigated from tanks and embankments. The valleys and open plains lent itself to the construction of reservoirs and irrigation embankment. The valleys and open plans lent itself to the construction of reservoirs and irrigation embankment. The gradient of the land surface, river system, legal provisions and village administration practices of the area helped to develop an indigenous irrigation technology and traditional mode of operations. It also helped in maintenance of irrigation works.
Sengupta Nirmal

The indigenous Irrigation Organisation in South Bihar

The Indian Economic and Social History Review, 1980, Vikas Publications, Ghaziabad, Vol.17, pp.157-186
Irrigation/Semi-Arid Region (pp.159-160)
In Patna, Gaya, South Monghyr and South Bhagalpur, the major modes of irrigation were regular tanks and two other system peculiar to the area namely ‘Ahars’ and ‘Pyne’ (called “private canals”).
An Ahar resembles a rectangular catchment basin with embankments only on three sides. The fourth side the highest side is left open for drainage water to enter the catchment basin with embankment following the gradient. Unlike, tanks, the bed of ahars are dug out.
Pynes on the other hand, is a system devised for utilizing the water which flows through the numerous hilly rivers flowing south to north intersecting the whole country. Sometimes pynes are impounded into ahars at the end ensuring storage of any superfluous water. Alternatively pynes are also led to ahars for distribution of water. Both Pynes and Ahars generally carry water during July-September and guarantee against untimely or scanty rainfall.
Willicocks William

Ancient System of Irrigation in Bengal and its Application to Modern Problems

Reprint, 1984 (first print 1930), Publishing Corporation, Delhi, Chap.1, pp.1-28.
Irrigation/Sub-Humid Region (pp.5-6)
The genius of Bhagirath showed itself in the way he decided to mingle in the fields of standing rice, the fertilising and health-giving waters of the rivers in flood with the poor water of the monsoon rainfall. This was possible because the river floods and the monsoon rainfall came together. The distinguishing feature of the irrigation was that:

    1. The canals were broad and shallow carrying the crest-waters of the river floods, rich in fine clay and free from coarse sand.

    1. The canals were long and continuous and fairly parallel to each other, and at the right distance from each other for purposes of irrigation.

    1. Irrigation was one by cuts in the banks of the

Anil Gupta, 1985; op cit
Water Management/Arid Region
On the issue of 12 inch bund instead of B inch as used by the farmers of Hissar village. The reasons for doing this was because, during the first rains when the percolation of water into soils is less. Subsequently rains will not result into any run-off even with 8 inch bunt. Once the soil capillaries have been opened, the run-off will be less and the absorption will be more.
Msumali, G.P.

Soil Management Options for the Disposal of Crop Residue under low External Input Agriculture

ILEIA, October 87, 3 (3)-1
Soil Conservation/Region Unspecified (p.14)
Peasants have often preferred to burn crop residues, for they believe that burning is an efficient method of field clearing in preparation for the next crop. It also helps to destroy pest, pathogen and noxious seeds. It helps in improving the physical properties of the soil tool. This widely practiced in different parts of the country –ed.)
Reij Chris

Water and Soil Conservation by Farmers

ILEIA, August 1986, 3(5)-4-6
Water/Soil Conservation/Arid Region (p.6)
In Mossi plateau, Burkina Faso, the traditional techniques of water and soil conservation used by farmers are:

  1. Mulching with crop residues or dry grasses. This method of management of microclimate, soil humidity and soil fertility is still used by some farmers. (This is practiced by farmers of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, India. Pers. Commn.-G.S. Saha. In Bangladesh, several types of mulches were observed such as water hyacinth, pitra leaves, grasses, straw, etc. ed).

  1. Acacia albida trees are assumed to improve the micro climate. Also soil fertility is improved by the mulch of their leaves.

  1. Stone bunds are used to harvest run off water and to improve infiltration. This technique fell into disuse in the beginning of the century but has been reintroduced by the farmers since the end of the seventies. (For further details refer study of ‘Low-cost soil and water conservation measures for smallholders in the Sudano-Sahelian zone of Burkina Faso by H. Eger in cooperation with S. Groten, T. Kost, K.H. Schmitt and G. Winckler. This is a part of a working paper series (14) on Rural Development edited by J. Kotschi, Feb. 1989).

  1. ‘ZAI’ pockets for water harvesting, seeding and management of organic matter. The technique is still used by some farmers.

  1. Planting of shrubs (Euphorbia sop) and perennial grasses Androppogon) along the border decreases run off considerably. This technique is still used by the farmers.

Millington Andrew

Soil Conservation and Shifting Cultivator

ILEIA, July 1987, 1(2)-18-19
Soil Conservation/Semi-Arid Region (pp.18-19)
In Sierra Leone, the farmers use a mixture of different techniques for preventing soil erosion. The most common is stick and stone bunds, which acts as dams to trap the soil being washed downslope. They are similar to contour bunds and are called stick bunds when constructed with wood and stone bunds when constructed with stone and rocks.
Bayer-waters Ann

Building on Traditional Resource Use by Cattle Keepers in Central Nigeria

ILEIA, October 88, 4(3)-8-9
Soil Conservation/Arid Region (p.9)
In West Africa, farmers have a long tradition of protecting the seedlings of economic trees such as locust bean trees. They sued to plant and replant them in order to have them in their fields near their homes, because these trees played a vital role in stabilizing the soils in the farming areas.
Paul Richards, 1985, 60, op cit
Soil Conservation / Region Unspecified

  1. The small-scale farmers in West Africa employ a wide range of techniques for soil conservation. One of the virtues of shifting cultivation in the forest zone is that larger trees are left in situ the stumps and roots are not removed although the lighter vegetation is brushed and burnt, the stumps and roots are not removed. This helps to bind the soil. Intercropping also facilitates protection against erosion by lengthening the period of the crops on the farm.

  1. In Savanna districts farmers make use of heaping and ridging to create suitable soil environment for crops such as yam and sorghum.

  1. In parts of the Guinea Savanna zone, where laterite hard pan is often extensive farmers make heaps and ridges to ensure adequate depth of soil for plant growth without having to attempt to break this lateritic crust.

  1. In very high rainfall districts of West Africa where soils are predominately sandy or sandy loams there is marked tendency towards “minimum tillage.” This does not disturb the process of cultivation.

Stigter Kees

Traditional Manipulation of Micro Climate Factors: Knowledge to be Used

ILEIA, October 1987, 3(3)-6
Soil Conservation / Arid Region (p.6)
In Tanzania, soil dug from pits is spread over neighbouring soil, after the latter has been covered with grass cut on the spot. In t his way a network of ridges and holes comes into being on sloping soils like fertile erosion preventing mulch.
Albert Howard, 1949: 148, op cit
Soil Conservation/Alkaline/Arid Region
In the neighbourhood of Pusa, in North Bihar, old roads and the sites of bamboo clumps and of certain trees such as tamarind (Tamarindusindica) and pipul (Ficus religiosa) always give rise to alkali patches when they are brought into cultivation.
Gunaratna’s Commentary Sloka 49, p.157, Saddarsarna Samuchchaya, Bibliotheca, New Series 1151, 1907 (Quoted in Girija Prasanna Majumdar’s in his Essay Plants and Plants life as in Indian Treatises and Traditions), University of Calcutta, 1927, pp.255
Soil Conservation/Region Unspecified (p.16)
For successful cultivation of cotton, one has to plough the land sixteen times, for radish 8 times, for paddy 4 times and for betel nil.
The soundness of this direction becomes manifest at once when one takes into consideration the root system. Radish is a herb, paddy is a surface feeder and betel is a climber that produces numerous adventitious aerial roots.
Paul Richards, 1986, 12, op cit
Soil Conservation/Semi-Arid Region
Land beyond the immediate reach of fresh water flooding in the rainy season was used relatively little by local farmers because the soils were saline. The aim of the polder scheme was to solve the salinity problem by excluding brackish tidal water form these back swamps during the dry season and to keep the land under drainage (Garvie 1957). Successful rice polders are found in both Burma and Guyana (Grist 1975) and the Sierra Leone scheme may have owed its inspiration to both these examples.
Blomer Ernst

Vetiver Hedgerows, A Farmers’ Technology Recognized

June 1989, Organic Matters, 2, pp.3-6
Soil Conservation/Semi-Arid Region (pp.4-5)

  1. A farmer in Gen. Naka (Dominican Republic) noted that pilinut-trees on the riverbeds prevented soil erosion.

  1. Some farmers on the steep slopes in Mancion (Dominican Republic) planted grasses (V.zizanioides) after the first harvest to control soil erosion and only secondarily to produce fodder for their cows.

  1. Farmers in Silang experienced that bamboo planted on top of region vulnerable to landslide prevented further erosion.

  1. Farmers use cut trees and debris everywhere to check run-off.

  1. A farmer in Argao effectively planted local vetiver grass to control gully erosion.

  1. Farmers in Argao use palm leaves to support newly planted contour-ridges to establish. (In parts of Kerala and Karnataka in India, the farmers have used vetiver grass for more than a century for protecting bunds from erosion (S. Subramanya and K.R. Shastri, DLDB, Bangalore, pers. commn. 1989).

Fujisaka Sam

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