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Inventory of Peasant Innovations for Sustainable Development an annotated bibliography

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Harbans Mukhia, 1989; 10, op cit

Sowing/Region Unspecified
A seventeenth century Persian language text prudently suggest sowing in three stages; some seeds are sown early on, some a little later and some at a still later stage so that successful germination of at least one lot could be fairly assured.
The Traditional Agricultural System of Kakching in South East Manipur with Special Emphasis on its Social Management.

(Paper presented at the Workshop on traditional Technologies in Indian Agriculture at NISTADS, New Delhi), March 1989, pp.1-6
Sowing/Sub-Humid Region (pp.3-5)
They had different patterns of sowing seed crops.


Kangna huna means sowing in dry soil or field (Kang = dry; hunba = throw). It was generally done by big land holders who had shortage of labour. This type of sowing is done before the rainy season starts, say, during the month of Shajiphu (April). The field which had been tilled three times once more the seed corn are sown and finally draw a harrow to cover it. It is not necessary to soak the seed corn in water.


The above process is the same in case of UMI PUNGKHUL also. The only difference is that the required seed corn is to be soaked in water the previous night.


Under this system sowing is done on the eve of the rainy season. There is no sufficient water processing for pamphel. In this type of soaking the seed corn in water takes two days to complete. It is not popular now-a-days. However, in high level field, they seem to be practiced even today but to a very low extent.

The above practices are abandoned because of uncertain productivity. Besides, more than 80% farmers are now small holders and they intend to apply intensive method in agriculture. Thirdly, availability of labour is not a problem.


This system is applied after the start of the rainy season, and the fields are flooded with water. Before sowing seed, water in the field must be drained to some extent. After addition of two or more tillings and also drawing ukai or harrow the seeds are sown. The corn seeds will be soaked in water for three days. After sowing tumbu ukai will again treat the ground just for mixing of the corn seeds with the soil. Production under this system of sowing is equally good with transplantation. But the only advantage of the latter is that there is possibility of weeds growing.

  1. This is the most popular and important system of cultivation that is followed in the region.

Preparation of the seed beds. The seed beds which are already water logged are to be tilled as many times as a farmer can. The ridges of both the seed beds and of the entire will get repaired and weeds on them cut by long ago (2 ft. handle & 2.5 ft. of blade). The ideal water treatment is 2 to 3 ft. above ground. On the day of sowing, the farmer draws harrow in the morning. All the ithongs or water gates are closed, so that the cultured soil cannot be swept away through Ithongs. He comes back in the afternoon and sows the seed corn. The corn are soaked in water for the last three days. The seed is put in a basket with a strip of cloth hanging from one’s shoulder. For a pari (250 acres) of land 65 kg. of seed corn are required.

After three days of the swing water from the seed beds will be drained out just to lighten the young plants and 6 days after sowing, water will be given. After that then gradual supply of water is required just to help them grow.
After 20 days, gradual draining out of water from the seed beds is a must. During 25 to 35 days when the plants have grown to a height of 1.5 – 2 ft. they are uprooted. This is known as Louhol Phoiba.

Before the work of transplantation begins the entire fields including the seed beds are tilled and harrowed.

After the completion of the Phou Lingba (transplantation) all Ithongs are closed by mud, sticks, branched of tree with leaves. The closing of Ithongs serves two purposes (i) gives obstruction to the running water out of the beds, (ii) The birds sitting on the sticks kill the pests for food.
The plants are irrigated again after 3 days of the transplantation. It is for (a) killing the weeds and (b) to keep up the growth of the plants. After 20 days or so water will be drained out of the beds. Then starts Makhong Shomba. It means the rooting out of the new weeds, replacing the dying plants, etc. and drawing harrow over the plants. Harrowing in this stage is highly needed as it helps to bear good fruit. Then all the Ithongs are again closed.
The traditional crops ripe during the last week of November or the first December. When the crops gets ripe all the Ithongs are opened and water drained out of the field. After two or three day the plants are combed or pressed down by a long bamboo. It is called ″Cheikhok Namba.″ This will make it easy while cutting the plants by Thangol (Sickle).
The plants are cut and kept in bundles in the field. The community harvesting system played an important role even during the early fifties. The required workers were mostly neighbours. Harvesting is completed in the same day.
One of the field’s beds is selected for threshing the crops. At first straw is spread over it and above it Faklen (threshing mat made of Yendhou, a kind of reed plants). Other implements used are Fan, Cheirong (Wooden thresher), threshing wooden spoon (Phou-in-thok), Yot (spade), Shangbai (Basket), etc.
Before the introduction of bullock carts the transportation of crop was a difficult task. In many cases the whole crop could not be brought home the same day. The buffalo sledge and waterways were the only means of transportation. Among he waterways, the river Shakmai and the Kakching Ithei main canal and its three major branches were the most important. For the interior fields foot transportation was also done.
The old crops cultivated by their forefathers were:-

    1. (Moirangphou (b) Kakchang Phou (c) Sagol Yangba (d) Iroiya, (e) Chahao Champak (e) Chahao Mainhombi (f) Chahao Poirenton (g) Tumai (h) Changlei (i) Taotkabi (j) Huibap, etc.

All the varieties except (g) and (j) were harvested during the last week of November to the middle of December every year. Crop (a), (b) and (i) are still popular throughout Manipur. Taothabi is cultivated in water sluggish areas. Crops (e), (f), (g) and (h) are not productive varieties. They are of high quality and good taste. They are aristocrat crops. They are cultivated hardly in a single bed of a big field. As the old crops are not productive, most of them are not cultivated and have been substituted by a new variety of crops.

Majumdar and Bannerji, 1960: 14-15, op cit
Sowing/Region Unspecified
Sowing of seeds in Ambuvaci, when the earth is supposed to be unclean, is said to be dangerous. After sowing is over, cultivator must level the field with the madika (ladder), otherwise the growth of the plants becomes uneven.
Anil K Gupta, 1985: 3-5, op cit
Sowing/Arid Region
These were some of the practices observed in sowing by the farmers of Hissar village in Haryana during 1984-85:

  1. The sowing time of gram was linked by the farmers with the appearance of a bird called ‘kunj.’ This is a bird resembling a carrion. It has white wings and is normally found n groups. It appears only at a particular time which the farmers feel coincides with the time of sowing of gram. What does this bird eats? Its ecology, the association of temperature with the movements of bird and its full identification needs to be investigated. Does this bird come when some particular pest appear? Or does it’s appearance indicate such a combination of temperature, humidity and wind velocity which is conductive to sowing of gram remains to be seen.

  1. Whether a farmer decides the time of sowing of a crop in relation to rainfall specific to a particular field needs to be probed. The big farmers were found to decide right at the time of kharif sowing as to which field is to be reserved for rabi sowing and which for the kharif after fallow. The small farmer, however, tried to take two crops in all their fields if the rainfall permits. They will even go to the extent of sowing of kharif crop and harvest it green if the subsequent rains fail and the possibility of harvesting grain is low. They will not like to risk rabi crop in such a situation.

  1. Guar is sown only when due to late onset of monsoon the farmer is not able to sow the bajra crop and rainfall is sufficient enough for he subsequent rabi crops. Normally rabi sowing in a field where guar was sown in kharif gets delayed. In such fields mustard is the next crop. Late sowing cannot be taken as the correct …………….

Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh, 1986; 2, op cit
Sowing/Humid Region

  1. Sowing of jute (capsularis) after full moon/chaitra considered optimal.

Md. Nurul Alam, OFRD, Bangladesh, 1986: 1-2, op cit
Sowing/Humid Region

  1. Higher seed rate (upto 100 kg/h) minimises the risk of germination and damage by bird attack.

  1. Greater extent of mixture of mustard with wheat is found when sown after jute.

  1. Harvesting of wheat in the morning time reduce the shattering.

  1. Laddering of wheat field at 20-25 days ensures higher tillering.

Gupta, A and Saha, G.S., 1989: 19, op cit
Sowing/Semi-Arid Region
On two different plots Pant-4 Paddy was cultivated by farmers by two different methods – transplanting and direct sowing. The seedlings of transplanted field were of a total of 45 days and those of direct sown were of 19 days. The transplanted seedlings looked well while the condition of direct sown seedlings was not satisfactory. Laddering on the plot was done. The plant density was regulated by laddering. After which puddling was done. Every operation would be done after flooding the field Laddering will uproot the small weed plants whose roots are very weak which will then be decomposed into the soil. The stem would be broken. This will give rise to more number of tillers and hence growth would be faster. (Farmer: Jagprasad Yadav, Village; Isoulibhari, Dr. Maurya, NDVA also made these observations).
Rhoades Robert E

Traditional Potato Production and Farmers’ Selection of Varieties in Eastern Nepal

(Potatoes in Food Systems Research Series, Report NO.2, 1985, Published by Training Communications Department, International Potato Centre, Peru)
Cropping/Humid Region (P.12)

  1. In many Andean communities land is divided into seven areas or sectors. Planting is concentrated in one sector for 1 or 2 years during which herds and flocks are exiled to other sectors which serve as pastures. Farmers pursue a strategy of complex rotation of crops within sectors under cultivation. The potato always leads off the rotation cycle after fallow because it is most sensitive to soil pathogen followed by a soil enriching Andean legume or gram. Rarely by another Andean tuber. Sheep or livestock are moved daily on the prepared fallow field to fertilize the fields for the next crop to be planted.

  1. Another aspect of indigenous mountain agriculture is the large number of unusually small and dispersed fields (Peru & Nepal). The scattered fields reduce the risk of total crop failure. Due to the practice of planting a wide arrange of crops and varieties in different localities and altitudes, a poor yield in one place does not imply the same results elsewhere here. (It is for this reason, Gupta, 1984 argued in a commonwealth workshop on Land use Planning, IIMA-A land consolidation as a non-feasible, practice in semi-arid regions. The inheritance system in the east evolved during the transition from pastoral to cultivation system sub dividing each plot among all heirs made sense. Population pressure on space made it dysfunctional in irrigated regions. The ecological homogeneity also helped in swapping of land – Ed).

Paul Richards, 1986; 12. op cit
Cropping/Semi-Arid Region

  1. The popularity of swamp development, of Sierra Leone in farmers’ eyes, depended as much on dry-season swamp crops such as sweet potatoes, cassava, tobacco and vegetables, as on increased output of rice during the rainy season. Local innovations in dry-season cultivation of swamps deserved support and wider dissemination for ecological as well as economic reasons, example, dry season crops were often grown on heaps, and the leveling of these heaps before the next rice crop buried rice stubble (thus enhancing fertility) and checked weed growth.

Paul Richards, 1986; 32-33, ibid

  1. Farmers in Mogbuama combine three types of rice cultivation. They plant early-ripening rices on river terraces and in river flood plains, medium-duration rices on rain-fed upland farms, and long-duration rices in swamps and water courses (making use of natural flooding). The long-duration rices are often ‘floating’ or flood-tolerant types. Whenever possible farmers will look for sites where all three types of cultivation can be combined in a single farm. This can be best done by following the soil catena. A catenary farm makes good use of available labour, the scarcest factor of production in small-scale rice farming in Sierra Leone.

Paul Richards, 1986; 59, op cit

  1. In Mogbuama rice farming priority attention is paid to the upland kpaa wa on which dry rice predominates, but two types of wet rice are also cultivated; first, early rice planted on runoff, bulu and bati plots (all associated with the kpaa wa) and secondly, yaka rices broadcast in inland valley swamps and waterways. Early rices are part of the household farming effort, whereas yaka rice farms are individual projects. Taking ‘both early and yaka rices together about one third of all rice planted in Mogbuama could be classified as ‘wet rice.’

  1. There are three stages to rice planting. First the seed has to be broadcast. This is a skilled operation, and sometimes a farmer will ask a friend or relative known to have a good ‘touch’ to do this.

  1. The basic principle underlying the range of rice cultivation practices in Mogbuama is that of combining the use of different soil types (often in catenary sequences) in order to spread risks. By planting a mixture of early rices on moisture-retentive soils, medium-duration rices on upland farms, and long-duration flood-tolerant (Yaka) rices in inland valley swamps and water courses, most households are able to spread their labour requirements in a manageable way and to lengthen the harvest period. (The selection of local lives for staggered sowing and for photo period sensitivity, we argue, was essentially for t his reason-better use of household labour – Ed).

Paul Richards, 1985; 58, op cit
Cropping/Humid Region
In upland rice farms in Sierra Leone farmers commonly use especially well burnt patches (e.g. bonfire sites) as nurseries for new and interesting planting material or will use soil at the foot of abandoned termitaria of Macrotermes bellicosus to plant maize and yams.
Eva Wollenberg, 1985; 164, op cit
Cropping/Sub-Humid Region (p.164)
Farmers of lake Balinsasayao in the southern portion of the island Negros (Philippines) observe several cropping patterns.

  1. Corn was planted with sweet potato, while Abaca was often combined with Karnbal. Chayuote is the most grown monocrop because it tends to invade and cover the ground.

  1. Coffee, cocoa, lanzones, citrus and other fruit trees tend to be planted together in a diverse mixture usually near home.

  1. Bananas or cassava were planted along the borders because of the shaded created, although large stands of cassava were often grown as a single crop.

Bunderson, Woldtatios, Bayers
Improved Integration of Legume into Agro-Pactoral System

(Farming System Research and Extension: Management and Methodology), Edited by Flora and Tomecek Paper 11, 1986, pp.486-504.
Cropping/Semi-Arid Region (p.488)
The farmers of Nuba mountains in Sudan plant sesame even in areas which are heavily infested by Striga or where soil fertility has been depleted by excessive sorghum cultivation. According to local farmers sesame promotes yields of subsequent sorghum crops following fallow and also permit continued cultivation on land no longer able to support cereal production. (We presume sesame also helps as weed depressent – a hypotheses remains to be tested –Ed).
Anil Gupta, 1988a; 83D-E, op cit. Gupta, Patel, Shah, 1985 op cit
Cropping/Sowing/Region Unspecified
Following farmers’ practices were recalled by the scientists as quite valid or in need for further testing.

  1. Growing of sarson in criss cross sowing in gram crop.

  1. 2:1 ratio of sowing jowar and red gram.

  1. Plantation of putea sp. As agroforestry system (on fields bunds of kharif blocks). The species seem to have least competitive effect on annual crop.

  1. Farmers obtain a good yield of Sorghum by sowing with early monsoon in the second week of May.

  1. Sowing with pre-monsoon rains certain crops like maize in Hoshiarpur, and paddy in low lands at Ranchi. This practice results in efficient utilization of mineralized nitrogen, pest control and timely seeding of second crop. (Turton, 1987 found this practice among Mursi tribe in Africa. The farmers made a trade off between planting early fertilizing nitrogen release on first rain-vis-à-vis the assured but delayed and wee affected crop sown at the time of second rain –Ed).

  1. Paired row of growing of cotton is another practice observed in certain regions.

  1. Removing water from fields of Paddy in Andhra Pradesh after 2/3 weeks of plantation.

  1. Mixed cropping, i.e., mixing seeds of several crops (5-7) and then sowing in the same rows.

  1. The farmer obtain good crop by intercropping (castor and Red gram) with two rows of castor and one row of redgram.

  1. Some farmers do not till the fields during fallow winter season in the belief that soil will catch cold, if ploughed during the winters.

Nordblom Thomas

Livestock Crop Interaction: The Case of Green Stage: Barley Grazing

ICARDA Discussion Paper No.9

FSR-N7-1983, pp.37
Cropping/Semi-Arid Region
In Syria, sheep are frequently allowed to graze fields of immature barley during the winter. Then barley is left to recover and is later harvested for grain.
Anne F. Floquet, 15-18, op cit
Cropping/Semi-Arid Region
In Benin, Grain legume as component in the crop rotation like cassava. Also legumes like groundnut were sown as transition to fallow.
Emilio Moran, 1977; 280-282, op cit
Cropping/Arid Region
Corridor system developed by the Belgians is the random shift cultivation of field into a rotational system. This system ensure each field with an adequate fallow.
By clearing corridors, forest regeneration is facilitated, erosion is checked and forest germ plasm is protected. One variation of this system is each annual field ‘corridor’ runs east to west and is 10 mts. Wide.
Richards and Johnny, 1980; 348, op cit
Cropping/Sub-Humid Region
A farmer in a village chosen to represent cocoa/coffee zone of eastern Sierra Leone due to a temporary leveling out of the valley profile appeared uncertain whether cocoa or coffee would thrive best. Farmers are aware of the soil moisture textural and fertility characteristics separating ‘cocoa’ and ‘coffee’ soils. In the case of a this particular plantation the farmer had planted in effect a 6 x 4 trial of interspersed cocoa and coffee seedlings. Having noted the response he was able to mark off the critical soil boundary he was curious about and planted the rest of his farm accordingly.
Albert Howard, 1949; 174, op cit
Cropping/Humid Region
The staircase cultivation of ‘Hunza’ tribes receives annual dressings of fresh rock powder, produced by the grinding effect of the glacier ice on the rocks and carried to the fields in the irrigation water.
Taittiriya Samhita

(quoted in ‘Agriculture in Ancient India’ Edited by S.P. Raychaudhuri, 1964, Chap. vi, pp.81-83)
Sequence of Cropping/Region Unspecified (p.81).
The above text distinctly mentions that in the course of a year, two crops were harvested from the same field. It also mentions different seasons for ripening of different crops and the proper times for harvesting them.
The Arthashastra catalogues the crops of different seasons. Paddy, kodruva, sesamum, panic, daraka and varaka are sown in the first season (purvavapah), mudga, masa and saivya are sown in the second seasons (madhyavapah), kusumbha, lentil, kuluttha, barley, wheat, kalays, linseed and mustard are sown in the last season.
There are also other ancient texts like Yajur Veda, Rig Veda, Jatakas, etc. which mention the practice of crop sequencing.


(quoted in ‘Agriculture in Ancient India’ Ed. S.P. Raychaudhuri, 1964, Chap.v, pp.59-80)
Cultivation of Crops/Region Unspecified (pp.61-65)
The raised land bordering on a village habitation or forest region and at some place by the river-side is the second type of land called Adhaka. It requires scant irrigation and is suited to the bumper growth of gram. There is no need of providing canals or other means of irrigation for it. It usually becomes fit for cultivation by a small effusion of water. Therefore at the time of sowing it should be watered slightly. In this land watering at the proper time gives life to (i.e., promotes the germination of) the seeds. The Adhaka land has thus been described as possessing the aforesaid qualities.
There are hundred such practices which are enumerated in the above Chapter. Various dimensions of cultivation of crops listed are a) use of other crops besides rice, wheat, millets and how other crops evolved by breeding or by selection to suit a particular combination of soil and climate, b) different types of crops which were cultivated in different parts of the country, c) collection and preservation of seeds, d) ploughing land for sowing, e) cultivation of various foodgrains and vegetables.
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