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Inventory of Peasant Innovations for Sustainable Development an annotated bibliography

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Department of Agricultural Extension, and OFRD, BARI, Bangladesh, 1986; 2, Gupta, 1987, 1989, op cit
Crop Yield/Humid Region
Farmer beliefs not tested by the scientists were recalled by extension workers and the on-farm researchers of BARI in a district level workshop organized in Tangail (Details form Nurul Alam Z Abedin of BARI or Gupta, IIM-A).

  1. Opium insertion in bottle guard stem increases the number of fruits. (Subhash, P.C.)

  1. Non-bearing papaya bear fruits when injected with Cholera vaccines. (Feroz, P.C.)

  1. If you cut a male plant of papaya the newer shoots bear fruits.

  1. If the jute grown after wheat a modular substance in jute roots leads to mortality of jute seedlings. (Nural Alam)

Anil Gupta, 1980; 13-14, op cit
Crop Yield/Arid Region
Ram Niwas and other farmers of Mahendragardh district, Haryana, India speculate on the crop production prospects as:
i) The yield of mustard (local) and Raya Prakash is prospected by watching a particular plant. If that plant had flowers on the top, the Raya Prakash variety was also expected to have heavy flush of pods, and no attack of pests and diseases. And in case the indicator plant had only flowers at bottom or in lower branches or middle, the Raya Prakash variety was expected to have much less production while mustard corresponding parts.
ii) In case a week plant called as ‘Gokhuru’ has heavy flowering and fruiting, the gram crop would be good. In case ‘Gokhuru’ had only vegetative growth, the crop too was expected to behave likewise with much less yield.
iii) In case ‘neem’ tree has heavy flush of Nimolis (the fruits) the bajra crop was expected to be good.
iv) If the growth of ‘Katoli weed,’ which is thorny leaved, 3-4 ft high plant, heavy, the bajra crop was expected to be good.
There are many other practices observed in this study on ‘Communication with Farmers.’ The concept of communication and power (e.g., two-way communication with two-way power akin to mass line concept of Mao) was developed in this study done at IIPA, New Delhi in 1979-80. The knowledge of poor dry farmers, it was argued could be a source of their power while dialing with the scientists and the extension workers. This was much before the concept of ‘Farmer First’ (Chambers, Pacey, Tlrup, 1989) became fashionable or popular. Dharampal (1971) Singh and Verma (1969) and Vishwanath (1938) had argued similarly earlier.
A Case Study of Md. Samed Ali Howlader of Doharpara village, prepared by Md. Yusuf Ali, Scientific Officer, OFRD, Barisal, Bangladesh. 1986, pp.1-15. Study was a part of case studies guided by Gupta during his work with BARI, 1985-86.
Selection of Crop Variety/Humid Region (p.3)
Selection of crop depends on land type, flooding depth, irrigation facilities and also on some social factors. As aus rice cultivation has become quite uncertain (because of drought, rice hispa), the farmer has abandoned aus rice for last 4 years and now he emphasized on early planting of T. Aman (In aus season the land is used as seed bed). The farmer’s own land is high in nature, therefore, he directly goes to T. Aman not in Boro like the Borga land. He cultivates Bohuri rice in one of his plot as the land is slightly higher than other, Mota rice in two of his plots, as it is comparatively lower types of land and he cultivators Agnee rice in one plot as it is early maturing (to save the crops from duck and chicks). Bohuri gives good fried rice. Mota comparatively is high yielder among local varieties in a slightly lower elevation. He cultivates different varieties also to avoid risks.
A Case study of Md. Shah Alam Sikder of Maghor Village, prepared by Md. Alamgir Hossain, Scientific Officer, OFRD, Barisal, Bangladesh. 1986, pp.1-12 Part of Case Studies at BARI, Gupta, 1985-1986, op cit.
Selection of Crop and Varieties by farmers/Humid Region (p.2)
In Aus season the crop production is very risky due to the rice hispa and rush of early tidal water. Last year, about 90% of the crop was damaged by rice hispa. In 1983, about 90% of the crop was damaged by early tidal water. But even the farmer takes chance to broadcast mixed Aus (Mishak) variety and aman (Joyna variety if the prior rainfall is available). It reduces the labour cost of transplanting and land preparation of broad cased aman fields.
If he fails to cultivate B.Aus + B.Aman, local varieties by the mid of April, he goes for transplanting either a single T. Aus (K. boro) or a T. Aus (K.boro) mixed with T. Aman (Pakur) variety by mid June. At this time tidal water is available for transplanting. The choice of variety was (i) due to the consideration of lower type of land and (ii) water level remaining 2’ -2 ½ at the harvest time of aus crop.
The criteria for selecting of Aus varieties like Satia and Mishak is its special characteristics. It can rise with the rise of water. The straw after harvest, quickly rot and allow aman to come up quickly.

Chap 194 pp 305 and 306 (Bengali Translation)

(Quoted in Girija Prasanna Majumdar’s Essay ‘Plant and Plant life as in Indian Treatise and Traditions’) University of Calcutta, 1927.
Planting/Region Unspecified (p.15)
The mango is benefited by cold fish washings. One can see this practice still in many mango groves of Bengal. (Farmers of eastern Uttar Pradesh apply raw fish to the root zones of the fruit trees. Pers. Commn. –G.S.Saha)

Sloka 86 pp.293, 294 edited by Pyarimohan Sengupta 1895 quoted in Girija Prasanna Majumdar’s Essay Plant and Plant Life as an Indian Treatise and Traditions,’ University of Calcutta, 1927, pp.255
Planting/Region Unspecified (pp.45-46)
Chakradata in the above text under section of treatment of Rheumatism includes a long recipe for the preparation of an oil. When a dry barren tree is sprinkled with this oil (at the root) it is believed to become full of flowers and fruit, graceful and strong.
Wolfram Zehrer, 1986; 5, op cit
Planting/Semi-Arid Region
The time of planting is important. In Togo farmers do not plant maize after the end of April. Experience has told them that maize planted after this date suffers badly from steam borers.
Girija Prasanna Majumdar, 1927; 41, op cit
Planting/Region Unspecified
The most suitable ground to plant crop in is soft soil that has been sown with Sesamum indium and dug up and trodden with sesame flower.
It is best to plant trees at intervals of 20 cubits, an interval of 16 cubits is next and the worst is an interval of 12 cubits. Closely planted trees become fruitless.
The reason behind this minimum distance mentioned in Sloka 13 of the same chapter Brihat Samihita, is that the roots thereby becoming mingled together. These interfere with each other’s functions. They become ill and fruits will not be produced.
Department of Agriculture Extension, OFRD, BARI, Gupta, Alam and other, Bangladesh, 1986; 2, op cit.
Planting/Humid Region

  1. If ‘Shazna’ graft (plant cutting) is planted after the first shower in chaitra. It starts bearing fruits within one year. (Awlad, Pers, Comm.)

  1. When ‘Shazna’ graft is planted upside down, the bearing of fruits is round the year. (Awlad).

Varahamihir/Brihat Samhita quoted in Girija Prasanna Majumdar 1927, pp.255.
Plant treatment/Region Unspecified (pp.48-49)
Varahamihir says as a sort of general prophylactic, mud kneaded with ghee and vindanga should be applied to the roots, after which milk diluted with water should be poured.
As a cure for bareness Varahamihir prescribes, a hot decoction should be made of ‘KULATTHA’ (Dolichos biflorus), ‘Masha’ (Phaseolus mungo var roxburghii), ‘Mudga’ (Ph.radiatus), ‘Tila’ (Sesamum indicum) and ‘Yava’ (Barley) which when cooled should be poured round the roots.
Girija Prasanna Majumdar, 1927; 214-215, op cit
Sowing and Planting/Region Unspecified
The treatment under this head in ‘Khana Maxims’ is both exhaustive and elaborate. These saying of ‘Khanna’ are famous all over India just like the sayings of ‘Bhat.’

  1. By sowing paddy in the month of Ashar one gets a full harvest, in Sravan only leaves and fruits, in Bhadra only husks and in Aswin nothing.

  1. Sow paddy to your heart’s content throughout the whole of Sravan and the first 12 days of Bhadra.

  1. During the last four days of Bhadra and the first four days of Aswin sow Kalai (Phaseolus var. radiatus) as much as you can (i.e., best time).

  1. One should sow peas after the first 19 days of Aswin and within the first 19 days of Kartik.

  1. Khana directs, the good cultivator, to sow mustard towards the end of Autumn. (The sowing of mustard, is very thermo sensitive and the saving time is quite narrowed).

  1. The cultivator who does not plant either in the month of Bhadra or Aswin and idles away his time and then too late in the month of Kartik and Agrahayan plants grown-up things in the field, is fated to see them perish from an attack of mildew and his barns empty.

  1. Sowing turmeric in Baisakh and Jaishtha, is bidding adieu to your chess-playing, weed out your soil in Ashar, and Sravan so as to make it perfectly fit in Bhadra, otherwise no harvest will follow.

  1. This is the direction of Varaha’s son Mihir; expecting Chaitra and Baisakh plant brinjals very cheerily throughout the other ten months. Apply ashes, if the plants are attacked by worms as the only remedy, pour water in case the ground is dry, and you will get fruits all the year.

  1. Plant betel in Sravan and the produce will be too much to be chewed up even by Ravana. Patols will doubly grow if planted in Falgoon.

  1. Plant plantains in holes one cubit deep each at intervals of 8 cubits, and do not cut off the leaves and it will yield you both bread and clothes.


(Quoted in Girija Prasanna Majumdar’s book ‘Upavana-Vinoda’—A Sanskrit Treaties on Arbori-Horticulture, Indian Positive Science Series-1, 1935, The Indian Research Institute, Calcutta, pp.1-52)
Plant Treatment/Region Unspecified (p.30)
To cure the plants first scrape off or otherwise remove parts affected with a knife, then apply mud kneaded with ghee and vidanga to these parts after which milk diluted with water should be poured at the roots.
Brihat Samhita

Chap.54, Vol II p.743; Girija Prasanna Majumdar 1927; pp.255
Propagation/Region Unspecified (p.40)

  1. Kanthab (Jack fruit tree), Ashoka Kadali (plantain), Jambu, Lakoocha, Dadimo, Drakshya, Palibata, Vijapura (Matulanga), Atimuktaka, these are the plants propagated by means of cutting and then smeared with cow dung.

  1. Better than this method is the method of propagation by grafting. This can be done in two ways – the cutting of one plant is either inserted into the roots of another plant or on the stem of another plant.

  1. Graft should be smeared with cow dung. For transplanting, the plants should be smeared from root to the top with ghee (clarified butter) sesame oil, honey of the khudra variety of the bee of the ‘USHIRA’ (Andropogon laniger OR Andropogon citrarum), the ‘Bidanga’ (Embelicaribes) milk and cow dung.

Harbans Mukhia, 1989; 13, op cit
Grafting/Region Unspecified
The seventeenth century text ‘DAR FANN-i-FALAHAT’ also describes the method of grafting. The notion of the male and female parts of plants had either been developed in India or had been imbibed here, for the same text refers to ‘NAR’ (male) and ‘MAADH’ (female) plants.
Zebun Nahar, OFRD, Bangladesh, 1986; 5, op cit
Grafting/Humid Region
A good branch from the top of a ‘lichee’ tree is selected for grafting. During the month of Jaistha after harvesting of lichee, they clean the above branch to a length of about 8-10 fingers. On that clean portion, a mixture of fresh cow dung and soil in the proportion of 50:50 is plastered by wrapping it by a ‘chat’ (jute mat).
That portion is watered three times a day, if there is no rain. During the month of sravan, the portion below the graft is cut and planted in an earthen pot. When new shoots appear on the plant they are either planted or sold.
Gupta and Saha, 1989; 9-10, op cit
Orchard Management and Experimentation/Semi-Arid Region

  1. A small plot of land was selected by a farmer in 1950 where she planted trees. Before planting the trees she grew sugarcane on that plot. The bunds around the plot were raised up to two feet and made 1.5 feet broad. She grew sarpat on the bunds, which grew taller than sugarcane within three years. Width of the sarpat strip was one lattha (unit of measurement, one latta equals to 6.7″). After growing sugarcane for three years she planted trees in the whole plot.

Sarpat was grown around the border to hide the young seedling plants from animal as well as to make a barrier against their access. But in case they get an entry anyhow, it would be difficult to save the seedlings. So, she used to spray a solution, prepared by mixing cow dung manure, soil and water on the leaves and the whole plant. If any animals enters in the day or night it will not feed on the leaves. It will small the plant and then leave it. The smell of cow dung and mud is not liked by the animas. (Village: Isoulibhari, Farmer: Sonapati).

  1. Farmer Chowdhry Yadav of Isoulibhari village planted a jackfruit plant about thirty years back. After that it has borne fruits 4-5 times and that too, few in number (7-8 in each season). The plant produces flowers but they gradually dry up and fall on the ground. The taste of the fruit and size were found to be good by the farmer. The problem was in fruiting. The place where he planted the seedlings had stone pebbles (kankar) at 4″6″ depth but the farmer was not sure about whether it was due to the effect of stone or any other deficiency. On his part he tried the following:

    1. He once applied 2-3 kgs. of salt to the root zone of the plant at a depth of one foot.

    1. He also applied 10-12 kgs. of fishes at a depth of 1.5″ and covered with soil. Although he applied ‘saheri’ fish, he said that any kind of fish could be used.

    1. He pruned the tree many times so that new branches and leaves came out and the problem be removed. But even after taking all these measures there was not result.

    1. One old farmer of Saraya Bagha suggested that the problem of fruiting may be overcome if the soil around the root zone is replaced by clay (kali mithi) soil of low land area. He said that if that is done the plant root would get essential substances from the clay soil. Farmer Chowdhry when given that idea accepted it and said that he would try it as the last hope/measure. His middle aged son reacted saying that the tree has grown old and it is not possible to make it give fruits. The farmer did not agree with him.

  1. The trees like jackfruit and lemon cannot tolerate dirt around their root-zones. If people pass stool close to these plants they develop some abnormalities (stop bearing fruit, dry up, etc.) If the pieces of cloth used by the women during the menstruation period are thrown upon the lemon trees then the trees will dry up. (Village: Isoulibhari, Farmer: Balkrishan Maurya).

  1. The application of fishes to prevent the shattering/drying up of flowers in the plant proves to be effective and the results are temporary. Application of fishes before the onset of flowering will prevent the dropping of immature fruits only for the season. (Village: Isoulibhari, Farmer: Balkrishan Maurya).

  1. The manner in which fishes are to be applied is described. A ditch of 3-4″ around the trunk has to be made. Fishes are to be kept all around. Farm yard manure is applied along with water. After which it is covered by soil. (Village: Isoulibhari, Farmer: Balkrishan Maurya).

Kotschi, J

Agroforestry for Soil Fertility Maintenance in the Communal Lands of Zimbabwe’s Semi-Arid Areas

(Eco-farming Practices for Tropical Small holdings, Research and Development in Technical Cooperation edited by Johannes Kotschi, Working Paper No.14, The paper was also presented at the workshop on Cropping in the Semi-Arid Areas of Zimbabwe, Harare, August 24-28, 1987), February 1989, Chap. II, pp.11-29
Agroforestry System/Semi-Arid Region (pp.22-23).
A traditional agroforestry system in the West African Sahel is based on the leguminous tree Acacia albida. The deep roots of this tree enable it to tap lower sources of water and nutrients inaccessible to field crops. It drops its leaves during the wet season and, therefore, does not compete with crops for light. It produces leaves during the dry season, a Phenomenon known as ″reverse foliation.″ The leaf litter contributes nitrogen other nutrients and much needed organic matter to the fields. This soil improvement leads to considerable increase in crop yields.
A study by Charreau and Vidal (1965) measured millet yields at different distances from single trees and found enormous differences. Near the trunk, millet yield increases of 150% were measured in comparison with millet grown beyond the tree canopy. Even more marked are the differences in protein yield; an increase of 245% under the trees. Based on these measurements, it was calculated that crop yields could be increased by at least 50% with a tree density of 30 adult Acacia trees per hectre (Advisory Committee on the Sahel, 1984).
Harbans mukhia, 1989; 9, op cit

Grierson, Bihar Peasant Life (2nd Edition, Patna, 1926, p.172)
Ploughing/Region Unspecified
We however, know from an early 20th century observation that the field was ploughed five times before it could receive the seed. In case of sugarcane the field was sometimes continuously ploughed for eight months. Consequently this practice was known as ‘ASTHMAS.’
Shih Sheng-Han, 1982, 38-39, op cit
Ploughing/Region Unspecified
Chinese knowledge of first century B.C. and Sixth Century A.D.

  1. Ploughing when dry, the soil comes up in clods which will crumble under rain. Wet soil when ploughed up, will form stubborn clods which remain hard for years to come.

  1. Primary ploughing should be deep, later shallow deep primary ploughing mixes the soil better, but deep ploughing later may still bring up raw sub-soil.

Waler in Dharampal, 1971, 1983, 249, op cit
Ploughing/Coastal Region
In some cases a rice field is kept under water until the second ploughing. It is then almost an equal mixture of mud and water. The cattle in this state are of as much use as the plough. The water first rots the weeds and grass, and afterwards nourishes the plant. Water is the most necessary agent of vegetation. The seed corn is sometimes, but not always, soaked for 20 or 30 hours in water. It is then laid in a heap for several days; in this state it shoots and grows. The ground is finally prepared, either for sowing or planting, by dragging a plank over its surface by cattle. This levels and smoothens the ground; and mingles every thing together. The later is allowed to run out before the seed is sown. It is then sown broadcast, or planted.
G.P. Majumdar, 1927; 213, op cit
Ploughing/Region Unspecified
Elaborate attention is given to the methods of ploughing, in Khana Maxims, thus:

  1. One should plough the soil sixteen times (i.e., many times) for radishes; half the number of times for cotton, and half of that for paddy and none at all for betel.

  1. One should cultivate soil for radishes making it as soft as cotton, i.e., to the extremity of softness and for sugarcane plough it to dust.

  1. Khana directs, to the cultivators, to begin the ploughing from the east and surely all your aims shall be fulfilled. (Farmers of eastern Uttar Pradesh, if they plough from east to west, then puddling/planking is done north to south and vice-versa, Pers. Commn.—G.S. Saha).

  1. The man sets his hands to the plough either on the days of the full moon or the new moon, will be fated to suffer sorrows throughout the whole life. His bullocks will suffer from gout (i.e., remain inactive), and he will suffer from eternal lack of peace. He who violates this injunction of Khana will do so at his peril.

Walker, 1797 in Dharampal, 1971, 1983; 235, op cit
Ploughing/Region Unspecified
The numerous ploughings of the Hindoo Husbandman have been urged as a proof of the imperfection of his instrument; but in reality they are a proof of the perfection of his art. It is not only to extirpate weeds that the Indian Husbandman reploughs and cross-ploughs; it is also to loosen the soil, apt to become hard and dry under a tropical sun; and hence it becomes necessary to open the earth for air, dew and rain.
Paul Richards, 1986; 88, op cit
Ploughing/Semi-arid Region
‘Ploughing’ (hoeing) immediately follows broadcasting. To plough (pu), in the context of upland rice farming in Sierra Leone, means to scratch the soil surface lightly with a long-handled narrow-bladed hoe (kali). Some farmers prefer short-handled types, particularly at the beginning of the ploughing season, and change from narrower to broader blades according to soil and seed conditions.

Gupta, Anil K

Field Notes of Village Kirtan, Hissar, India, 1984-1985 pp.1-6.
Ploughing/Arid Region (pp.1-5)

  1. The common belief regarding summer ploughing amongst the farmers of Hissar village, in the month of April and May was: it will open up the sils into ridges and furrows and, therefore, will not cause soil erosion. On the contrary, the fields which are not ploughed will have more problems of soil erosion. Airborne silt will reach the ploughed fields and set in the furrows thus making the soil richer. The losers will, therefore, be those who do not plough their fields before the onset of winds in April and May.

  1. As regards pre-sowing ploughing, the number of pre-sowing ploughings given by farmers was more in the soils kept fallow in kharif crops for the reason of absorption and conservation of rain-water. The scientists need to be contacted on this issue. If the field is to be kept fallow before sowing of rabi crops, the number of pre-sowing ploughing will increase. Again if the gap between kharif harvesting and rabi sowing is less, the number of pre-sowing ploughings will be less. The farmers also practiced pre-sowing ploughings in relation to rainfall during the month of September and October. Every time there is a light shower, they will plough the field and plank it.

  1. For gram the pre-sowing ploughings given are less because gram needs more aeration. Fields with many clods will provide more aeration. Clods also help in checking vegetative growth of the crop. (It is also called sometimes as clod mulching. ed).

  1. Is there any relation between depth of ploughing and crop to be taken and depth of ploughing in April, May and depth of ploughing at pre-sowing stage between pre-sowing ploughings and ploughing for the seeding?

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