In District Tharparkar, the BDRP target villages are remotely located and therefore have limited access to agriculture extension services. This situation is further exacerbated by the lack of timely information about change in climate and its consequent negative impacts on crops productivity. The vulnerable and poor resource farmers engage with environmentally damaging, traditional and inefficient agriculture practices.
Under BDRP, the component of capacity building of farmers on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) and Conservation, Agriculture Based Technologies and Practices was introduced in coordination with relevant government departments and UNFAO.
Appropriate trainings for the target communities based on their needs and understanding were designed and rolled out in the field.
53-year-old Noor Muhammad from village Faqeer Jo Tarr, Union Council Tarr Ahmed is a beneficiary of the CSA sessions. Noor Muhammad has six children and used to do labour work in nearby UCs before receiving the trainings. His small land outside his home was mostly a playground for the children.
Soon after receiving the practical CSA trainings in September 2019, he started sowing the two types of seeds provided to him during the sessions with technical assistance from his trainers. These included the fodder seed, purchased from the Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) – Umerkot, and the Quinoa seed provided by the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
“I learned techniques such as crop rotation, multi-cropping and zero tillage along with water conservation techniques. The field staff visited my plot and provided practical solutions for better results”, says Noor Muhammad. During the training sessions, the participants were told to share their learning with their fellow farmers. Once Noor started achieving positive results, other community members started taking interest and inquire about his knowledge thus generating a beneficial peer learning dynamics.
“Before the CSA trainings, I did not know the power of the Thar soil. I thought how can something grow when there is hardly any water. The CSA trainings changed my perception and I learned how to plant different varieties of livestock fodder such as Bhurat (indigenous seed), white dhaman, black dhaman, chamol, cotton, tomatoes, chillies along with other vegetables, with the use of less water. I shared my learning with my neighbors and now they have their own gardens”, says Noor Muhammad pointing towards the green fields in his neighborhood.
Due to the fresh produce of vegetables, the nutrition of Noor Muhammad’s family improved as well as the health of his livestock due to the fodder availability. Noor Muhammad practiced the CSA techniques learnt throughout the year for both winter and summer seasons. During the winter, Noor’s produce of carrots and white radish was in excess and he was able to sell these in the nearby market at a fair price. As a result of the income from his garden, Noor was able to open a small retail shop.
“I used to be away from home for weeks and had no schedule. The income from my produce has allowed me to open a side business of retail shop next to the garden. I get regular customers from the village and since I am working in my garden, I can simultaneously attend to the customers as well”, says Noor.