Rural Participatory Nurseries secure Sustainable Income and Land Degradation Neutrality
The total number of operational land holdings in Rajasthan is 7.7 Millions. The net irrigated area has increased by 140% in the last three decades. The increase in irrigation facilities has led to the development of the new agroforestry and horticulture systems which includes cultivation of trees with the vegetable crops. This has enhanced the demand of Quality Planting Materials (QPM) among the farmers.
In addition, the several vegetables and orchard trees in the Kitchen Gardens are some well proven methodologies where the Quality Planting Materials have been in demand. The non-availability of genuine and disease-free planting material at the local level has led the farmers to travel long distances to get the quality planting materials.
At present, only 1/3rd demand for the planting material is being met by the existing registered Nurseries; the rest is met from the unorganized sectors, implying the need for establishing more Nurseries in the organized sector. To solve the problem, the ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, Rajasthan developed a Model Nursery in an area of 0.02 Hectare at the Village Paldi Ranawatan, Bhopalgarh Tehsil, 80 Kms. from the main City.
The Institute formed a group consisting of 10 farm men and women and provided the Skill Training Programme on Commercial Nursery Management like development of rootstock and scion, cutting, budding & grafting techniques, pest & disease management and media preparation, etc. Along with facilitating the Group in record keeping and marketing, the Institute also provided the necessary infrastructure, viz., fencing, shade house, mother plants, watering facilities and other inputs like nursery tools, seeds, nursery media, fertilizers, poly bags, protrays and their stands to the Group.
Based on the demand, the Nursery started producing the Seedlings of Fruits, Vegetable and Agro-forestry Species. Consequently, the Group Members’ income increased to more than double within a period of 2 Years. Overall, the Group Members had 870 Man days of employment, produced 77,055 Seedlings and earned Rs. 6, 83,750 by selling the various seedlings with a B:C ratio of 2.98.
Before initiation of the Project, Smt. Babu Devi, one of the group members had an annual income of Rs. 20,000. Working in the Nursery helped her to earn Rs. 40,000 (now 77% of her total income) in 120 Man days per Year.
Presently, the Individual Group Members are earning Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 40,000 and are getting an employment for 100 to 150 Man days in a Year. The income of 10 Members of the Group is ranging from 18% to 77% of their total agricultural income. The Nursery provided an additional advantage of employment generation since its activities coincides with the lean farming season from January to June Months. Inspired by the success of the present Nursery, the Members are motivated greatly and planning to expand it further. The Members are trained to use the Social Media and other extension platforms for selling the seedlings and getting good response not only from the nearby Villages and cities; but, also from the neighbouring Districts.
The Nursery is now a Model for the nearby Villagers. Developing such Nurseries, especially, in the rural areas could address the challenges of unemployment, labor migration and retaining Youths in Agriculture, etc. Additionally, by selling 72, 917 quality seedlings, the area under the improved agroforestry systems has extended to approximately 365 Hectares of land in Rajasthan which will help in achieving the land degradation neutrality as envisioned by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi at the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought.
(Source: ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, Rajasthan)