Integrating Conservation and Sustainable Livelihood of Marginalized Communities using Appropriate Technological Interventions around Valmiki Wildlife Sanctuary, Bihar
Valmiki Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected forest in the West Champaran District of Bihar. Most of the inhabitants of the villages located around it are marginalized communities of SC and ST categories namely Tharus, Mushar, Beens, Dhakad etc. who are poor, least literate and unaware about the new innovations of farming, livelihood and government schemes/programmes and linkages with them. The families are dependent on farming and various resources of the forest. Recurring floods, climate change impacts, low productivity, pest attacks, crop damages due to floods and wild animals are the biggest challenges for the agricultural activities and other sources of livelihood in this area.
With this backdrop, the project aimed to reduce the risk of natural disasters like droughts and floods as well as crop damage by wildlife. The key approach adopted was to create robust agricultural models which are climate resilient and least dependent on external inputs. Further, Farmers Field School (FFS), Agro Service Centres (ASC) and Self Help Groups (SHG) were trained and oriented on new skills and techniques for better productivity, integrated farm systems, extra income generation and enhanced linkages to available extension schemes. Introducing environment-friendly and locally adopted appropriate energy technology to reduce community's dependency on fuelwood collected from the forest was also one of the key objectives of the project.
- The dependency of farmers on market-based inputs has reduced and their savings have increased after adopting LEISA techniques
- Landless farmers have benefited from their kitchen gardens which ensure their daily vegetable supply and have increased their market purchasing power
- With interventions like new crop rotation system and cropping pattern, diversification and intercropping methods, integration of crops, social forestry and livestock rearing and time and space management, the crop productivity and total crop production have increased. This has increased the farmer income to a great extent
Extension System Based
- Farmers shared their experiences and problems in FFSs and this resulted in problem-solving by discussions and expertise of various line departments
- ASCs provided timely solutions to the farm problems such as lack of availability of the agricultural inputs, inferior inputs, high-cost chemical fertilizers, pesticides, dependency on market for seeds, agricultural materials, equipment etc.
- Energy efficient devices introduced in 125 HHs (27% of total HHs). 162 Households got LPG connections under PM Ujjawala Scheme which instantly reduced the fuelwood consumption.
- The current pattern of fuelwood consumption is saving about 3, 59,890 kg wood annually.