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Agroforestry

Genesis:

Soil degradation resulting from harmful chemical farming practices and climate change has severe consequences for marginalized farmers, threatening their livelihoods and exacerbating poverty. In India alone, the annual loss of soil due to erosion reaches a staggering 5,334 million tons (CSWCRTI, Dehradun), while excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides leads to the depletion of 15.35 tons of fertile soil per hectare (NAAS, New Delhi). These practices contribute to the loss of vital nutrients, ranging from 5.37 to 8.4 million tons.

Research and testing in 2018 showed over 5,000 soil samples from the immediate areas with organic carbon levels of the soil depleted to dangerous lows at 0.5% against a normal of 1%. This meant chemical farming practices had degraded soil quality to the extent that within 15 to 20 years the land would be completely barren and infertile.

The root causes of soil degradation are harmful chemical farming practices. Farmers often apply more chemical fertilizers in hopes of increasing yields. However, excessive chemicals degrade soil quality, result in low-quality crops, and increase pest destruction, ultimately leading to reduced income. This forces farmers to borrow against their farms, creating a vicious cycle of debt and poverty. Consequently, many farmers are driven to abandon farming and migrate to cities in search of work. Those who do not leave farming often face such despair that they take their own lives.

In 2021 alone, 15 farmers committed suicide every day, totaling about 5,000 deaths for the year. This tragic pattern continues today. As farmers lose hope, the land that once provided sustenance and joy becomes a burden they can no longer bear.

Solutions:

Project Sahajeevan – Multicropping Farming Based Regenerative Agroforestry

Sahajeevan is a Marathi culture for symbiotic, bringing the symbiotic relationship of plants and trees of agroforestry into agriculture.

Agroforestry is the adoption of the symbiotic, self-sustaining relationship of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits. It has been practiced around the world for centuries to support agricultural production and help improve water and air quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat. These working trees can also grow fiber, food, and energy.

How Did We Manage To Make This Happen?

Agro Rangers piloted a program on one acre using multi-cropping methods to rejuvenate the soil. Pulses crops were sown between fruit trees giving nitrogen to fruit crops while the fruit crops fixed carbon for pulses crops. The symbiotic relationship and plant compatibility successfully helped to sustain soil nutrient requirements without needing any chemicals. The agroforestry approach promotes sustainable farming practices and facilitates a diversified income source for farmers. 

Supporting farmers by providing agroforestry saplings, drip irrigation systems, biofertilizers, and marketing linkages at incentivized costs; the one-acre agroforestry model quadrupled revenues, improved soil health over 3 years, sequestered 10 to 15 tons of carbon annually and reduced farming input costs.

Our Impact

Utilizing the customized agroforestry model, our pilot program farmer, Dadabhau generated over 2.5 lakhs per annum with just one acre of land. He saw a 5 times increase in revenue with a 30 percent reduction in input cost.

Our Plans For The Future

And this is our crazy goal. Agro Rangers will not stop with one Dadabhau. We want to replicate the magic we did with Dadabhau with 2,500 more farmers. That is 2,500 happy families. This is not just our mission, it is everyone’s responsibility to make financial sustainability viable for 700 million Indians. We need to stop farmer suicides and migration.

Successfully working with 100+ farmers in Shirur Taluka, Pune District, Maharashtra. Agro Rangers has expanded the model to 500+ acres annually with over 100 farmers.

In the next 3 years we will:

  • Achieve an increase in farmers’ income by up to 2 lakh rupees (2.5x) per year
  • Increase soil organic carbon by 1%
  • Sequester 25,000 tons of carbon on 2,500 acres of farmland.

For this, we are supporting farmers customized agroforestry techniques and providing them with fruit saplings, drip irrigation systems, biofertilizers, training and guidance support.

Our target in the next three years:

  1. Work with 2,500 farmers
  2. Install an 8 km pipeline from the canal to supply water to 200 acres of farmland
  3. Quadruple farmer incomes by training and facilitating agroforestry models and market linkages.
  4. Rejuvenate the soil for 2,500 acres of farms from soil organic carbon of 0.5% to +1%
  5. Achieve 25,000 tons of carbon sequestration

Composting

In order to reduce the use of expensive chemical fertilizers, farming methods need to change using organic locally available waste biomass, cow dung, cow urine, and organic waste. 

This is an innovative concept that prevents carbon dioxide emissions of biomass from burning, methane gas emissions from cow dung, and organic waste from going to landfills.