IT’S CLEAR THAT AGRICULTURE AND ANIMAL HUSBANDRY, DONE RIGHT, IS THE BEST MEANS THE WORLD HAS TODAY TO SIMULTANEOUSLY TACKLE FOOD SECURITY, POVERTY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION.

KSSS MAKES CONCERTED EFFORTS TO PROVIDE SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND ANIMAL HUSBANDRY USING PARTICIPATORY APPROACHES IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT.

 Sector Highlights

  • Soil and water conservation

Conservation and proper management of natural resources is extremely important for co-existence of man and environment. The continued deforestation, encroaching and lack of vegetative cover made easy flow of rainwater downward, erasing the loose fertile topsoil. The rainfall reduced drastically, seasons changed and water pollution increased considerably. KSSS has been promoting watershed programmes in the high ranges with an objective of making the project community conscious of the need of following practices like stone bund, soil bund, vegetative barrier, gully plugging ,contour building, renewal of well  and renovation of traditional water sources   for the conservation and management of natural resources for the ecological balance.

  • Stone bund

Stone funds are the effective method for arresting the water flow and they are also proved durable. We have promoted 20000 Meter square stone bunds under the project of Drought proofing Scheme of CAPART, INRM and SPED in Idukki and Kottayam district.

  • Soil Bund with Vegetative Measures

Soil bund with vegetative measures is the most feasible programme, both technically and financially, to put a control to increasing soil erosion. Soil bunding with vegetative plantation will give more strength to the bunding and reduce the intensity of running water and help to penetrate the slow down water into the earth. The roots pf vegetative plantation will hold the soil from edge sliding. This will reduce soil attrition to a very great extend. As part of the soil and water conservation, we have promoted 110000 square meter soil bunding in the Idukki district.

  • Gully Plugs

Gully plugs are provided for the soil conservation and to check uncontrolled transportation of sediments to lower reaches through gullies. During heavy precipitation the run-off through Gullies are checked flooding the downstream could be avoided. We have provided subsidy to  build 2300 meter cube   gully plugs in Rajakkad Panchyath under the project of CAPART

  • Fodder cultivation

Fodder cultivation was promoted among the villagers last year.  The merits of this are that the products can be used for the domestic animals in the farms and the root of these grasses is capable of controlling soil erosion.  People who have implemented this activity speak very positively about its use.

  • Agricultural Nursery

 Kottayam Social Service Society has been providing high yielding seeds and seedlings to the Self Help Group members and for the general public for agricultural and Ayurvedic purposes at cheaper rates though its agricultural nursery at the Chaithanya Pastoral Centre. Through this, we aim to promote an eco-friendly society by promoting kitchen and ayurvedic gardens. The quality we insist on and the comparatively less cost, encourage people to buy more plants.  We also save certain plants, which are facing high existence threat from the face of the earth.  This will increase our forestation, prevent drought and soil erosion and consequently able to breathe fresh air.  There are two agricultural nurseries in Thadiyampad and Karimkunnam of Idukki district.  Yearly agricultural fest is organized under this nursery at the Chaithannya Pastoral Centre.

  • Trenches

 The experiments have proved that by constructing trenches we can increase the underground water level to have water in our open wells during summer. A major percentage of the rainwater we get in the rainy season is lost especially in the hilly regions because of not having blocked and unfiltered it down to our land. This helps to conserve water in the underground and we will be able to get enough water in summer. Therefore, we included this programme as an activity of INRM and Drought proofing project. Last year we supported the villagers to dig 120000 trenches in their house holds.

  • Revival of traditional water structure

 The volume of water in the springs and streams are decreasing and some has perished, dried up, due to the decrease in the rain fall and creeping up of drought. The increasing drought is now challenging even the existence of living beings. It is highly essential to preserve the natural springs and streams  for the existence. The study conducted in the operational area found to be felt need of the area to preserve these natural blessings. WE have developed 90 traditional water harvesting structures in the project area and made them more useful and perennial.

  • Catch Water Pits

 Catch water pits are trenches with more width , depth and length. The catch water pits are proposed for the area where water flow is severe. The catch Water pits serves to infiltrate water  in to earth as well as to collecting the running topsoil. The silt is found rich in organic context which could be applied as organic manure effectively.

  • Renovation of well

 We have supported more than 100 people for the renovation of unused well. This project helps to avail drinking water in the hose premises. This well reduces the drudgery of women to collect water from long distance.

  • Rain water harvesting

KSSS has built rain water harvesting tanks in the areas which are severely affected by droughts.  As an experiment to find a solution to the drinking water problems of the poor, we have constructed rainwater-harvesting tanks each with a minimum capacity of storing 10000 liters of water. We have also provided awareness classes in the village level on the usefulness, cost and other technicalities of the tanks. So far we have constructed 195 tanks of 10000 liters capacity, 115 tanks of 5000 liters two tanks with the capacity of 75000 litters and the largest one we have so far made is the one which has the capacity of 1.2 lakh litters of water in the compound of Caritas hospital.

  • Construction of Check Dams

Two check dams were constructed in the villages of Marika and Thadiyampad with the support ofAndheri Hilfe-Bonn,Germanyfor the utilization of the villagers in these areas for agriculture and household purposes.

  • Awareness programme and capacity building

With the object of creating awareness on natural resources and capacitating the public we have organized different programs for the public. The programmes organized as part of the awareness creation is as follows:

  • Village level awareness classes: Village level awareness classes and seminars once in every six months for two years. It is very essential to create awareness on more employment chances in the field of agriculture. So through this programme the holistic development of the villagers is envisages
  • General awareness on participatory watershed development programme: The farm club members shall be educated on the importance of watershed conservation and development programmes. Soil and water conservation measures were introduced in the training programme to the members.
  • Leaders training : Training shall be organized for the leaders of the farm club group and also for the SHG groups.
  • Awareness on eco-friendly living  and organic farming and bio diversity conservation; The farm club  leaders were providing training on  eco-friendly living  and organic farming and bio diversity conservation periodically
  • Information Desk

Dissemination of information is a need of time. The right information at the right time will catalyze overall development of the people’s organization. Here we collect and disseminate information, indigenous knowledge and details of emerging trends in agriculture etc.  to farmers for fruitful application towards eco-friendly development. The dissemination of the same will encourage the farmers for future reflection and action

  • Seed  bank

We have developed and implemented the concept of seed bank among the farmers. The farmers will contribute the high quality seeds to the seed bank and other farmers can use it for sow and make use of the benefit out of it.. The dissimilation of the seed will help the farmers to produce high quality product and yield.

  • Food Security programme

With the participation of the KSSS’s self-help group members, the Bhakshya Mithra Programme (a food security programme) has been initiated for one year with the aim to produce and supply nutritious and poison free food items. Through the Bhakshya Mithra Programme, KSSS has implemented 10 major activities such as ‘Ente Veettumuttathu’, Jaiva Gramam’, ‘Karshaka reksha’, ‘Karshaka sureksha’, ‘Ente Krishibhumiyiloode’, ‘Neerthada Vikasam’, ‘Arivukal Avakashangal’, ‘Grameena Vipanikal’, ‘Oorja Sree’, and ‘Ente Bhakshanam Ente Gramathil.

  • Organic farming  with organic certification

Organic Agriculture plays an important role as on alternative to the chemical based agriculture. Organic  agriculture includes all agricultural system that promote the environmentally, socially and economically sound production of high quality food sufficient to feed all the people, while protecting the soils and enhancement their fertility as well as minimizing environmental pollution and the use of non- renewable natural resources.  KSSS promotes organic farming of plantlets and seedlings, bio fertilizers etc. By the special intervention of KSSS, about 135 farmers get organic certification with INDOCERT.

  • Exposure Visit

We have organized exposure programme for the members of farm club and also for the leaders of SHG for getting exploration in different fields. The members were taken to the KVK and other similar agriculture centers. The exposure programme convinced the members by the positive impacts and fruitfulness of scientific agriculture practices.

  • Watershed based participatory area development programme

Watershed management is not only a practice but also a philosophy based on socio- economic and political justice. It is an environmentally sound and ideal approach for a community based participatory development action. Watershed management is advocated by developmentalists  as a permanent solution to the recurring drought and flood which create a host of socio-economic problems in our country. Watershed management means management of the watershed and all its resources by the people, for the people, to produce all their basic requirements for the existence and development

We have given training to farm club members on watershed conservation and development programmes. Soil conservation measures like afforestation multi-crop cultivation, social forestry, vegetative barrier and fodder cultivation, scientific agricultural practices, water harvesting measures like trenches, counter bunding, soil and mud bunding, gully plugging, check dams, roof water harvesting were promoted in the operational areas.

  • Livestock

As part of the income generation programme we have promoted different live stocks in the people especially self help group members. The members are get an adequate income from this for their livelihood.

We have promoted:-

  • cow rearing
  • Quill rearing
  • Rabbit rearing
  • Goat rearing
  • Poultry units
  • Quill rearing
  •  Fish farming
  • Ornament fish farming.

BACKYARD POULTRY UNIT PROMOTION PROGRAMME

Poultry farming under backyard system is as old as its civilization. Requirement of small space, low capital investment, quick return from outlay and well distributed turnover throughout the year make poultry farming remunerative. KSSS initiated poultry farming at grassroots level with the idea that rearing of poultry provides an excellent opportunity for gainful employment to the SHG members. Under this programme selected members were given a subsidy amount of `100/- to commence the unit. In order to promote the programme, KSSS imparts training at periodical intervals according to the need in the operational villages.

FOOD SECURITY THROUGH KITCHEN GARDEN PROGRAMME

KSSS SHG members proved that it is not necessary that availability of lots of space is not a priority to grow fruits and vegetables in one’s own premises. Kitchen gardening was one widespread activity promoted innovatively by KSSS in the target villages. KSSS encouraged its members to grow kitchen gardens and reduce their expenditure on food. Surplus crops could be sold off to generate additional income for the household.

SMALL-SCALE FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PROCESSING AND PRODUCTS

Fruit and vegetable processing activities have been set up at the central level and supported in the villages to generate new sources of income for the SHG members and also to develop new value-added products.

MEDICINAL PLANT CULTIVATION PROGRAMME

Medicinal Plants form the major resource base of our indigenous health-care traditions. Kerala has been at the forefront of Ayurvedic revolution in the country. Recognising the need, KSSS in conjunction with the State Medicinal Plant Board commenced the promotion of medicinal plants in its targeted villages.

ONE-PADDY ONE-FISH CULTIVATION PROGRAMME

The main advantage from the practice of One-Paddy One-Fish Cultivation is that, the land gives sustained yield year after year. The economic and energy efficiency of this agro-ecosystem is known to be high and rice production is deemed to be surplus after meeting local needs. An understanding of this agro-ecosystem function becomes significant and it offers opportunities for redevelopment with additional scientific inputs. Hence, KSSS have made attempt in implementing the scheme with successful result.

RABBIT REARING PROGRAMME

Imparting training has been an important activity of KSSS. With the assistance of NABARD, KSSS imparted trainings on Scientific Rabbit Rearing Programme to SHG members of target villages. Rabbit-rearing has proved to be a prospective activity for income generation and self employment.

CENTENARY FARMER- COUPLES’ MEET (Centenary Karshaka Dambathi Samgamam)

In order to diffuse effectively the celebration spirit of the Archdiocesan Centenary to the farmers’ community at the grassroots, Farmer-Couple get-togethers were conducted at KSSS’ Regional levels. Mar Mathew Moolakkatt, Metropolitan Archbishop of Kottayam presided over the meetings in general and various prominent leaders inaugurated the get-togethers in the different Regions. Thus Hon. Minister for Rural Development – Shri. K.C. Joseph, Hon. Revenue Minister – Shri. Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Hon. Minsiter for Water Resources – Shri. P.J. Joseph, Hon. MLA and Minister, Shri. Mons Joseph inaugurated the get-togethers at Kidangoor, Edackat, Chunkom and Uzhavoor Regions respectively. These get-togethers which were organized under the general coordination of the male SHG members were a splendid programme and presented a novel experience to all. Diverse competitions were conducted along with the get-together and the lucky farmer-couple was found through lucky-draw and specially honored. The warm Reception arranged with each get-together was also an encouragement and forum for strengthening the we-feeling among all participants.

TRAINING ON ORNAMENTAL FISH FARMING

The keeping of ornamental fish in aquaria is an age-old hobby, popular even today irrespective of age, class, creed or geographical variations in the residing area of hobbyists. KSSS in association with NABARD provided training on Ornamental-fish farming on June 18th with the aim of opening new economic opportunities and prospects. 49 representatives from the different villages in the operational areas of KSSS participated in the training. Classes were taken by eminent personalities from Matsyafed – the Kerala state Co-operative Federation for Fisheries Development Ltd. (It is the Apex Federation of primary level welfare societies in the coastal fishery sector started with the objective of ensuring economic and social development of the fishermen community through various schemes aimed at promoting the production, procurement, processing and marketing of fish and fish products. The individuals who have taken training in Ornamental fish culture have established ornamental culture and breeding centres

MUSHROOM NURTURING PROMOTION PROGRAMME

With the aim of creating more income opportunities for SHG members, monthly-training in Mushroom Cultivation is being provided at the central level from this reporting year. This programme has paved new ways for many individuals in society to derive income and contribute towards food security. Mushroom farmers sustain their production through the effective sale of mushrooms to available local and external markets. KSSS envisions promoting mushroom cultivation among farmers and facilitating supporting services in the future. During the training program, resource persons taught scientific aspects of mushroom cultivation, making of seed beds; value-added products derived from mushroom products and arranged opportunities for practical exposure at KSSS’ Mushroom production unit.

TRAINING THE LEAD FARMER

KSSS in collaboration with NABARD arranged training for the lead farmers. On July 15th, training was provided to a selected few Lead farmers from 5 regions (Uzhavoor, Edacat, Kaipuzha, Kidangoor and Kadathuruthy). Mr. Mohan V., DDM, NABARD for Kottayam and Alappuzha districts explained the aim of the special Training, qualities required of a good farmer and also encouraged their participation in forthcoming trainings. Mr. A.T. Thomas, renowned environment activist took a seminar highlighting the indicators and effects of Climate Change already affecting Kerala and the urgent need for organized efforts to counter environmental problems. 55 Farmers participated in the training. The Training was arranged as a preliminary activity for initiating Joint Liability Group (JLG) project of NABARD.