Natural calamities like cyclones not only wreak havoc the moment it lashes the coastal areas, the aftermath can be devastating too for the economy of the place. This is what happened due to the havoc caused by the cyclonic storm Aila when it struck the Sunderbans in the year 2009.
As sea water entered the agricultural lands, the fertility of the soil in the region was affected immensely. Sea water increased the salt content in the soil manifold thus making the land futile for use. At this difficult moment the organization Energising Development (Endev) came to the rescue of people and ensured their survival.
“Crop failure and heavy borrowing at high rates resulted in forced sales of livestock, large scale malnutrition and even trafficking of young girls. This demanded a solution. We decided to revive the traditional varieties of rice that were saline tolerant,” said the president of Endev, A.K. Ghosh.
Debal Deb, a member of Endev, after a thorough search through the database came up with names of six salt tolerant rice varieties earlier grown by the farmers in Sunderbans, those that were popular until a century ago. They are - Matla, Hamilton, Nona Bokra, Talmugur, Lal Getu and Sada-Getu.
After more than a year of extensive search, they acquired the of seeds of these rice varieties in very small quantities from places like National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources and remote villages of Mathurapur and Mousami Islands in Namkhana Block of the Sunderbans.
“It was at this point a project was drawn up to use micro-planning for sustainable agriculture with support from the National Council for Rural Institute, Hyderabad. Endev successfully linked five community-based organizations (CBOs) that worked with 5 lakh people in seven of the 19 blocks of the Sunderbans,” said Ghosh.
Deb also conducted experiments to find the limits of salt tolerance of these varieties. A daylong training workshop at Dhamakhali was then organized by Endev in May 2011 to provide the methods to be adopted after assessing level of soil salinity, without any chemical fertilizer or pesticides. In the monsoon of 2011, the CBOs started seed bed preparation, transplanted saplings and the crop was harvested at the end of monsoon. Endev estimated a success rate of 75-80%.
Well deserved rewards
Good deeds are never overlooked. This great endeavour has also earned accolades globally from an eminent jury comprising leading climate change scientists.
The executive secretary of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the chairperson of Global Environment Facility, the VP of Convention on Biological Diversity Bureau and the Ambassador for Small Island Nation on Climate Change were among the Nature Conservancy jurors who picked the climate change adaption programme from 87 applications for the Judges’ Mr. Ghosh received the citation and $20,000 award at a glittering function in Washington DC.
Encouraged by the honour, Endev has now decided to extend their project to other parts of Bengal as well. Surely, this initiative will be a great boost to the agricultural production of the state.
One can't always prevent damages caused by environmental disasters. But adapting to the changes can win the battle for us. And Endev has done just that. Kudos to Endev!
Comments and Moderation Policy
encourages open discussion and debate, but please adhere to the rules
below, before posting. Comments or Replies that are found to be in
violation of any one or more of the guidelines will be automatically
Personal attacks/name calling will not be tolerated. This applies to comments or replies directed at the author, other commenters or repliers and other politicians/public figures.
Please do not post comments or replies that target a specific community, caste, nationality or religion.
While you do not have to use your real name, any commenters using any MaaMatiManush.tv writer's name will be deleted, and the commenter banned from participating in any future discussions.
Comments and replies will be moderated for abusive and offensive language.