Implementation of Soil & Water Conservation Measures on the lands of Jawaja.

Need of in-situ Soil and Moisture Conservation Techniques for Cultivation of Aloe Vera:

Availability of water in the state of Rajasthan is mainly through rainfall. In arid and semi arid regions the occurrence and distribution of rainfall is not only uneven but also erratic, marked by prolonged rainless days. It fails especially at the time when it is required the most. Low and erratic distribution along with lack of rainfall at critical stages of crop growth is a common phenomenon in the state which adversely affects sustainable crop production.

Constructed Staggered Trench

Constructed Staggered Trench

The region (Jawaja block of Ajmer district) is having good potential for cultivation of Aloe Vera particularly on non arable lands. The landscape here consists of wasteland, barren, sloppy & hilly land. The region is characterized by the hills of Aravalli range and more than 70 per cent area come under non arable lands in which soil depth is the limiting factor and erosion rates are high. The climate of the region is semi arid and fall under agro climatic zone III-A of Rajasthan. The south west monsoon is the main source of precipitation and average annual rainfall is 435 mm.

Most daunting challenge faced by the farmers of this region is the scarcity of water. Surface water resources are not adequate to fulfill the need of the community whereas due to lack of sufficient recharge and availability of hard rock in substrata, the groundwater resources are also very scarce. Majority of open wells of this region dry up immediately after the withdrawal of monsoon.

Uncertainty of assured income from the land forces the small and marginal farmers in search of alternative vocation for survival leading to migration from villages to cities. The land mass alone is not sufficient to meet our requirements. Its interaction with water and ability to make water available for various uses in required quantity and quality over the entire year is also a paramount necessity because water is the most crucial input for optimum use of land either for primary production systems or for meeting any other social priorities.

The regions economy is predominantly based on agriculture. Human population of the area is mostly rural and depends on agriculture and livestock as primary means of livelihood. Low and erratic distribution of rainfall marked by prolonged rainless days, uneven and undulating topography and poor fertility results in single crop particularly in the Kharif season. Droughts are common phenomena which can be only mitigated through the adoption of in-situ rainwater conservation measures on arable and non arable lands.

In view of the increasing demographic pressure on available land and water resources of the region, there is no other option but to manage and conserve the available rainwater judiciously for sustained production of Aloe Vera plants. Various methods of in-situ moisture conservation viz V-ditch, Contour trench, staggered trenches etc. needs to be constructed depending on varying scope conditions which will certainly increase the plant growth due to availability of additional moisture stored in the trenches and will also ensure survival of the plant. Collection of rainwater through construction of masonry tank in the lower reaches will not be a sustainable intervention particularly in this remote area where no mechanism is available to recycle the harvested water in small and scattered pasture lands. The water stored in the tank will not be longer lasting and it will dry after cessation of monsoon. Under these adverse as well as varying climatic and topographic situations adoption of in-situ moisture conservation measures are only the apposite options which could be constructed in the area for ensuring growth and survival of Aloe Vera plant.

Constructed Contour Trench

Constructed Contour Trench

The area is having hilly and undulating topography with varying slope gradient in which soil depth is the limiting factor. Looking to the adverse as well as varying climatic as well as topographical situation adoption of in-situ moisture conservation measures are only an appropriate options which could be constructed in the area for ensuring growth and survival of Aloe Vera plants. Depending on the slope and land use conditions, the various in-situ conservation measures can be constructed. The type of measures for different slope along with size recommended for the region is as under:-

S.No. Type of measures Slope % Size
1. V-ditch <15% 0.60 m × 0.30 m
2. Contour Trench 15-30% 0.45 m × 0.45 m
3. Staggered Trench >30% 3 m × 0.45 m × 0.45 m

The soil excavated from the trench is heaped on downstream side so as to form embankments which will also increases the overall storage capacity of these measures. On the embankment of these measures Aloe Vera sapling can also be planted. Due to availability of soil depth on embankment and in-situ conservation measures, the survival as well as growth of the plant will certainly improve. The soil work for all these measures should be completed before the onset of monsoon. These techniques of in-situ conservation of moisture in hilly tract of this region are widely adopted to mitigate the effect of drought and water scarcity problems in non arable lands.

Company has taken this initiative with the technical support of Grameen Development Services (Registered Non-Government Development Organization, NGDO) to implement these measures on the waste land of women farmers.