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Supporting Sustainable Livelihoods: Case Study on our Tasar Operations conducted by United Nations - World Food Programme & International Fund for Agricultural Development.
Organic Spices Sub-Sector Development  
Outreach-Dist-5, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Pauri Garhwal; Block- 19, Valleys-38, Villages-389; Households- 4572.

Work in this sector was started after a careful value chain assessment which indicated that local production of certain organic spices could compete in the end markets. There was demand from AT India women SHGs that they want such cash generating activity which can possibly reduce the labor in agriculture and avoid the wild animal interference in agriculture crops. The Cultivation of turmeric, ginger, garlic and large cardamom has several benefits such as it is less labour intense, remunerative to cultivators, allows for decentralized processing and eliminates the problem faced by field crops being destroyed by wild animals thus reopening the cultivation of fields that had previously been abandon. From an initial small numbers of 250 producers in 2008 today the programs has been working with more than 4500 women by involving them in cultivation of organic spices in 5 districts of the state of Uttarakhand.

The spices sub-sector has augmented the technical, managerial, marketing and distribution capacity of AT India and its spin off organization viz. Devbhumi Natural Products Producers Company Ltd and Ushamath Mahila Mahasangh (UMM) together as this was the new sector introduced in 2008.

To strengthen the spices value chain certain risk reduction measure are being introduced as follows.


i. Trainings in biological control mechanisms for spice producer groups
Field based practical trainings are organized for spice producers groups (PGs) in order to make them aware about pre-treatment of seeds of spices as well as protecting the plants against various diseases. So far 87 trainings were organized during the period in which more than 2600 participants were trained to apply the scientific methods in seed treatment to enhance the resistance of seed to diseases. PGs were also trained in disease identification and treatment for the spices. Bio agents and neem oil given to the participants as part of demonstrations.

The trainings have not only led to enhanced awareness about diseases and its prevention amongst PGs but also helped in reducing the instance of diseases in selected spice crops during the sowing season. In the long term, once the biological control mechanisms are regularly adopted by the producers it is expected that the instance of crop diseases would significantly be reduced.

ii. Networking with Expert Institutions
Networking and linkages have been established with various expert institutions in order to seek their expertise for capacity building of the spice PGs. Thus Linkages are developed with Agricultural Department for providing soil testing support. The expertise of G.B. Pant Agricultural University, Pantnagar is being utilized for capacity building of the producer groups relating to biological agents while the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) as well as the Horticulture Department are roped in providing inputs and trainings for improved cultivation.

iii. Training on Composting Technology
In order to promote the use of composting technology several village wise trainings are organized across the 5 project districts. The purpose of these trainings was to promote composting technology for organic production of spices and thereby reduce the insects attack on the crops. Farmers are informed that apart from improving soil fertility, composting technology also help in reducing insect attacks. Crop attacks by white grub are a major issue for mountain farmers and the producers thus being made aware about composting which directly helps in curbing white grub attack in crops which mainly breeds in non-decomposed manure. For composting technology input supply on commercial basis 184 BSPs have been trained and provide the necessary inputs to start the input supply.

iv. Soil testing
With the help of the Agricultural department soil testing has also been carried out in all 5 project districts. A total of 963 soil samples were collected and analyzed. The analysis of soil samples reveals that the average soil PH in the project areas is between 6 to 7.5 while the nutrient content in the soil is Nitrogen 0.65 to 0.85; Phosphorous 19.8 to 27; and, Potassium 112 to 424.8. Next step is to involve the soil and nutrients experts to provide the information / knowledge to the PGs, based on the soil testing reports obtained from laboratory, for sustaining / improving the soil health and soil fertility. Moreover, AT, India plans to take up soil health monitoring on a long term basis and hence the current soil samples shall serve as a baseline for monitoring of soil health in the future.

v. Literature Developed for dissemination of knowledge
The relevant informative leaflets have also been developed and published by AT India for awareness generation / information dissemination among the spice PGs specifically to spread awareness among the spices PGs regarding hazards / risks to their crops several publications focusing on DRR on various spice crops are developed. These booklets help in spreading mass level awareness about various potential risks to spice crops and serve as ready references for producers and help then in undertaking preventive measures prior to outbreak diseases and pest / insect attacks in the crops. Some of the important literature developed is as follows:
. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in turmeric and ginger
. DRR in garlic
. DRR in chilli
. DRR in large cardamom
In addition pamphlets on promoting composting technology and organic farming have also been published. These include:
. Composting technology
. Significance of organic farming.

vi. Training on hygienic and safe storage facilities
Training for over 200 spices PGs are organized on hygienic and safe storage practices. Spice PGs were made aware about the various risks to spice produce including damage by rats, fungal infections and rotting and mold and fungal attack. The purpose of these trainings is to make PGs aware about the process of storing the seeds and harvested crops in order to prevent diseases and introduction of safe storage techniques which help in retaining moisture specifically in preserving seeds for next season.

Highlights:

District
Blocks
No. of villages
No. of Producers
Annual Average Income per HH (Rs)
Rudraprayg
3
126
1350
16,500.00
Chamoli
6
75
1133
Pauri
3
90
832
Tehri
5
65
933
Uttarkashi
9
33
324
Total
19
389
4572

From the above table it is evident that the activities has resulted economic impact directly and indirectly. It will have certain impacts on the conservation as introduction of minor irrigation technology for the first time in mountains of Uttarakhand had been demonstrated which is expected to engage the villagers in substantive discussions about water conservation and water harvesting practices.