From an Empty Bowl to Self-Reliance : Success of Farmers of Desert Villages

- Dr. A.S.Faroda, Director and Dr. L.N. Harsh, Principal Scientist, Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpu

The Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI) has been involved in R&D activities to combat desertification for the past 47 years. Under the Institute’s extension programme's Operational Research Project (ORP), ‘Lab-to-Land’, etc., different technologies have been tried out successfully to improve productivity in the drylands. However, in recent years, the transfer of technology (TOT) programmes of the institute have been tailored to the objectives of the UNCCD to integrate all elements of development and execution of a developmental package through the participatory approach. These include:

In one such technology package, CAZRI selected some villages in Nagaur District in Rajasthan where 1,20,500 saplings of different multipurpose tree (MPT) species were raised in 22 kisan nurseries.


The nursery grower was paid one rupee per seedling for his labour. The saplings were distributed to the farmers of the villages for planting. Farmers outplanted these seedlings on sand dunes and farm boundaries. For each surviving seedling, the farmer was paid Rs. 2.50 for two years. During the current year, no financial incentive was given. Presently, 50 per cent of the seedlings have survived. Interestingly, the farmers have raised the small nurseries of Multi-purpose tree species with their own resources and about 16,500 seedlings have been raised for outplanting in the coming monsoon.

In another in situ technology programme, more than 2000 local ‘ber’ (Jujube) plants were budded with improved cultivators (Gola and Seb). All the unproductive ‘ber’ plants have been now transformed into highly productive plantations. During the second year, the budded ‘ber’ plants began fruit production. One farmer could harvest 350 kg ‘ber’ fruit and sold them at the rate of Rs.10 per kg. In the third year, the same orchard yielded 450 kg of ‘ber’, giving a profit of Rs. 4500. This year the production is expected to rise to 1000 kgs. Few farmers have taken the ‘ber budding’ technique as a part-time profession and are earning Rs.2 per budding in the nearby villages.

A yet another example of successful technology developed by CAZRI is known as ‘gum inducement technique’ in Acacia Senegal which grows naturally in the area. Using this method, gum production was enhanced to an average 500 gm gum per plant. In some cases, gum production was as high as 5 kg per plant. This has had dual effects of inducing interest in the farmers to raise Acacia senegal in their land for increasing the vegetation in the area and for the production of gum.

CAZRI states that the farmers have expressed their views after use of their technologies, as follows:

"Before implementation of these programmes of CAZRI, we were having unproductive land and our bowls were almost empty but now our farms have values as high Rs 5-7 lakhs !"