The purpose of this study was to investigate and develop a comprehensive understanding of the livelihood practices of a very impoverished rural community, particularly in the area of agriculture. From these finding, the aim was to devise interventions, in collaboration with the villagers, that might provide more sustainable livelihood and food security through innovative, small-scale agricultural practices.AbstractOverall statement: The Purpose of this study is to develop Problem statement : Methodology: Students were part of the Live-in-Labs program , has done naturalistric method of study, where they intrviewed the farmers , obervations. Results (overall) to lead into interventions how u=its impact on society.AgricultureAbstractAgriculture is not only an essential practice to provide food security for the world. It can also greatly impact livelihood and food security issues of impoverished communities that suffer from minimal development. This study focused on understanding the serious problems faced by an impoverished village community in Bihar, India.
A naturalistic study was conducted and data collection methods included semi-structured interviews with villagers, field and observational analyses, meetings with key community leaders, and secondary data. Results revealed outdated irrigation techniques practiced by the small-scale farmers. Additionally, there is a lack of knowledge of how to create sustainable income for those dependent upon limited daily labor jobs for only few months of the years. But the overarching theme of the results indicated primary issues of a lack of available resources that impact livelihood opportunities, which in turn affects economic and food security. These interconnected issues related to resource poverty can be addressed through improvising smart technology innovations that can compensate for lack of resources to support sustainable income generation activities and food security. Working in collaboration with villagers, novel kitchen gardens utilizing organic methods, can help to support economic and nutrition needs year-round. Also, innovative irrigation techniques could greatly help the village. These interventions have the potential to help the entire village become more sustainable, thus slowly rising from impoverished states.
The socio-political position of the community in discussion makes it interesting to understand the role agriculture plays as a potential development opportunity. Multiple issues were discovered in both hamlets. The more successful community (less poverty) practiced agriculture production, and some daily labor jobs were given to daily laborers from the more impoverished village community. For the more impoverished hamlet, village families demonstrated a significant lack of natural resources showed signs of malnutrition, and the income earners relied only labor jobs (some dependent upon neighboring farmers) that were limited to only a few months of the year. For the farming hamlet, irrigation challenges negatively impacted cultivation yields. Results indicated a need to introduce innovative technological catalysts to help the impoverished villagers cultivate The socioeconomic position of the community in discussion makes it interesting to understand the role agriculture plays as a potential development opportunity.
INTRODUCTION:Agriculture plays a vital role in the Indian economy. Agriculture, along with fisheries and forestry, accounts for one-third of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is its single largest contributor. Seventy percent of rural households in India depend on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood .Bihar is the third largest state with respect to population, and seventh in terms of area in India. Agriculture is still an important sector in Bihar since it contributes about 16% to State’s GDP and provides employment to about 70% of working force in rural area. Ratanpur village located in the Ara district, Bihar, comes under the Agro Climatic Zone III B (Southern West)3.
The Agro Climatic Zone III B Bihar (Southern West ) has a vast area of agricultural land. Most of these lands are owned by the Rajput community who are the forward or higher caste people and rest are owned by the government. Ratanpur village comprises of the highly underprivileged Musahar community (Musahar literally means Rat eaters). This community is classified as mahadalit by the state government of Bihar. Ratanpur (Figure 1) comprises approximately 120-150 people from the Musahar community. The people of this Musahar community are landless agricultural labourers, depending on land owned by the Rajputs for work as daily laborers.
Some of the Rajputs live in a village called Hadiabad, located at about three kilometers to the northeast of Ratanpur. The two closest towns are Aara (Aarah), the district headquarters (25Kms) and Gharani (6Kms), the marketplace for most of the village produce.The village has rains during the monsoon for about 3 months (mid-June to September) (Figure 2) during which the Rajput landowners employ the Musahars for an average wage of ?200/day in the agricultural field. This is the main source of income for the most households in Musahar community.
Other opportunities for livelihood, during the rest of the year are very limited. An ancient irrigation canal system passes through Ratanpur and neighboring villages connecting most agricultural fields. It carries the overflow waters from the nearby perennial river (Figure 2 label) and is the only source of irrigation for these fields. However, it usually runs dry except for the monsoon, severely limiting any agricultural activity during the winter and summer seasons. The main crops grown during the monsoon are rice and mustard. Wheat and spices are sporadically cultivated during the winter.
Figure 2a: Climograph of Ara (Arah) (25kms away) Figure 2b: Temperature Graph of Ara (Arah) (25kms away)Methodology:We did a naturalistic study of how the village people work, live, cook etc., by staying at Hadiabad for a week and visiting Ratanpur and spending the whole day, every day, with the Musahar community for the entire duration. Our method of data collection included semi-structured interviews, meetings with community leaders, observational studies, and survey mapping of the village. The questionnaire for the interview included questions related to daily occupation, agricultural cultivation, additional income sources, household responsibilities, and expenses. The village is comprised of 20 households of which 16 could be interviewed. Four households refused to interact and were not included in the study.
The number of individuals in each household ranged from 2 to 20, with members spanning two to three generations. The majority of the individuals interviewed were women and few youngsters since the men were at work on the fields owing to the monsoon season. Observational studies included investigating other sources of food available to this community, and resources available for possible income generation.
Additionally, one poultry yard owned by a Rajput family in Hadiabad was investigated. This was studied for the purpose of potential replication in Ratanpur for the benefit of the Musahar households. Meetings were held with the District Collector, Aara and the Chairman of the Zilla Parishad on matters related to education, healthcare, irrigation and waste management in Ratanpur and Hadiabad. Field studies and surveys of available irrigation systems and water sources were also conducted. A diesel pump-based irrigation system located on a field between Ratanpur and Hadiabad was studied and assessed in terms of the feasibility of implementation of such a system in Ratanpur. Results IThe analysis of data gathered from interviews indicated that the Mushahar villagers earn an approximate annual income per family of about ?10,000, and the average size of the family is approximately five persons. This means the actual money to support each member is ?2000 per person per year.
This means that the income per person per month is ?150.Average expenses per family for running the household each year is about ?4000 on average. Converting this to per person, the average amount is ?1,000 each year, which means that expenses are estimated to be about an average of ?100 per person per month for families averaging five members. Monthly expenses of include such items and services as medical needs and vegetables. Villagers have access to extra ration through the Government supported Ration shop, but they reported that the amount allocated is not, in many cases, sufficient for the whole family as ration is given only once in three months.Figure 3: Major sources of income as reported by the individuals of the Musahar community. The people basically being agricultural labourers have jobs only during the monsoon season (i.
e. 3 months). Table 1: The economic analysis of the Musahar Community (All values are approximate )income / family/ year( ? )10000number of people / Family5income per person/ year( ? )2000income/ person / month( ? )150expense on Ration from Ration shop / year( ? )500expense on cooking fuel* / year( ? )3500expense/Family for running household/year( ? )4000expense/Family for running household/person/year( ? )800expense/Family for running household/person/month100During the field visit a village map was made which helped in approximately locating water sources in the village. Then the nearest possible water source was observed which is not a perennial river and was a tributary of the river Ganga. There were collection ponds across the fields that stored water, both from rains and also from the overflow of the canal. This stored water was used for the rest of the season. Most of the ponds in the village were in a state wherein it had some waste, had lot of broken trees in it and thereby not in a proper condition making it difficult to store water.
Figure 4: State of a collecting pondTable 2: Cost of diesel irrigation/hour Average cost of diesel/litre(?)Amount of diesel required/hr (l)Average Cost/hour(?) 60160Rajputs do small scale organic farming in the village, giving daily work to the Musahar people (1 member/land). This produce isn’t for sale because the cultivation is done on small lands (approx. 150 sqft.) with manual irrigation from hand pumps. Thus, the Rajputs either use it for themselves or give it to the other villagers for very little amount.During the non-monsoon season or mostly weeks before the start of the monsoon season the Rajput landlords use diesel pump to irrigate their fields and prepare them for the sowing process.
The process generally involves irrigating the fields and ploughing them manually (for which they employ two Musahar people) for two days and then next day they sow seeds randomly and allow it grow to a certain level (approximately 2 ft) and then pick the crop manually and place them in rows in the field. It was observed that the cost and water requirement required to irrigate a piece of land using diesel pump was ?60/hr. The cost involved in buying diesel and having only limited irrigation pumps at fixed locations throughout the fields creates challenges in using the available pumps. Canals or flow paths were also constructed as an irrigation method to divert the water supply to the targeted lands. Farmers also cannot draw more groundwater as their day to day needs of water supply also come from the hand pumps. The other source of water we observed is through the canals from the nearby village where there is a dam routed in such a way as to supply water, but this is only available when the water exceeds a particular limit in the other village.
Data also indicated an agricultural problem with the intrusion of animals (like Nilgai, see Figure 5), which eat the crops. This has been a serious problem, especially during the monsoon in which time everyone among smaller farmers cultivates rice, trying to earn as much income as possible. But these animals destroy their crops, resulting in significant losses for the farmers during that season. Thus, animal invasion and eating of crops causes much hardship for the villagers, limiting their yield, and leaving little for selling. So far they have been trying to prevent this by growing grass around the borders of crop fields so that Nilgai eat the grass before they can get into the crop areas. Also, some farmers have erected netted barriers across their fields.
A third approach observed to prevent animal invasion of crops is the hiring of men to safeguard the crops. But these measures all increase the overall agricultural costs for the farmers, adding an economic burden upon them.Figure 5: Intrusion by wild animals (Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus).
Thirty percent of the Musahar community families own pigs, goats or chickens. Pigs are purchased for about ?1100 each, and the cost of one goat is approximately ?500. These animals are raised (Figure 6) and eventually sold for ?5000 per goat, and ?9000 per pig.
But this is not done as a business as they don’t have enough money for investment.Figure 6: A mud-walled pigsty with a rough thatched roof.DiscussionThis study was an assessment of the agriculture sustainability of the Musahar community of Ratanpur, Bihar, India. Interviews, field studies, observational studies, and so on were utilized in data collection.Results of this study indicated that the Musahars were mostly agricultural labourers, and did other work as well such as construction and fishing for their food and income. In short, these people are landless agricultural labourers. Their methodology for labor work on farms is old fashioned and primitive.
They are unaware of the modern technology used in farming.From this study the approximate annual income for a household is around ?10,000. Based on the calculations in the result we can find that the per person per month has ?100 approximately left for his monthly expenses that includes medical, other household expenses. The grains bought for three months from the ration shop are not sufficient for a household consisting of five members on an average.
United Nations defines below $1.20/day as a poverty state, these people earn the same per month. They come under this extreme poverty state. Thirty percent of the Musahars own pigs and goats. These are bought and sold. There is a good profit in breeding them.
This is not done as the people don’t have even the initial investment and even if they get it, they mostly cook them for eating. From the experience during the stay in the village we felt that the people here expect everything for free. They aren’t ready to be brought out of this state of poverty line.These people are very economically impoverished, and having minimum 3 and a maximum of 12 children per family, makes it difficult to sustain the family.
The children there very weak and some are affected by Kwashiorkor which mainly roots towards the lack of proper nutritional diet (figure 7).Pie Chart data:The major source of income of the villagers was found out by asking the people what were the possible sources of income and in which season they get what kind of jobs. This led to a conclusion that around 56% of the population had daily wage agricultural work as the major source of income which is main source only during monsoon whereas 18% of the people depended on construction work for their income which is main source during non-monsoon season. Construction work comes within their place where they build clay houses for others in return for Rs.150/day and then 25% of the people depend on other jobs like going to the town for any kind of daily labour work or fishing, which is main source during the non-monsoon season.Data from kitchen garden:Only one interview was taken from a person using Kitchen gardening which is done by (5-6) Rajput community people at Ratanpur. The size of the land used will be about (?????), they grow different varieties of vegetables like potato, brinjal etc.
and the type of irrigation is manual i.e. they collect water from the hand pump and manually water the plants. The number of worker per land is 1 where they employ the musahar community people, the manure comes from the waste from the poultry farm (where they raise chicken and sell them to companies in the town) that is present adjacent to the kitchen garden and also from the cow dung which they pile up in certain places in the village. The produce from the kitchen garden is taken by the Rajput for themselves and they seldom sell the produce.Ideas for a solution:Vertical Farming:This method involves the practice of producing crops in vertically stacked layers and/or integrated in other structures. The modern ideas of vertical farming use indoor farming techniques where all environmental factors can be controlled.
These facilities utilize artificial control of light, environmental control (humidity, temperature, gases etc.). It has the advantage of integrating latest technologies into it like energy management where we implement the usage of solar/wind energy for pumping in water and for artificial lighting systems; water management where we implement rainwater integration for healthy and natural yield of crops; hydroponic systems i.e. pipeline mechanism with filters, usage of the excess water from the soil can be collected and recycled and reused, addition of necessary minerals, monitoring systems where we integrate with sensors can be used to limit the water usage, mineral usage, light usage etc.The other advantages of Vertical farming are, any crop can be grown at any season, reduced labour cost, protection from heavy rainfalls, free from pests and pesticides and mixed cropping. Vertical farming idea in a more suitable way for the village like building with available resources, cost effective design etc.
could be a solution because each house in the village has a small piece of land adjacent to their home which is unused, the main problem which was noted from the survey in the village was lack of irrigation water during the non-monsoon season which leads them to unemployment and hence financial crisis, so if we can construct an effective vertical farm the positives are that they get nutritious food for themselves which is necessary at present as we have observed the malnutrition affected children who are not able to get necessary nutrients because of the cost involved in buying vegetables and the next advantage is that they can also sell the produce which gives a way for income generation. Figure 7: Child affected by malnutrition.The irrigation facility of the village is basically the overflow from a nearby perennial river, a tributary of river Ganga, which flows through the canal stream.
This stream is diverted through all the fields of the village and some of it joins the river and some flows through the nearby village.