Organic Farming

Rainfed agriculture also offers opportunities in the areas of organic farming. Coarse (nutritious) cereals, beans, medicinal oils and herbs can be grown in identified niche areas for export purpose. The strategy here should be to realize more value from relatively lower yields and capitalize on the inherent advantage of low input use by small farmers in drylands (many areas are by default organic) rather than go for more expensive and complicated methods of organic production.

Change in food habits leading to declining consumption of coarse cereals is affecting farmers profitability. Coarse cereals are critical not only the nutritional security of the poor but also to support the livestock in dry areas. Besides promoting them as major fodder crops, value addition into health foods and bio fuels can contribute to improved profitability to farmers. One of the recent project under NATP showed that alcohol can be produced from stalks and grains of sweet sorghum on a comparative scale to molasses but with less use of water and fertilizers; more importantly providing higher returns to rainfed farmers who grow sorghum. Use of coarse cereals as livestock/poultry feed can be promoted by linking farming groups with food industry. Similarly, significant value can be added at the farm level to large number of rainfed horticulture products which are grown by poor farmers through simple methods of drying and primary level processing (for supply to industry) which can be done by women.

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