In the face of climate, health and food security changes - Challenges to agriculture – Part 11 | Sunday Observer

In the face of climate, health and food security changes - Challenges to agriculture – Part 11

27 September, 2020

Continued from September 13

Climate adaptation strategies and practices

All climatic zones: dry, intermediate and wet zones in the country support food crop production. Climate risk areas have been identified in all climatic zones and therefore, to ensure the national food security, attention has been given to all farming systems.

The adoption of climate smart agricultural systems in place of conventional farming whenever necessary seems to be a timely need. The composition of adaptation strategies and practices depends on nature and properties of farming systems. For example, guidelines for formulation of a suitable package of strategies and practices are discussed below for four major local farming systems: a) Home gardens, b) Seasonal crop based uplands, c) Dug-well based croplands and d) Paddy lands.

a) Home gardens

Farming in home gardens has been one of the oldest practices in the country. It is briefly described as growing crops and rearing food animals on an individual family owned piece of land including a house. With respect to diversity in crops and animals, home gardens in rural and urban areas show contrasting differences. Crops have been planted with a mixture of perennials and annuals in an integrated manner.

Rearing animals has been practised as small domestic units. Produce from crops and animals has been used mainly for family consumption and the excess for sharing with neighbours or obtaining an income. Crop diversity and household income mainly vary with climate and degree of urbanisation. Home gardens in rural areas have been dominated by crops, including fruits, spices, vegetable, other edible plants, medicinal plants, timber species and ornamental plants.

Tree crops in home gardens in the wet zone

The major fruit crops include amberella, anonas, avocado, banana, beli, bilin, dragon fruit, durian, guava, jambola, kebella, lavulu, lemon, lime, lovi, madan, mandarin, mangosteen, mango, mora, naminan, orange, papaw, passion fruit, pineapple, pomegranate, rambutan, rose apple, star fruit, uguressa, weralu and wood apple.

The major spices, condiments, other food additives and beverage crops are pepper, clove, goraka, nutmeg, tamarind, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, green chilli, kochchi, hot chilli (naimiris), curry leaves (Karapincha), rampe, cocoa, vanilla, coffee and tea.

The major vegetable crops include ash plantain, ash pumpkin, batana, beat, bitter gourd, brinjal, cabbage, capsicum, cassava, chinese potato, cucumber, dioscoreas, edible cannas,elabatu, elephant yams, kekiri, large leaved yams, long bean, okra, onion, pumpkin, reddish, ridge gourd, snake gourd, sweet potato, thibbotu, tomato, winged bean and leafy vegetable.

The other edible crops are betel palm, betel vine, bread fruit, cashew, coconut, jackfruit, king coconut and toddy palm. More common medicinal plants in home gardens include akkapana, katuwelbatu, kohomba, komarika, olinda, murunga, pavatta and wadakaha.

The major timber plants include atamba, batadomba, bath hik, bulu, dawulkurundu, domba, ebony, ehela, ginisapu, halmilla, hawarinuga, hulanhik, kahata, kekuna, ketakela, kirihambiliya, kolon, kumbuk, lunimidella, madan, mahogany, margosa, mee, milla, nedun, palu, paremara, pihimbiya, sabbukku, suriyamara, teak, thelambu and toona. Ornamental plants are discussed under urban home gardens.

Urban home gardens in all climatic zones have been dominated by ornamental plants. The other crops include fruit species, vegetable crops, other food plants and medicinal plants as discussed above under rural home gardens. The major ornamental crops include adiantum, agloanema, African violet, alstroemeria, anthurium, asplenium, begonia, bougainvillea, caladium, canas, cane palm, cheilanthes, cordyline, croton, carnation, chrysanthemum, dahlia, davallia, dieffenbachia, dracaena, ferns, ficus, fittonia, gerbera, gladiolus, gypsophila, hibiscus, jasmine, lilium, limonium, livistonia, marantha, monster, nelumbo, nephrolepis, orchid, osamunda, palms, peperomia, platycerium, polypodium, pteris roses, scindapsus, spathiphyllum and rhapisandzantedeschia.

Crop production resilience

Conventional home gardens need to include a suitable package of strategies and practices to strengthen crop production resilience against climatic adversity. Development of a climate smart production system includes pre-plant and post-plant practices and strategies.

The proposed pre-plant strategies and practices include: establishing on farm soil conservation practices, such as lock and spill drains and individual platforms for the wet zone lands, stone bunds and Gliricidia double hedgerows for semi-wet zone lands and earth bunds and multi-purpose bunds for the dry and semi-dry zone lands.

Adopting farm soil conservation practices could include: silt traps, side walls, chute structures, drop structures, gully structures, diversion drains, leader drains and main drains.

The other strategies and practices include: maintaining live vegetation fences to enhance biodiversity, installing percolation pits for recharging groundwater, maintaining a dead mulch for soil moisture conservation and reducing surface soil ceiling through crust formation, particularly during dry spells, establishing roof water harvesting techniques with surface storage tanks, installing supplementary crop irrigation structures, such as mini-sprinkler irrigation units linked to domestic water lifting devices, land terracing for cultivating seasonal crops, inclusive of vegetable, providing adequate drainage facility for water logged areas and establishing compost making units (preferably heap, pit, bin and drum methods).

The suggested post plant strategies and practices are: cultivation of suitable crops and varieties well suited to the earth and local climate, providing priority for planting tree species if space available, training and pruning of tree crops for shade management and facilitating sharing sunlight among plants, grafting or budding of high value crop species to land races, such as orange-wood apple combination, timely harvesting timber trees for creating space for establishing new crops, establishing bee colonies to facilitate pollination in crop plants and to obtain honey, promotion of “OK technology” based farming and pot farming for vertical expansion of vegetable cultivation, encouraging edible landscaping, maintaining manageable herds of food animals (cattle, poultry, goat, pig, duck and rabbit), introducing post-harvest operation particularly for fruits and spices, sharing crop produce with neighbours for strengthening social linkages and introducing cottage industries for extra income.

Some supplemental cottage industries well suited to local farming communities include: nursery management for selling tree saplings, ornamental plant production, cut flower industry, ornamental fish rearing, mushroom production, yoghurt production, inland fish industry and handloom industry.

To be continued