The state of Jharkhand receives around 90-95% of its rainfall from the South-Western monsoon winds from mid-June to September, and the rest 5-10% in the winter months, i.e. November to February. However, the last three decades show a negative trend in terms of the amount of rainfall received. On average, every third year in the last decade has been a drought.
Farmers in the area still use conventional irrigation systems, such as relying on rain through ponds, lakes, manual water pumps, and so on, making their agricultural production highly dependent on the availability of these resources. The amount and distribution of rainfall has a significant impact on the region's largely rain-fed farming system.
Given the erratic rainfall pattern of Jharkhand, and the rain-fed nature of the farming system, agriculture is the primary source of income of the people of the area for just a little over half the year. The rest of the year, they suffer from seasonal unemployment. Dependence of these communities on forest resources leads to more pressure on the environment. Due to deforestation and the demand for more resources (land or forest) to support the growing human population, there have been cases of man-animal conflict in this region. Land use for agriculture has reduced the nutritional value and nitrogen content of the soil over time, resulting in land degradation that could make it less suitable for agriculture.
In addition, Jharkhand's soil is characterised by a high rate of erosion, low water-holding capacity, low agricultural productivity, and undulating topography. Soil acidity is a limiting factor in crop output, especially for legumes, oilseeds, maize, wheat, vegetables, and fruits, among other crops. Acidity is predicted to worsen as a result of surface soil erosion and farmers' usage of excessive nitrogenous fertilisers.
Plantation of trees on the private lands of farmers can offset land degradation, reduce the pressure on forest resources, reduce man-animal conflict, create additional income for the tribal communities, and address the challenges of food security, nutrition, economic opportunities, and ecosystem services.
The project is to uplift the farmers and tribal communities by providing sustainable employment opportunities and creating fruits, medicines and other NTFPs as assets in the form of trees. Plantation of trees will address the socio-environmental challenges by reclaiming wasteland and degraded lands into forests. Fruit-bearing species will enhance the living conditions of the locals who are dependent on forest resources. Tree species for fuel wood and other minor forest produce will also ensure their economic sustainability while generating employment for the tribal communities.
Rural livelihoods are bolstered by tree products and services. Fruit, fodder, fuel, fibre, fertiliser, and timber all contribute to food and nutritional security as well as income generating and crop failure insurance. Trees will also aid in erosion management and water retention, nutrient recycling, carbon storage, biodiversity preservation, and cleaner air, as well as assisting communities in coping with harsh weather occurrences.
The project further ensures that farmers don’t rely on only one kind of crop for their incomes. It secures their economic resources, making them less susceptible to vagaries of climate, pests, market prices, and corruption which in turn leads to a better quality of life, reduced suicide, and crime rates in these regions.
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