Under the Indo-Africa Agricultural Innovation Bridge Programme, in collaboration with Techno Serve, GRAVIS is expanding its agricultural and water-harvesting knowledge to Africa funded by USAID. The project started in 2015 in Kenya and Malawi, two very needy countries of Africa. The project is based on exchange of traditional and innovative agricultural and water-harvesting practices. The project is being implemented in remote villages of Malawi and in Kajiado area of Kenya. Both areas are very arid and drought prone, similar to the Thar Desert of India.
Main activities of the project are to construct rain-water harvesting dykes or bunds (khadins), construction of ponds and seepage wells and setting up gabion check dams. In addition, there are activities planned to set up agro-horti units to provide vegetation and nutrition. The overall idea is to transfer Indian knowledge on agriculture and rainwater harvesting to Africa, with modifications to suit the local context and needs. Further, thereby is a training component that emphasizes on training of farmers and local communities on the technologies introduced. Gender and climate change are another important components of the project, which are being studied in the context of two continents and efforts are being made to suggest areas of possible interface and exchange.
The community in Malawi is known as charcoal makers which is mostly dependent on meat production from piggery, chicken and small ruminants for food and household economy. They are basically small marginalized farmers and earn basically from charcoal making and cattle rearing. Massai Community in Kenya is nomadic in nature and does seasonal rotations. They are basically cattle rears and earn their livelihood from dairy products for which they breed livestock like cows, bullocks, goat, sheep and also donkeys as carriers. In spite of having large land holding per household, they don’t believe in land tilling. According to them, it is a crime against nature and tilling the soil destroys the land and makes it unsuitable for grazing. They use their land holdings for grazing or as economic commodity by selling during the long spell of dry temperatures.
GRAVIS in collaboration with Techno Serve has received excellent support from local organizations, authorities and communities for the project activities. Rural people of Malawi and Kenya are very hospitable and are very cooperative. GRAVIS has found it very easy to work with local people and is looking forward to completing all set milestones in due time.
Exchanges on local technologies and between grass root level development programmes are vital for community development at large. GRAVIS is very keen to share its learning with the communities in Africa and in other parts of the world, as well as to learn from other communities. While we hope that our knowledge supports African communities through the project, GRAVIS also believes that with the learning from the project our work in India will also strengthen further.
*by GRAVIS team