Rural System's


 The Tamrakar Project 

Sustaining a superior rural system   




The Tamrakar Project was initiated by an email from Anand Tamrakar to Professor Robert H. Giles, Jr. in February, 2005. Mr Tamrakar was starting a horticulture clinic in Bhilai, Chhattisgarth, India. As I first understood, he conducted a kitchen-garden and seasonal- flowers consultancy from his clinic. His customers seemed to want pictures of new gardens. He sought software relating to landscaping and general improvements, especially for the betterment of horticulture.

Anand explained in his second correspondence that he graduated from his studies in agriculture science in 1998. He was very much interested in working with the tribals' and farmers' communities. As all of us, he admitted need for support from many hands who really want to work as he did. His interest and reaching out pleased me and I decided to try to be of help.

As I explained in a subsequent letter to him, I hoped that we could work together. I wanted no money, only to learn that some ideas have been put to good use and that my web site is being seen by students and people interested in improving natural resources in India (and elsewhere). Though I was a student of botany and a home gardener, I knew that my specific knowledge about horticulture would not compare to his. I knew from past experience that there would be may things to share. I knew I would learn much from the interaction. The Internet offered a great opportunity.

I sought to assist and since I believed Rural System concepts were widely relevant, perhaps part of India's golden revolution, I suggested that we work together for our mutual education, interests, and hopefully for his financial benefits. I was also hopeful that other relations might be developed, especially with EarthQuilt.

Address:
Robert H. Giles, Jr., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus
College of Natural Resources,
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
504 Rose Avenue
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA
email Bob Giles, R. H. Giles, Jr.
I had visited India twice but never in the mid-eastern part of the country.

Ignorant of the specific details of the ecology of Bhilai and aware of the limited time to be spent, I intend to concentrate on the principles of s system for raising and managing plant crops for profit. It may be modern "horticulture" but there is not time for discussing that term and its definitions. The work here within this project may provide the basis for (and demonstration of) a system aiding in achieving sustainability of small holdings, increasing human health through nutrition, increasing employment, improving environment, and providing an export potential. It is a worthy endeavor and participation by others is very welcome.

It is clear that India now has substantial horticultural research being carried out at eight ICAR institutes (with 26 regional stations), 10 National Research Centres (on major crops) and a Project Directorate on Vegetable crops. Area specific, multi-disciplinary research is also being conducted under 14 All India Coordinated Research Projects each on Tropical, Subtropical and Arid Fruits; Vegetables, Potato, Tuber Crops and Mushrooms; Ornamental Crops, Medicinal and Aromatic crops; Palms, Cashew,
An EarthQuilt Node
Spices and Betel vine; and Post Harvest Technology at 215 centres located at various research Institutes, and State Agricultural Universities. In addition, four network research projects are in operation:

  1. vegetable crops,
  2. drip irrigation in perennial horticultural crops,
  3. protected cultivation of ornamental crops, and
  4. Phytophthora diseases of horticulture crops.
Research on horticulture is also being undertaken at several multi-crop, multi-disciplinary Institutes. Departments of Horticulture in 24 Agricultural Universities, one deemed to be University and
Chhattisgarth Districts, India
one full fledged University of Horticulture and Forestry are also engaged in horticultural research. Besides 280 ad hoc schemes supported from Agriculture Produce Cess Fund and a number of foreign-aided projects have also been in operation on specific problems of different horticulture crops.

Perhaps The Tamrakar Project can tap the results of these projects and programs with over 700 scientists to provide clear returns from these efforts and funds in this one place for its people.

Its challenges, as elsewhere in India, probably can be seen in gaining the resources and time for using biotechnology, protecting cultivation, using computer-aided land and crop system management, integrating nutrient management, using leaf nutrient standards, using biofertilizers, developing integrated animal and plant damage management systems, and using mycorrhiza innoculants.. Perhaps research can be taken up in partnership with the private sector to sustain cost-effective studies long enough to yield conclusions on topics like producing hybrids, producing green house flowers, adding value, and exports with significant local benefits.

Paddy is the principal crop and the central plains of Chhattisgarh are known as rice bowl of central India. Other major crops are coarse grains, wheat, maize, groundnut, pulses and oilseeds. The region is also suitable for growing mango, banana, guava & other fruits and a variety of vegetables with 44 percent of its area under forests it has one of the richest bio-diversity areas in the country. It has abundant minor forest produce like Tendu leaves, Sal seed, etc. Medicinal plants, bamboo, lac and honey are other potential money earners for the state. Chhattisgarh has embarked on a concerted plan to increase double cropped areas, diversify the cropping pattern and improve incomes from agro-based small-scale enterprises.

Much of this site will be devoted to notes that I have made as I learm about Mr. Tamrakar's business, Chhattisgarth and its ecology, and horticulture as it may relate to the Gardens Group of Rural System

Links

Preliminary Ideas and Suggestions From Giles

February 28, 2005
I try to get a business started here and one part is a tourism group. I think we may be of mutual help as I consider and develop more, and perhaps work to get tours to your area and gardens.

I promote the concept of ranging, a new world for outdoor sports as well as sightseeing and ecotourism. Visiting your clinic, as well as the cultural sites, the jewel mines, your gardens and the forests can make an excellent ecotourism attraction.

My notes on soils, hopefully are directly related to your work, probably not at all related to rice growing.

Daylilly in Giles' yard
I work on a system in the computer, a changing plan for land owners. I call it The Trevey (to honor my 95-year old mother). This document will be supplied to a landowner (here) who wants to develop a plan for their area. The blanks spots that you will see in the document will be filled in by the computer to make it read easily and be site specific. You can cut and paste and sell or give pieces to customers as a special attraction with your plants. There are 200 such documents (yours for free) and I continue to edit and improve them and add more. You may find a good idea in them, especially as you may work with the computer students of your area. I shall correspond further about this if you are interested.

Local daylilly farm (Craig County, Virginia, USA) with small on-site sales center
We need to discuss your customers now and what you want to develop. I imagine up-scale clients and restaurants wanting foods grown in special gardens, free of pesticides, free of human disease germs, and washed with rainwater.

I do not know about earthworms in India. I imagine they can be cultivated and can be used to make good garden soil. We need to discuss that. I have hope of developing alpha earth for gardens. Such "earth" may be a good sale item for you, a medium for your plants that you can demonstrate and sell, and by having different species of earthworms in separate units, can make claims about the differences --- diversification is good for business. Perhaps it can be used in mined land reclamation. I learned that there is much mining there.

My ideas about the gardens are available. I hope some will be useful.

Perhaps there is a publisher there who will print my book called Forest Faunal Systems - it is a book about wildlife management in the forest and it is on the web.You can sell it out of your gardens, perhaps with your native plant cultivars being raised by you for commerce.

We need to discuss reducing wildlife damage to crops. Work with tribals should supply much common sense and old techniques for protecting crops and reducing losses.

I think we need to emphasize reducing loss as much, or more, than increasing production.

My ideas on the total system , Rural System I call it, all (I think) are related to your garden and horticulture interests.

I think we can develop with you computer maps of the entire state, maybe just your area near Bhilai, and then make specific maps of where different plant communities grow best. Each species has its own ecological requirements. If we have most of the major ones in a computer, we can map the places where the plant is likely to be successful. You can then sell these maps or at least give specific advice about growing season, insects, disease zones, and plant stress. Computer students there may be interested in GIS (geographic informations sytems). My students have been very successful in using computer maps (GIS).

Maybe we can discuss species of bamboo (if grown there ) and their uses. What varieties? here the price is high and there are collectors of species. Perhaps we can study an export market for you, at least sharing of possible uses of different species.

I struggle to get this thing, this enterprise, that I call Rural System started. I have taught most of the concepts behind it in a university class in systems ecology and elsewhere, developed computer systems, done research, but learned too late that to get sustained natural resource management it must be done by business and with a profit incentive.. That is why I continue. Perhaps we can join forces, you can make some money and develop your clinic, but maybe by finding helpers and contacts some of the ideas and effects can be felt.

I shall gladly work with you and large land owners who may see the advantages of Rural System and a cooperative, coordinated project among us.

Suggestions

  1. National and regional roblems are well recognized, but we can attack some of them (in boldface letters):
  2. Name the tribes and villages and develop an identity in this Tamrakar Project, at least a rough sketch map that I shall scan and add to the site.
  3. We can work on a tribals' knowledge base - answers to questions about limits - that we can use in computer programs (I'll help construct. Thinking of the questions to ask is most difficult. This needs to be done soon. Knowledge is lost daily.)
  4. If small holding (listed above) is a problem, then we must find incentives for owners to form groups and think of themselves as a conglomerate, a single crop system. ...but with several crops. They may read about some of these ideas in Rural System Tracts but these are simply ideas for improving a profit by thinking of the system of the crop produced, rather than just adding the production of many small areas that grow that crop. The gains are made from sharing hand work, sharing weed prevention and controls, sharing in fertilizer knowledge and soil tests, sharing in fencing, sharing in buying fertilizers, pooling fertilizer sources (e.g., poultry waste), sharing in drying or other processing, benefitting from one export/sales outlet. Renting garden plots may be a strategy to increase area size. Area may not be the issue. Green house work allows greater plant density or layers, thus greater production per unit area. We need to discuss and design a managed group of many small plastic-covered greenhouses, some for hydroponics. "Area" is a word, as others, that can capture and stop your thought.
  5. Not advocating one crop, we need to diversify - 3 crops/products to start in one area. Nitrogen is short world around so I think first of some legume, then interplanting it with another crop, perhaps a tuber and a grain. I next think of geese (for weeding the crop rows) and rabbits in pens for food, consuming plants, and for their fertilizer for the planted crops or as input to an earthworm-soil system (AlphaEarth) for raised seasonal house-flowers (that are likely to be highly favored by people from India) for local sales or selective exports to markets in other countries where people from India have settled.
  6. Buyers of produce want to make few bids and purchases to reduce their costs. We can attack the post harvest problem listed above by developing an e-Catalog, or an electronic kiosk which will have information regarding prices for agri-produce in various mandis of your region (or others later). The e-Catalog serves farmers in neighbouring villages. A trained person operates the catalog and accepts money via the Internet for quantities of produce that are available and described. The e-Catalog is the middle person and it receives a small portion of the actual sale. No sale, no gain to the farmer or the e-Catalog. The e-Catalog become the new marketplace. Of course farmers may sell their wares in any way that they like. The procedure allows anyone with a computer, worldwide, to buy "across the electronic book" the 10, 100, or 10,000 flowers offered. The price reflects the market, and it may change as supplies and quality decline...and these are reflected in the dynamic catalog. There may be a warehouse needed for each clutch of villages.
  7. Consider cooperative arrangements with a colleague (perhaps landscaping or flower arranging) so that sales or materials or services by either of you contribute a percentage to the other (a commission).

Other Resources:
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You are encouraged to assist with and participate in this growing effort to develop a working part of Rural System or to improve the horticultural and other natural and agricultural resources of this important part of India. Send an email to Bob Giles, R. H. Giles, Jr.

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Last revision: March 3, 2005