Comparative economic analysis of conservation agricultural practices in Tentuli Village, India
During this time of environmental change, the management of natural resources may be our wisest pursuit; specifically, where it relates to international agricultural development. This research has studied the potential for agricultural development in the tribal villages of Kendujhar, one of the poorest districts in the East Indian state of Odisha. With a population primarily consisting of smallholder farming systems characterized by poor soil fertility and moisture retention, limited irrigation, and susceptibility to erosion, agricultural productivity in this region has been adversely impacted. As such, this study’s research evaluates the impact of conservation agriculture (CA) practices in these villages. This dynamic approach of CA focuses on two interventions: minimum tillage and intercropping. Primary data collection through face-to-face interviews was completed to establish agricultural household baselines in the district, while a field experiment was used to assess the productivity of the two CA practices. Maize/cowpea intercropping and minimum tillage treatments were established to determine differences in yields and labor requirements. The results showed that with a maize/cowpea intercrop, the greatest returns occur when we consider labor without the opportunity for off-farm employment. On the other hand, if labor has opportunity for off-farm employment, it is more economical to work off-farm; however, this applies primarily to young male household members who have greater opportunity for employment. The implications for gender, in terms of labor, are such that with CA, male labor reduces while female labor increases. Based on the results, there are multiple recommendations for agribusiness and policy-makers: (1) assist farmers with input and seed subsidies and access to credit for CA adoption to enhance yields, increase returns, and improve food security; (2) increase extension efforts for farmer education on the benefits of CA; and (3) train farmers on the benefits of high-yielding commercial seeds and improved farming practices.