Mumbai, April 7, 2023: Unlocking multiple climate and developmental opportunities for local communities in Gadchiroli, WRI India has partnered with Gadchiroli District Administration, Government of Maharashtra on April 6, 2023 by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for collaborative implementation of landscape restoration and sustainable and regenerative agriculture in Gadchiroli district. This partnership is geared towards restoring forests, common land and agricultural land in the district through sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices and forest-based interventions that can help build resilience of local communities. Land restoration can also contribute towards ensuring food and nutrition security for local people as well as flow of multiple ecosystem services such as improving soil health, carbon sequestration and enhance biodiversity conservation.
Shri. Sanjay Meena, Collector & District Magistrate, District Gadchiroli, Government of Maharashtra, said that “our partnership for landscape level sustainable and regenerative agriculture and other interventions in six pilot villages can provide significant learnings for upscaling farmer-led land restoration in the district”. With 70% of its land under forest cover, Gadchiroli’s local communities including 38.7% as tribal population significantly depend upon non-timber forest products and agriculture for their sustenance (Census, 2011). Gadchiroli’s people and land both are highly vulnerable to increased climate impacts as more than 2,10,000 ha, which is almost 75% of the district’s cultivable land, is under rainfed agriculture. WRI India’s upcoming findings show that Gadchiroli district offers a significant potential for land restoration through interventions such as crop diversification, nutri-gardens, bamboo plantations etc. This can directly improve livelihoods for farmers as well as forest dependent population by diversifying income sources and generating employment opportunities.
Highlighting the significance of this partnership, Dr. Ruchika Singh, Director, Sustainable Landscapes and Restoration, World Resources Institute India, said that “leveraging public funds from central and state government schemes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, watershed funds for community-led land restoration is essential. The convergence of public funds can support the transition towards sustainable and regenerative agriculture, common lands, and forest restoration – showcasing a pathway that can support India’s efforts towards achieving its various climate commitments, including nationally determined contributions in the Paris Climate Agreement, Bonn Challenge, Land Degradation Neutrality targets, the Net Zero commitment, and Sustainable Development Goals”. WRI India has identified key sustainable and regenerative agriculture and forest-based interventions using adapted Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology, a landscape approach which evaluated bio-physical and socio-economic feasibilities in the region.
WRI India and AAA’s partnership with Gadchiroli District Administration will help develop a pathway for implementing landscape restoration interventions in the district starting with a pilot intervention at farm, cluster and landscape levels in select villages. Dr Satish Gogulwar, Director, AAA, also emphasized, “This partnership will play a significant role in upliftment of tribal communities in Gadchiroli, as various sustainable and regenerative agriculture and forestry interventions under this landscape restoration initiative will improve their incomes and living standards”. The key interventions identified for landscape restoration in Gadchiroli include:
· Agricultural interventions (such as crop diversification, agri-horti-forestry, nutri-gardens, water-efficient paddy cultivation and integrated pest and nutrient management)
· Forestry interventions (such as mixed species plantations, bamboo plantations and silvi-pasture development through assisted natural regeneration)
· Water conservation activities, and
· Cross-cutting interventions aimed at creating forward and backward linkages for local communities.
Dr. Jayahari KM, India Country Coordinator, Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) India, said, “FOLU India is on its endeavor to support India’s ambition in largescale transformation of agriculture natural farming through, creation of replicable and scalable models of transformation to sustainable and regenerative agriculture. Gadchiroli landscape is one of the models in which the farmer led transformations are being piloted. The immense support from the Gadchiroli district administration to this effort indeed, is a crucial factor in successfully establishing the model in one of the aspirational districts in India creating a win-win situation for nature and farmers”.