Stop Erosion to Increase The Fertility of the Land


Naraena is an agricultor.  He gets dressed completely in white and wears a scarf on his head.  He has been working  on the field for years punished by the sun rays, the high temperatures, and the low fertility of his land.  But this situation seems to be changing.

In the Anantapur district, where population lives from agriculture, only 51% of the total territory is cultivable.  The fields are stony and sandy due to erosion caused by the strong winds.  Erosion also causes fertile soil depth to be only 30 centimeters, when the recommended depth is 150 cm.  These factors provoque that crops fertility and performance in the region to be very low if they are compared with the rest of Andhra Pradesh.  To combat this serious problem the Vicente Ferrer Foundation (VFF) works along the agricultors to build retention walls to fight this natural challenge.

The retention wall is very similar to a dam, but instead of water it contains soil.  The objective is to contained weathered soil and to avoid losing it down the slopes, where the land is not cultivable.  This infrastructure provoques that soil sediments form into terraces, retaining the organic matter and the nutrients.  During the two months of monsoon rain, there are torrents that drag down the first layer of soil, the most fertile one, where all the nutrients are for the crops.  With the construction of the dams, land cracks and channels that are hard to cultivate are prevented


Retention walls increase soil fertility

 In Hanupuram, the Naraena town, there are 36 retention walls already built that are producing fruits.  land erosion has been decreased, and the fertility through nutrients accumulation and depth increase has improved.  Naraena has seen cultivable hectares grow.  This way, the harvest this year has been the largest.

"The land was not cultivable, it was full of stones.  We have had really hard years where we didn't have money.  But in two years, after the construction of the wall, I passed from working six acres to nine acres.  And on top of that, the depth of fertile soil has increased 2 centimeters!", says Naraena in the middle of his black lands.  "The chickpeas harvest has been more than double than last year's.  Before I used to get three sacks per acre.  Now I harvest 5 sacks per each one" affirms satisfied. 

Like many other projects from the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, Naraena collaborated in the construction of the wall.  All the people that receive from a VFF program must participate in it in order to get it completed.  They are responsible of the construction - along with VFF personnel- of the posterior care, and also of the 30% of the total cost of the wall.  This way they are made participants of the change.

"His little brother didn't ask for the construction of a wall on his land.  Now he regrets it.  "He is seeing the difference between his land and mine.  He has decided to request help from the Foundation so he can create the wall", says Naraena. 

"Another positive aspect is that when you have more land, my children will be able to inherit more than what I had just 2 years ago", says.  Life continues to be difficult but it's giving signals of improvement.  There is hope in a process that seemed inevitable.  


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Anne Ferrer, who has been working as a social worker in rural parts of Andhra Pradesh, received the Jamnalal Bajaj Award 2015 for her contribution in the field of development and welfare of Women and Children in India.
The telephone rings. It is the 1,098 time the VFF staff in India answer the urgent needs of the community using the anonymous help line. 24 hours, 7 days a week urgent calls of a wide variety come in and much needed support is given immediately.