During our transect walk through Chataniha, a village in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh, Ramkali and Munni explained how their lands were losing topsoil due to ploughing and subsequent rain. The same issue was raised by many other villagers such as Budhni, Sugmanthy and Bitty Panika in the meeting held after the walk.
We saw rocky barren lands everywhere as we walked through the village. When we asked villagers in the meeting, “khet ki mitti kaha gaye?” (where did the topsoil go?), Munni, with her usual sense of humour replied, “meri khet ki mitti toh Shanti didi ke paas hain”(soil from my land went to Shanti’s land). Munni’s land is on the upper side of the hillock. Every year her family members plough the land to grow food crops, but with rain all the loose topsoil gets washed away and deposited in the valley, where Shanti has her land.
Several such discussions on soil erosion, enhancing soil fertility and intensifying crop production took place in Chataniha when villagers joined the Adaptive Skilling through Action Research (ASAR) programme, a joint research initiative of Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN), the Azim Premji University (APU) and the village community from three villages in Central India.