206894 Arid Horticulture units in the Thar Desert, India : Enhancing nutritional status

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 9:10 AM

Prakash Tyagi, MD , Head Office, GRAVIS, Jodhpur, India
Thar Desert of India is among most barren landscapes on earth, receiving 100 to 200 millimetres rain a year and often experiencing prolonged droughts. Lack of rain poses great challenges to agricultural production and causes food shortage. This often results into severe malnutrition and consequent health impacts. A large number of people living in the region, especially women, children and elderly, are severely undernourished and suffer with anaemia, vitamin deficiencies and hypoproteinemia. Despite these limitations, it is the most populated desert in the world with nearly 23 million people.

GRAVIS, an NGO based in Thar, has been working for integrated development of rural communities. Enhancing food security is an important area of GRAVIS interventions. The organization has developed the concept of Arid Horticulture Units for the poorest and most vulnerable households. These units are provided with 16 to 24 saplings of desert-friendly plants such as plum, lemon, pomegranate and guava. Waste water after the domestic use is used to water the plant. To provide continuos moisture, pitcher irrigation technique is used. To protect from pests, organic manure and pesticides are used. The beneficiary families are trained on care of plants by GRAVISD resource team. Within three years time, the plants start providing yield. Over last 10 years, over 1,800 such units benefiting over 8,000 people. The activity has improved the nutritional status of the community living in the region. Surplus fruits are also being sold in the markets providing additional income. GRAVIS now looks forward to scale up this project.

Learning Objectives:
Describe arid horticulture units and their impact on families in the Thar desert of India Discuss GRAVIS'activities to address food security and nutrition and consider ideas for future interventions.

Keywords: Food Security, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am directly involved with the project as the Director of the implementing organization.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.