Almost a half of the agricultural lands in possession by the indigenous people lies fallow in the Reserve. The contributing factors to name a few are – lack of agricultural credit, high risk of wildlife raids and inadequate marketing support for traditional varieties and uncertain monsoons. This programme has been encouraging indigenous people to cultivate traditional millet varieties that are largely drought resistant while at the same time make an important contribution to the family nutrition.
The farmers’ groups offer members loans for land clearing, ploughing, seed purchase as well as purchase of fencing and temporary housing material. Seed banks located in each area offer available seed to be returned in kind.
During the year, millet and other traditional crop cultivation by 95 farmers was supported in over a total of about 144 acres. of land. The support was in the form of provision of seeds as well loans towards ploughing expenses. 48 varieties of seeds including those of finger millet, foxtail millet, little millet, horse gram, pigeon pea were procured from farmers and made available to the area level seed banks. Farmers also carried some of these seeds to a seed exchange programme organized by the Nilgiri Natural History Society in order to highlight the importance of communities as stewards of a critical agricultural gene pools.
Ten coffee farmers were helped to prepare land, pitting, planting, trenching for 7000 coffee seedlings under the coffee development programme.
5. vermi –compost units (Pre fabricated-HDPE vermin-compost bin) were supplied and installed in Aracode, Kilcoupe and a three day training was conducted for five farmers.
The other uses which farmers’ groups used their revolving fund for include loans for buying of a coffee pulper by the Dhoopamara Farmers’ Group, purchase of poultry by the Melseemai Farmers’ group and cultivation of about 60 cents of jointly owned land by the Nedungayam Farmers’ Group.