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Participatory and sustainable watershed management and the introduction of pigeonpea are two striking examples of ICRISAT's research that could help the rural population of the young and mountainous State of Uttarakhand to combat widespread land erosion, and improve family nutrition and livelihoods.

61.4% - Share of territory under forests in Uttarakhand

45% - Part of the workforce involved in agriculture in Uttarakhand

90.8% - Share of holdings of less than  2 hectares n Uttarakhand

100,000 ha - Uttarakhand's target for area to be covered under pigeonpea by  2016 


General context

Formed in 2000 out of Northern Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand is largely a hilly State, surrounded by China in the north, Himachal Pradesh in the northwest, Nepal in the east and Uttar Pradesh on the south. The state is rich in natural resources, especially water, biodiversity and forests, which shapes its economy.

In recent years, Uttarakhand's growth rate has been higher than the Indian average (12% per year against 8 during 2005-2013). The last census (2011) revealed migration from all hilly districts, reflecting a lack of livelihood opportunities as well as lack of modern infrastructure. Many settlements are exposed to severe land erosion and land slide risks.

About half the workforce lives on agriculture. The important staple crops include rice, wheat and finger millet (called manduwa locally) and sugarcane. Farmers practice rotation with pulses (black gram, lentil, horse gram) and oilseeds (in particular mustard and rapeseed). Fruit production also takes place in the state. Indigenous cattle, buffalo, goat, poultry, and fisheries are the main husbandries, as well as sericulture.

ICRISAT research in Uttarakhand

Promoting the cultivation of pigeonpea on the sloping lands of Uttarakhand not only helps address the state's pulse deficit, but also fights land erosion and is a good source of income. A short duration improved variety was released in 2007 under the popular name "VL Arhar 1" which has been a success as it is adapted to high altitudes and is three to four times more profitable than paddy and finger millet. This legume crop can also be grown on barren land where no food crop was grown before and as intercropping in orchards. The state has an ambitious target of planting up to 100,000 ha of pigeonpea by 2016. Even earlier duration varieties are currently being tested.

Finger millet, the second kharif crop after rice, is grown between 600 and 2,200 m altitude. Some hybrids have been developed to enhance its nutritional qualities (rich in calcium, iron and protein).

Participatory sustainable watershed management is crucial to fight the considerable soil erosion in hilly districts, as well as to increase agricultural productivity through a more diverse cropping system and soil and water conservation activities. A consortium approach can help build the capacity of farmers and other watershed stakeholders in natural resource management. A Critical assessment of ICT tools like Agropedia reveals the need to customize useful content in a more accessible way for farmers.

Pigeonpea can be grown as a perennial crop on sloping lands to combat landslides.

Uttarakhand has the ambitious target to grow 100,000 ha of pigeonpea by 2016 to address the important pulse deficit.

Finger millet grown on about 125,000 ha is an important food crop in hilly areas. Finger millet chapattis (flat bread) are nutritious, digestible, and rich in calcium.