Reaping the Benefits of Soil Conservation
You can hardly find a better advocate for soil conservation and erosion control than Mr. Nang. He’s a leader in one of local partner KMSS’s community-driven Innovation Groups and plants his sloping land with methods tried and found true by local farmers.
The program, whose apt subtitle is “Restoring Productivity through Soil Conservation,” encourages Innovation Groups like Nang’s to identify, test, access and adapt erosion control practices that meet their own criteria for addressing their farming challenges.
He’d noticed that erosion tended to decrease soil fertility and resulted in lower yields. The soil on his farm is reddish-brown and sticky, definitely not ideal, so he began looking for ways to get a handle both on erosion and improving his soil. That’s why he joined the Innovation Group. He’s been planting Tephrosia, a kind of nitrogen-fixing pea, and setting hedgerows of Leucaena across his slopes to hold the dirt in place. This fast-growing shrub also serves as green manure and firewood, and both the Tephrosia and Leucaena can be used as fodder.
“Three years ago, I started terracing my fields with Leucaena to stop my soil – and crops – from sliding downhill,” he says. “I kept encouraging other farmers to do it, too, but even though they’ve got the same issues, they didn’t think hedgerows would improve soil fertility much. Now that I’m reaping the benefits, they can see the value of it.”
Nang is committed to mobilizing other farmers to apply these and other solutions on their own land. As he puts it, “I believe all farmers in my community will do soil conservation practices one day as they become aware of the benefits. As for myself, I have strong confidence that I will get more rewards in the near future from what I’ve put in place so far.”
Myanmar Tedim Program
Led by Catholic Relief Services and Karuna Mission Social Solidarity (KMSS)