The people of Kikruma village protect the forests of the mountains. They collect water in ponds on the slopes below it and irrigate the paddy fields at the foot of the mountains
Ground Report | New Delhi: In the Kikruma village of Nagaland, a system called Zabo is used for irrigation. Zabo means to collect water in the pond. According to the Indian Journal of Hill Farming, it is an indigenous system that combines forestry, farming and animal husbandry. In this, soil erosion is controlled and the development management and environmental protection of water resources are taken care of.
Kikruma is situated at an altitude of 1,270 meters, 13 km from Phutsero town in Phek district of Nagaland. The average annual rainfall in Futsero village is 1,613 mm, but this village receives very little rainfall. This village is in the form of a flat plain at the height of the mountain. It is bounded by the Sedju River in the south and the Khoja River in the north. These are seasonal rivers and their water is used to irrigate terraced fields.
The percentage of terraced cultivation here is very less. Out of the total 915 hectares of agricultural land, 20 hectares is cultivated by water harvesting, 26 hectares is cultivated with rainwater and 858 hectares is under Jhum cultivation. Terraced fields are irrigated with water from local springs, natural springs and ponds.
The fields in this village are situated at a high altitude. There is very little rainfall here. The biggest problem is the supply of drinking water. Therefore the people of the village collect water in the pond for irrigation and drinking of the animals. The water collected in this way is also used occasionally for drinking.
These ponds dry up in March and April and are repaired during this time. The people of Kikruma village protect the forests of the mountains. They collect water in ponds on the slopes below it and irrigate the paddy fields at the foot of the mountains. There are also pastures on the foothills.
The different parts of the Zabo system are as follows:
1. Forest land: Trees and plants are grown in the water holding area of 1.5 hectares or more above the ponds. This area contributes to water storage during monsoon. The slope of the catchment area is usually quite steep.
2. Water Harvesting System: Ponds are dug and earthen dams are made to store water below the water harvesting area. The size of the pond is usually 24 meters long, 10 meters wide and two meters deep. In many places, small ponds are made so that the soil does not overflow and make the big pond shallow. The entire system usually takes up 0.2 hectares of land. The pits created to hold the soil that have been washed away by rain are cleaned once a year. While making a pond, its bottom is made solid, so that the leakage of water can be reduced.
3. Enclosures: A fence of bamboo or twigs is made to keep the animals. This fence built under the pond is monitored by a group of farmers in turn. Local farmers usually have buffaloes and 20 to 30 buffaloes are kept in a fence. This place is washed by rain water and this water flows and gets absorbed in the paddy fields as manure. When the water of the pond rises and comes out, it comes through the fence and the natural manure reaches the fields below.
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4. Agricultural Land: Under the ponds there are terraced paddy fields. The size of these farms varies from 0.2 to 0.5 hectares. Generally green manure made from Bhidur and Mekhunu leaves, cow dung and water from cattle ranches are used for manure in paddy fields. To increase the fertility of the soil, farmers use Azolla wherever natural water sources are available. During wet plowing, the entire field is churned. Apart from cattle, sticks are also used for this, so that the leakage of water can be stopped.
In terraced fields, paddy husks are used to stop the seepage of water from the dam built across the slope. Buffaloes are mainly engaged for plowing. Here only one crop of paddy, Tanakemuga is grown. It takes 180 days for the crop to be ready. 60 kg seed is sown per hectare and planting is done in June. In terraced fields, pond cultivation is done twice. Here the yield per hectare of paddy is three to four tonnes. Most of the farmers do fish farming along with paddy cultivation and also catch 50 to 60 kg of fish per hectare.
According to a report in the Indian Journal of Hill Farming, “For making terraced fields, forests are cut and set on fire. The width of terraced fields depends on the nature of the slope. First the top soil is removed and kept aside. The upper surface of the land is dug up and deposited with the help of logs and the dam is constructed.
Stones are deposited on the side. Then the soil is tamped and made to sit. Then the soil with the topmost surface laid on the side is spread over the top. Gray stones are also put on the side. Green manure plants are also planted in the soil. Lentils, beans, potatoes, in the first year.
Water crisis in Kikruma village
Due to less rainfall in Kikruma village, there is a water crisis. Since water is scarce, strict rules apply to its use in irrigation. There are two rivers near the village, but only the water from the Sedju River is used for irrigation. Since it is a seasonal river, there is always a shortage of water. Therefore, the distribution of water is decided in advance.
If a person has made arrangements to drain water by erecting a barrier in any part of the river, then no other person can erect the obstruction in the river immediately above it. The next person is allowed to build the barrier at least two furlongs above the first barrier. However, there is no restriction to build a barrier on the river below the first barrier.
Rain water flowing from the hills of the forest as soon as the monsoon rains begin or even small puddles from residential areas act as catchment areas. Through gravity flow and man-made channels, rainwater is were diverted to harvesting ponds. Water channels are maintained at suitable locations and small bamboo check dams are made at intervals to control soil erosion.
In addition, silt retention Ponds or small ponds are formed at several points before the runoff allowed to accumulate in water harvesting structures. The accumulated rainwater is stored in silt retention tanks for two or three days before being shifted to the main water harvesting ponds. Water is then released from the pond for irrigation by opening or cutting an outlet water pond base using bamboo pipes to allow water to flow from one field to another. To reduce the water filter, there are also water channels hammering or banging its base.