India: Women growers looking to save environment, conserve water

The Women’s Alliance of Ladakh, while making efforts to protect Ladakh’s environment and preserving its culture, is persuading farmers of the cold desert to practice organic farming and traditional water harvesting as farmers face water scarcity because of low snowfall in recent years.

“It seems water is gradually vanishing from this place. We need to be prepared for water-related challenges ahead,” said 60-year-old Tsering Chondol, President of Women’s Alliance of Ladakh, which counts some 4,000 women in 114 villages of Ladakh as members.

The Indus River is far from the farmlands of Leh and too far below – at the bottom of steep gorges – for the farmers to rely on its water, though a few farmers living on its banks manage to lift water from it with support provided by the Leh agriculture department. Tsering Motup of Phey village on the bank of Indus is one of those fortunate farmers.

He has over three acres of land, which he irrigates by just turning on the switch. “Most of this land was fallow, which I converted into productive land after taking cultivable soil from a far off place. But it was possible only when I could lift the water from the Indus, thanks to the subsidy from the agriculture department,” said Motup.

He said that he earns a profit of around Rs 300,000 every year by growing vegetables like spinach, tomato, cabbage and potato. “The greenhouses provided by the agriculture department help me grow vegetables in winter months as well,” he said.

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