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West Bengal: Fighting soil salinity: Land shaping techniques benefit Sundarban farmers by Dhruba Das Gupta June 11,2019   |  Source: The Wire

When Panchanan shifted from Dakshin Mokamberia to Motgora village in Basanti block more than five years ago, about 70% of villagers migrated regularly because of low farm productivity. Farmers mostly grew one crop a year; when land was left fallow after kharif harvest, salinity set in. The Sundarbans in the Gangetic delta is known for its soil salinity, which is aggravated by prolonged water-logging during monsoons. The acidic sulfate soil of the region created problems of nutrient management and overall soil management too. Lack of freshwater for irrigation was also becoming a problem in the rabi season, and the villagers did not wish to continue farming.

Today Panchanan grows cucumber, yard-long beans, bitter gourd, cauliflower, tomatoes and winter rice in his father’s land that measures a little over two acres. He also has fish in his farm pond and earns about Rs 2 lakh in profits in both kharif and rabi seasons for his family of seven. Migration in the area has decreased by about 80%. While the land shaping interventions brought down salinity, improved productivity and increased farm incomes, farmers are perplexed without continued consultation from local agricultural experts on overcoming new problems.

Post-cyclone remediation

In 2009, Cyclone Aila left behind a

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