‘Cauvery Calling’ is a movement to revitalize the southern Indian river Cauvery, which has faced severe depletion of over 40% in the past decades. In this game-changing initiative, we intend to facilitate the planting of 242 crore trees in the river’s basin by reaching out to more than 50 lakh farmers to make a shift from crop cultivation to perennial Agro-forestry.
Bringing one-third of the Cauvery Basin under tree cover will result in the triple-benefit of:
With our studies and our substantial experience in Tamil Nadu, it is estimated that shifting to agroforestry will affect a 3-8 fold increase in farmer incomes in 5-7 years. The successful implementation of the project will bring about a Revolution in Rural Economy.
This is based on the Rally for Rivers Draft Policy Recommendations for river revitalization, which was formulated after consultation with various experts from diverse fields relating to forestry, soil, agriculture, governance, finance, corporate, education and development. Today, after much deliberation and science, World Communities are also arriving at the understanding that massive afforestation is the single-most effective solution to our present air, soil and water situations. The recent ETH Zurich report, UNEP directives for planting of a Trillion Trees and the Bonn Challenge all point to the same science and solution.
The Science: India’s rivers are essentially rainfed. Rainfall enters rivers and streams through two main mechanisms: surface flow over land and through underground flow. Rain seeps into soil and becomes groundwater, which then gradually flows underground and enters streams, rivers etc. Trees helps rain seep into soil by creating a network of well-connected, minuscule channels in the soil. Additionally, plant debris helps soil become porous. Once water is absorbed by soil, just as rainwater percolates downward, water can percolate horizontally as well. This underground “water flow” feeds water into streams and rivers.
The basic science projects that 10,000 trees retain 37.85 million litres of water per year. By extrapolation, 242 crore trees will retain 324 TMC of water per year, which is about 41% of the Cauvery’s annual flow.
The project kicked off in July 2019, with public awareness vehicles setting off to reach out to thousands of villages in 28 districts in the Cauvery Basin across Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, encouraging farmers to shift in part to perennial Agro-forestry to revitalize Cauvery. In September 2019, Sadhguru will ride from Cauvery’s source at Talakaveri to the ocean at Thiruvarur, raising awareness and interacting with farmers. A combination of direct on-ground events, mass media and social media campaigns will be run. The Agroforestry drive will continue over 12 years.
The contribution of Rs 42 per sapling will be used to fund sapling development, farmer engagement, and the underlying project development. The project affiliated nurseries will develop high quality saplings to support the farmers. Among the many other activities, the project will undertake to build resources to develop and disseminate the science and technology of Agroforestry, create awareness about its benefits among farmers in the Cauvery Basin, assist the farming community to make the shift, engage with government agencies to bring about needed policy redirection and ensure the sustained momentum of the endeavour.
Typically, on one hectare we can plant about 1500 trees.
The governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as well as the Central Government will be involved in a series of minor but significant policy changes to enable and ease agroforestry for farmers.
Among the key policy changes that are needed to facilitate this change are:
The governments are also expected to support farmers by offering incentives for the first four years after plantation.
Water crisis is threatening the entire country. Cauvery Calling will establish a demonstrable solution, which can then be replicated across river basins in India and across the planet in similar water- and soil-distressed regions.
As a people, it will be unconscionable on our part to expect our farmer, who is already struggling, to bear the sole responsibility to pull off this mammoth feat. If we expect them to support the larger good by making this life-altering change, then it is up to us, as a people, to extend our full support and cooperation.
Agroforestry is a mode of agriculture in which tree plantation is adopted as a full-fledged system or grown in conjunction with other agricultural crops.
A) Environmental benefits
B) Economic benefits
C) Social benefits
The farmer will need healthy saplings from a nursery, and also incentives from the government in the first few years of shifting to agroforestry. Certain policy decisions and redirections from the Government will go a long way in facilitating the farmer to make this shift. The Cauvery Calling project will undertake to facilitate these aspects.
‘Ensuring environmental sustainability’, and ‘employment enhancing vocational skills’, and ‘social business projects’ are some of the key criteria listed under the government’s CSR guidelines. All the activities under Cauvery Calling fall into all these categories.
Utilization certificates will be only be provided above a threshold level of funding.