Agro-education – A unique platform to create awareness and sensitisation among students
Awareness generation towards farming practices, importance of organic farming and sensitisation towards environmental degradation among school children was the objective behind the day long visit for more than 25 students and teachers from 5 schools in Nashik. The group had been invited to an agricultural farm in the Makhmalabad area which, after discussions with the stakeholders and owing to its intensive grape production and rapid urbanisation, had been chosen as the pilot project implementation area.
On 13 April 2014, as a part of the four pilot projects planned for the city of Nashik under the project ‘Operationalization of Nexus approaches in Nashik city’, and facilitated by the professors of KK Wagh Agricultural and Engineering College, a group of students, in the age-group 12-14, were taken to a local farm spread within 87 acres with more than 15 varieties of mangoes, cashew nuts and other fruits. The students witnessed various types of water conservation features like terracing, bunding and their specific usage in the farm; at the organic farming site they had a chance to know more about the practical and on-field usage of mulching, organic fertilizers and insect trappers.
The execution of a second pilot project - Agricultural Pump Set Efficiency Performance Evaluation – has also started in March, with an external auditor performing auditing of selected agricultural pumps. Based on the results of his evaluation, further steps will be taken to enhance pump efficiency. The pilot responds to the identified needs for improving agriculture pump efficiency, due to the fact that Nashik is an agro-intensive city, and its farms consume large amounts of pumped water (surface water as well as groundwater).
The mapping and survey of biogas potential, the third pilot in the area, has also been completed; the mapping will be followed by the development of potential options to recover the non-functional biogas plant, reduce dependence on conventional sources of energy like Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) and on usage of cow-dung and wood for cooking purposes.
Nashik has expanded at a rapid rate in last few years. Large agricultural land on the outskirts of the city has been sold to builders, thus reducing agricultural land available for food production. Moreover, not all land that has been bought is put to use right away, resulting in large fallow land that can be seen all over the city. Considering the agricultural importance of Nashik, it was therefore proposed - under the project - to bring the fallow/scrub land into urban and peri-urban agriculture practices, thus reducing energy use in irrigation by reviving agriculture in the immediate environs of the city, treating the wastewater from residential areas to be used as ferti-irrigation, and in turn reducing demand of chemical fertilisers as well, in an integrated approach that involves the municipal departments as well as the community and individual citizens. The four pilot projects tend to feed into the larger goal of development plans for the entire city.
The relevance of the project was confirmed by the fact that former commissioner Sanjay Khandare represented his city in the 7th World Urban Forum at Medellin, Columbia and gave a presentation on the pilot project activities for the project "Operationalization of Nexus approaches in Nashik city" being carried out in the city. The presentation took place at the networking event “Urban NEXUS: strengthening inter-sectoral linkages and crossing municipal boundaries for integrated resource-efficiency”, organised by GIZ and ICLEI.
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Agro-tourism to bring forward the Nexus approach in Nashik
The GIZ Eschborn funded 'Operationalization of Nexus Approaches in Nashik city' project is making concrete progress by taking activities on ground and preparing the base for successful implementation of nexus approaches in the city.
The third city visit to Nashik aimed towards having a one-to-one interaction with different identified stakeholders to discuss about various issues like resource constraints, knowing more about local patterns by making field visits, identifying possible entry points for urban nexus and conducting the first stakeholder meeting so as to finalise the pilot project area along with the pilot project activities.
The city visit helped in better understanding the local scenario of the city, to know better all the identified stakeholders and the role they play in the development of Nashik city. Following the field visits to dams and water plants and the meetings with various departments of the Nashik Municipal Corporation, a stakeholder meeting was conducted on 7 February 2014, which gathered more than 30 stakeholders from different departments who interacted with each other and discussed the best possible pilot project options to advance the nexus approach along with Mr. Adrian Atkinson, External Consultant, GIZ and ICLEI South Asia staff.
After discussing with the stakeholders, Makhmalabad (ward number 6) was chosen as the pilot area because of the rapid pace of urbanisation the area is going through. After looking into the baseline information that was gathered during the field visit and brainstorming with stakeholders, it was decided that the pilot project would include the following four activities:
Besides these short term initiatives, which will be implemented over a period of three months, it was also decided to look into the fallow land available in the city and various options enabling it to be utilised for urban farming, in consultation with the town planning department. The various methods that will help in developing the fallow land for agricultural practices will include policy measure like tax incentives etc.
Nashik all set to kick-start the Urban Nexus Pilot Project
The city of Nashik in Maharashtra has been chosen as the Indian city to undertake the pilot project activities under the Urban Nexus project by ICLEI South Asia in discussion with GIZ India. The first set of meetings were held in Nashik on 23 and 24 December 2013, together with representatives from Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) and other stakeholders such as the Irrigation Department, Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd., the staff of K K Wagh College of Agriculture and Engineering and local NGO’s who are working in the field of water, energy and agriculture. Funded by GIZ Eschborn, the pilot project aims to showcase the benefit of an urban nexus approach through the identification of inter linkages between the water, energy and food sectors. The pilot activity will showcase some of the challenges faced by these sectors and the interdependencies among them.
Nashik, the third largest city in Maharashtra and one of the fastest growing in India, is well-known for its vineyards and grape production. Due to this agricultural profile and the water- and energy-intensity of the winemaking process, ICLEI South Asia has chosen to focus on the Water/Energy/Food nexus in Nashik. ICLEI South Asia, along with the stakeholder group comprising of officials from NMC, local NGOs, academia and farmers, will work towards encouraging the adoption of Nexus initiatives and support the implementation of pilot activities through groundwork, capacity building among Local government authorities and departments and providing policy recommendations.
In the next months, meetings and interviews with all the concerned departments and stakeholders will be conducted. An international expert in Nexus is planning to visit Nashik in February to conceptualize the pilot project activities.