Mizoram, a mountainous state in far north east India. The people in this area are predominantly Christian.
Baptist Church of Mizoram, Relief and Development Department, an agency with extensive experience in teaching farming techniques for sloping land.
The Mizo people live under the constant threat of soil erosion and landslides. This is due to the sloping terrain, poor farming methods and the popular practice of clearing land from the surrounding forests for farms. The area is also prone to malaria outbreaks and people struggle to provide for their families and stay healthy.
The project has been working with local people to help them improve their quality of life by:
- providing training in SALT (Sloping Agricultural Land Technology), which involves planting a variety of crops in alternating rows to prevent erosion. Rows might include permanent producing plants (for example, fruit trees), annual crops (for example cereals) and cash crops (like chillies and potatoes). This is combined with techniques that return nutrients and moisture to the soil. Successful implementation of SALT leads to increased yields which generate income and ensures the long-term sustainability of the farm.
- providing training in raising small scale livestock, like poultry or pigs, and kitchen gardening to improve the variety of family foods.
- setting up malaria clinics where people can be tested and treated for malaria.
Hmingmawia's farm is showing others what can be achieved using SALT farming.
Clinging to the hillsides, families in Mizoram are under the threat of being washed away every time it rains. People lose crops and homes – and sometimes even lives – to erosion and landslides.
But this story is changing. Hmingmawia, whose name means "The name of the Lord is beautiful", saved 15,000 rupees (around $400) to buy a block of land. Then he attended training through the Mizoram Baptist Church in Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT, for short!). He has now been 'SALT farming' for ten years and his life has been completely transformed.
Every year he produces up to 50,000 rupees worth of vegetables and fruit from his block of land. With this regular income he has built a home for his family, and can pay for his children’s education. He also helps others through their personal struggles by giving them work on his farm, and as a committed Christian he contributes significantly to his local church.
Hmingmawia's farm is being used to show others what can be achieved if people are willing to change their century old farming techniques. This story is being echoed across the hillsides of Mizoram and more and more lives are being transformed.