Research Paper

IBBN Launches Unique Project to Map Floral Bioresources in Byrkuru Panchayat, Kolar

The India Biochar and Bioresources Network (IBBN) has started a unique project to map floral bioresources in Byrkuru Panchayat, Kolar. The project involves Panchayat members, experts, village elders and young people in villages to survey cropped land, fallow land, commons, forests, and wetlands to identify the various species of crops and uncultivated plants, trees, and other bioresources such as agricultural waste, livestock manure, and organic matter. The IBBN is committed to promoting the use of Biochar and bioresources in India, and this project will open up new avenues for a systemic change in making Panchayats, who administer every square inch of land in rural India (except forests and industries), dynamic repositories, planners, conservators and traders of local bioresource for purposes of bio-inputs, biochar, seeds, ecosystem restoration, and medicinal uses. The project is an innovative approach to mapping floral bioresources and demonstrates the power of community involvement in sustainable development.

Figure 1. Byrkuru Panchayat is in Mulbagal Taluk of Kolar District. Kolar district is in the Eastern dry agro climatic Zone. It It experiences a semi-arid climate, characterized by typical monsoon tropical weather with hot summers and mild winters with an average annual rainfall of 74MM.
Figure 2 and 3. Mapping Bioresources at a Byrkuru wetlands and Gundutopu “commons land”. The ecosystem is rich with beneficial plants are trees.

The project will document the traditional knowledge of farmers and group meetings are being held to understand how they use crop residues and uncultivated vegetation. The aim of the survey is to influence panchayats to inventory bioresources, monetize them, use them sustainably, create equitable access to all residents, and develop biodiversity and biomass for ecology and agricultural purposes.

Another objective is to document and bring back forgotten local practices to make Panchayats and farmers understand the importance of floral bioresources in maintaining sustainable ecosystems. The project has the potential to be scaled across the country to more than 250000 Panchayats representing 60% of India’s population with significant potentials for better achievements of sustainable development goals through conservation, purposeful use of bioresources, as well as create economic opportunities for local communities.

The project is significant as it brings together diverse stakeholders to work towards a common goal of sustainable Bio-resource management. By engaging Panchayat members, experts, and young people, the project aims to institutionalise the process as an important and well-funded function of the Panchayat. Additionally, the project seeks to bridge the gap between traditional knowledge and modern practices.

Key Objectives

The key objectives for IBBN, the India Biochar and Bioresources network, in their unique project to dynamize Panchayats as repositories and trading points of local bioresources for agricultural, seeds, carbon trading, medicinal use by including Panchayat members, experts, and young people in villages to do a floral bioresource mapping in Byrkuru Panchayat in Kolar are as follows:

  1. Promote a participatory process involving all the key stakeholders at the Panchayat level to promote awareness on the importance of Bioresources and to forge strategic collaborations to to Identify and document the various species of crops and uncultivated plants and trees in the Panchayat. 

  2. Ensure that the survey is comprehensive, accurate, and representative of local knowledge and practices by documenting contemporary and past practices in efficient management of Bioresources in its various uses. 

  3. Integrate the efficient use of bioresources in Indian villages into carbon markets, which will benefit individual farmers as well as the Panchayats. 

  4. Understand the needs and priorities of farmers, artisans, potters and others related to bioresources  and influence panchayats to inventory bioresources, monetize them, use them sustainably, and develop biodiversity and biomass for ecological and agricultural purposes.

  5. Develop a framework for sustainable management of bioresources and biodiversity taking into account local needs and practices.

  6. Build capacity among local stakeholders, including farmers, panchayat members, and young people, to manage bioresources and biodiversity sustainably and facilitate the sharing of best practices and lessons learned with other panchayats and communities in India.

  7. Advocate for policies and programs within the framework of the 73rd amendment of the Constitution and the 11th schedule that support sustainable management of bioresources and biodiversity in India, based on the lessons learned from the Byrkuru survey.

  8. Demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits of sustainable practices for managing bioresources to encourage wider adoption and replication in other areas.

  9. Develop best practices for the sustainable utilization of bioresources, including composting, biochar production, and other innovative approaches.

  10. Promote the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices that enhance soil health, improve crop productivity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Planned outcomes:

Strengthening local democracy: The 73rd amendment to the Indian constitution empowers Panchayats with the responsibility of local governance. By involving panchayats in bioresource management, we can strengthen local democracy and promote community participation in decision-making on developing and implementing sustainable farming practices that optimize the use of bioresources, such as agricultural waste, crop residues, and manure, to reduce carbon emissions.

Implementing the 11th Schedule: The 11th Schedule of the Indian constitution mandates the decentralization of power to Panchayats, including the responsibility for planning and implementation of programs for economic development and social justice. Encouraging panchayats to manage local bioresources can help them fulfil this mandate and promote sustainable development.

Promoting sustainable agriculture: Panchayats can play a vital role in promoting sustainable agriculture practices by encouraging farmers to adopt eco-friendly farming methods, conserving soil health, and promoting the use of natural resources like bio fertilizers and organic manures.

Mitigating climate change: By promoting the sustainable use of local bioresources, panchayats can contribute to mitigating the impact of climate change. The use of Biochar, for example, can help to sequester carbon in the soil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Generating carbon credits: Sustainable bioresource management and Biochar adoption can also generate carbon credits that can be traded on international carbon markets. By involving panchayats in this process, we can help to ensure that local communities benefit from this economic opportunity.

Figure 4 and 5. Inventorying Biorsources will empower Panchayats to conserve, develop, use and trade the rich asset besides ecosystem renovation and Carbon trading.

Future plans:

  1. A Tool kit on Bioresource: Develop a tool kit to provide guidance on the best practices for the management of bioresources, including the use of Biochar for soil enrichment, organic fertilization, and renewable energy production. It will also offer recommendations on the most effective ways to promote sustainable agriculture practices, improve biodiversity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in rural areas. The toolkit will support farmers and panchayats in their efforts to create sustainable and resilient communities by providing them with the knowledge and tools needed to develop and maintain bioresource-based enterprises that generate income and reduce their carbon footprint.
  1. Awareness and training: Conducting training programs and awareness campaigns for farmers and panchayats to educate them about the benefits of using bioresources and biochar, and the importance of sustainable agriculture practices. These programs should include practical demonstrations on the preparation, management, and use of bioresources, and how to effectively use biochar in farming.
  1. Access to technology and resources: Providing farmers and panchayats with access to the necessary technology and resources to effectively manage and utilize bioresources and biochar. This includes technical support for the installation of Biochar furnaces, composting units, and other equipment that can help them efficiently convert their agricultural waste into bioresources.
  1. Establishment of bioresource and biochar supply chains: Developing and establishing supply chains for bioresources and biochar to ensure that the produce is marketed and sold at a fair price. The project can also leverage existing government schemes and programs to provide additional support to farmers and panchayats.
  1. Carbon credit generation and marketing: Establishing partnerships with carbon market platforms to facilitate the generation and trading of carbon credits. The project can help farmers and panchayats to register on the platform, quantify their carbon emissions reduction, and sell their carbon credits. This will provide them with additional revenue streams while contributing to climate action.
  1. Biodiversity conservation: Emphasizing the importance of biodiversity conservation in the use of bioresources and biochar. The project should encourage the use of non-toxic and environmentally friendly methods for pest and disease control, crop rotation, and intercropping to improve soil fertility. 

— Written by Dr.Kshithij Urs, Executive Director, India Biochar and Bioresources Network

The IBBN Secretariat is hosted by the Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture Network and Snehakunja trust, and supported by GIZ  – The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale.

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