Floating gardens for the landless
The coastal district of Puri in Odisha is infested with water hyacinth. In 1982, 10 million people and 3 million hectares of agricultural land was affected by floods causing the water hyacinth to increase to such an extent that it has affected the lives and livelihood of communities for almost three decades.
“The uncontrolled growth of water hyacinth has made our lives miserable. We did our best to clean up our ponds and water sources, but it kept growing. When we take it out and dump it, it rots. If we allow it to grow, it renders our water resources unusable and becomes a resting place for snakes and numerous insects”, says Jagabandhu Biswal, a resident of Dahana village of Madhuban Gram Panchayat. Not only this but the water hyacinth also clogs agricultural canals, affects farming systems and attracts birds which feed on the insects and also on the paddy grains.
The livelihoods of marginalised people in coastal Odisha are often constrained by 7-8 months of water stagnation due to floods. To solve the problem due to water hyacinth, the Regional Centre for Development Cooperation (RCDC) team consulted Ardhendu Sekhar Chatterjee, noted sustainable agriculture proponent, who suggested initiating the floating garden concept in the region.