The world has changed a lot since we began farming here in the mid nineteen-eighties. Land prices have increased manifold. Indian population has grown by more than 70% and industrial development is growing very fast in our area. Educational institutions and big hospitals are springing up everywhere.
All this is happening at the cost of agriculture. Lands are being bought up by the big industry or real estate developers and the pressure on the remaining farms is getting more intense by the day.
When we started Annapurna farm we made a bund around the land and planted a live fence of thorny bushes which would sort of protect the fields. Borders were not really a big issue and land disputes with neighbours were generally solved amicably since there was not too much at stake. The only hassle we had were with stray cows and goats which would wander into crops regularly; that would raise the tempers because the animals were the bank where local people had put their savings into, while we had put all our energy into the crops.
Today there are less cows and goats in our area because people have actual bank accounts with savings and family gold as investments. There is also less need for firewood collecting because LPG cooking gas cylinders are now commonly used. All these developments have led to the proliferation of wild life (mainly pigs and deer) which are much more difficult to control than domesticated animals. Since the land is very valuable, local land owners tend to push boundaries whenever we turn our heads; they do not respect our green fences. This happens very fast with powerful backhoe tractors (JCB) and chain saws which are now part of the daily landscape in this part of the country. Once a fence is moved it is a whole, long, complicated story to get it back on the proper place. Emotions can run very high!
All this is surely good for our personal yoga but we also feel it is important to put something more effective in place in order to protect the farm; the future will surely not get better in this respect.
Right now we cannot use extensive areas of the farm effectively because of the wild pigs and deer which destroy almost any crop.
Annapurna has a long boundary of approximately 7 km; so you can see, that is a very big job.
As mentioned in a previous newsletter (July 2021) we have received some funds to start a pilot to build a test fence to assess the material to be used, cost involved and practicalities how to get the work done.
Pictures: Old fence with broken pillar, existing life fence, the new fence concept
This summer we have started to build a very short section to get a feel of the concept we have in mind. The 5m fence which we put up feels good, solid and up to the task for what we need. It is basically a grid of slotted concrete pillars with kadappa slabs which are put 45 cm into the ground and about 1m is above ground level. Over that we put barbed wire for 90-100cm. Some years back the Land Board of Auroville had put up a fence on a few sensitive parts of the farm, but this fence is not very effective and is easily vandalized, so we felt we really need something more solid, reliable and long standing.
The next step is going to be a pilot of 100m fence. In the process we hope to find a suitable contractor and to make a proper cost calculation of what this kind of fence will cost. Besides setting up the new fence we will have to clear the boundary and prepare the land for all this work.
Once the picture is clear we will have to find funds to do this work; this will give Annapurna farm a more secure future in the middle of this very dynamic and challenging environment.
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