Climate Resilient Agriculture, INDIA


MAJULI, the largest river island in the world and a giant wetland broken only by embankments which house the primary human settlements and is in many ways the communication lifeline of the island. The two key issues faced by the inhabitants are the ever present threat of floods in the monsoon and the erosive capacity of the mighty Brahmaputra and the other rivers which are steadily eroding the island. In a changing world where climate related events are increasingly becoming common place the need of the hour is to increase the adaptive capacity of the inhabitants of such fragile landscapes in a manner which would contribute to their livelihood and preserves the social fabric of these communities. Therefore, the main aim of this project is to carry out activities that would fulfill the above stated need. The climate smart method used in Majuli owes its origin to the farmers of Barisal, situated in Bangladesh where this has been an age old practice. Also conferred a ‘heritage practice’ by UNESCO, this TEK has been modernized by SAFE into ‘Hydroponic Technology’ for climate resilience.


The first river island district, MAJULI, covers the area of 352sq.km & population of around 167,304, community fundamentally tied up with agricultural sector. Existence of devastating flood for 7months, totally destroy the agronomic constancy, the food insecurity critically hits the civic society.


Thousands of farmers in Majuli have suffered immense crop damage in the current spate of floods. They said there will be no cultivation on the island unless repair of the breached part of the Bongaon embankment is over.

According to the report of the Jorhat district administration, about 20,000 hectares of crop area in Majuli have been affected by the floods so far.

The floodwaters mainly damaged paddy and hampered cultivation of vegetables.

Nitumoni Bora, a farmer living in Kamalabari in Majuli, said, "This year, we will have no cultivation here as the breached part of the embankment will remain open."

She added, "My cultivation has been severely hit by the floods. I had planned to produce more crops till September but it is not possible now."

Mousumi Sakia, farmer living in Bhekulimari said, "We have lost everything in the floods. Our farmers have suffered heavy losses due to the breach in the embankment this year. If the embankment is not reconstructed, production will be nil this year."

She added, "Every year, the worst floods happen in August-September. We think the people of Majuli will suffer badly this year."

More than 90% of the inhabitants of Majuli are farmers. They are solely dependent on agriculture to eke out a living.

The turbulent waters of the Brahmaputra breached about 100 meters of the river protection dyke at Bongaon in Majuli on July 26. Over 1.2 lakh people in 160 out of 210 villages here have been hit.


A new flood resilient Agriculture method is generating hopes among farming community in Majuli. The hydroponics initiative taken up by South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE), and supported by NABARD yields encouraging result in the river island district. Suitable for the flood prone areas like Majuli, SAFE started the first phase of the pilot project ‘Floating Technology Grows Hope for Better Future, Climate Resilient Agriculture in Majuli District of Assam” in various ponds in the district since last week of June this year on an experimental basis.


In the first phase, this floating raft based vegetable farming project was introduced on 6 ponds at Pohardiya, Jamodchuk, Lahongaon, Borhula, Bhekulimari and Sonaribari gaon. Sponsored by NABARD and encouraged by Majuli district Administration, especially the Deputy Commissioner Majuli Pallav Gopal Jha, SAFE first imparted training on this floating vegetable farming method to few farmers group formed by local young farmers and then engaged them in these hydroponics sites. In Pohardiya village, 10 numbers of floating beds are used to cultivate local varieties of vegetables.

One of the Farmers using this new cultivation method, Arun Das claims that he has got a production of 80 kgs of ladies’ finger from his two floating rafts.


In the next step, freshwater aquaculture in inundated floodplains and wetlands and shallow areas of derelict water bodies/lagoons/lakes etc. can be made use of for raising table size fishes and prawns in encloses (PENs). After accessing water depth, duration of the water availability and seed availability, farmers are advised to erect pens of suitable size and shape, depending on the capacity of water bodies and topography of the area. However, pens of 0.1 to 0.2 ha size is economical and ideal for easy operation.

Impact :

Reception of ideas :

  • Standardization of a place-based hydroponic farming system ready to use in flood prone areas for adaptive farm production. Each float will be providing 2-3 harvest cycles at an average in a span of 6-7 months, during which the area remains flooded and water logged.
  • Acceptance of the hydroponic model of farming in more than 50% of the target beneficiaries as an adaptive alternative during disaster period.
  • Selection and in-situ conservation of at least 10 cash crops, suitable for hydroponic farming and covering food, feed and fodder
  • Technology partnership with 250 marginal farmers inhabiting in island floodplains and skill building in at least 10% of the beneficiaries (or 25 heads) who can train others.
  • Successful model-run of hydroponic farming in at least 0.25 hectare (50 Sq Mt X 6 units) in the target area for demonstration
  • Community preparedness in 5 villages on flood hazards, disaster response teaming and preparation of community helpline for flood victims.
  • A complete documentation on strategic impact assessment study on the intervention through a participatory vulnerability analysis

Social stabilization :

  • An incremental signature in primary productivity of cash crops through hydroponics that can assure food security and also availability of feed and fodder for small ruminants during disaster.
  • Augmented social assurance and increased community resilience, as can be evaluated through attitude scaling, amongst beneficiaries
  • Women empowerment through capacity building, financial inclusion and community entrepreneurship
  • Comparative reduction in economic stress and migration of inhabitants as casual laborers in post disaster phase along with retention of animal assets and feed stocks
  • Women empowerment through capacity building, financial inclusion and community entrepreneurship

Environmental Enrichment :

  • Enhanced community resilience to combat environmental disaster, post ante hazards and economic breakdown
  • Not just climate resilience but this undertaking also supports food security and agro-biodiversity conservation.

Future road map :

Though the project is still going on an experimental basis in Majuli, it has already shown its impact in the society. From many other parts of the state, people have shown their interest for this floating raft based on alternative farming approach.