Flood Codes for food and livelihood security: Prof M S Swaminathan

(Representative pic of a flooded field, photo credit: MSSRF)

Chennai, July 26, 2016: There are reports of heavy  floods in the riverine portions of Bihar. This is not uncommon and that is why I proposed over forty years ago the preparation and operation of Flood Codes for such regions. The floods caused not only damage to crops and property but also can lead to post-flood problems like food and famine. Under the Flood Code, alternative crops should be kept ready so that as soon as the flood recedes, they can be planted in the diara land which tends to get submerged during the monsoon. The strategy should be planting saathi maize (60 day variety), sweet potato and rice varieties with genes for stem elongation. In this way, farmers may get atleast one crop and some income for their food and livelihood needs. The Flood Code would become the saviour of farm families in the flood prone areas and thereby enhance their coping mechanism to such extreme conditions. With climate change which can enhance the frequency of occurrence of drought and floods, such an anticipatory code of action supported by appropriate planting material will insulate the local communities from total loss of food and livelihood security.