Flood Code : A Management Tool – Prof M S Swaminathan
Severe floods are now affecting parts of Assam, West Bengal and Bihar. The immediate suffering caused to both human beings and livestock is immense. Floods are however common at the beginning of the southwest monsoon in these areas. I therefore suggested in my Sardar Patel Memorial Lectures of the All India Radio in 1973 the following two pronged strategy to convert the calamity of floods into an opportunity for livelihood and nutrition security. First, the aquifer will get enriched as a result of the floods. There will be opportunities to grow crops after the flood recedes. I suggested a 60 day variety of maize and vitamin A rich sweet potato for being cultivated in the diara land (flood prone areas). The 60 day maize will provide immediately both food and income and also nutrition. The sweet potato also will insulate young children from both hunger and vitamin A deficiency.
The second important component of the Flood Code is the planning for alternative cropping strategy which can help both nutrition and income security. The flood prone season should be avoided for major crops. Instead the flood free season should become the major cropping season. Such a shift in the Brahmaputra Valley area of Assam provided considerable additional production of rice. This will however require cold tolerant rice varieties which can be developed from some of the good varieties from Korea. Since with climate change, floods are likely to be more frequent, it is important that every flood prone district develops and implements a flood code.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.