This article discusses:
- The conditions of high summer in the district around Ikaki Bagh
- Work typically done during this period by villagers
- Work being undertaken at Ikaki Bagh
It’s 4 am and the sun begins to rise, burning in to the rural countryside at Ikaki Bagh. It is 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) and by midday it will be around 40 degrees or more (113 degrees F). The air stagnates in the heat with the lack of a breeze and the humidity settles at a dry 50%.
It is a time of year to adapt and get through to the monsoon season due in July.
For Indians living in the cities who can afford to do so, this is the time to escape the heat of the plains for the cool of the mountains.
For future tourists to India it is often a time to plan their visit later in the year. By July, the monsoon rains are due. This can be an enjoyable time to visit for tourists as the rains mostly fall late in the day. From this point on, you can see the early emergence of the rural countryside form the hot summer.
Rural Work in Summer
During high summer, villages throughout rural Rajasthan’s draw on generations of experience to get through the height of summer. Water is drawn from wells late in the day and goats are herded at night in search of food although overgrazing is a constant threat, especially at this time of year.
A lot of use is made of the indigenous Kunchey Grass (Saccharum bengalensis), a tall grass used for thatching houses, animal stables and fences. This grass often grows up to four metres and helpfully is of hardly any use as stock fodder.
Farm fields lie dried out in the heat, dependant on the monsoon rains later in the year to ready the soil for crop planting and fill up the aquifers and village wells again.
Buffalos and cows flag in the heat. Goats, sometimes known as the poor man’s cow, are better adapted to the heat and provide meat, milk and skins.
In Rajasthan, children take a break from school from mid-May until the end of June. At home in the villages, children are expected to help with daily chores including minding younger brothers, sisters and cousins. A daily routine is helping draw water from the community well to be carried home by the women in large metal pots, settled on their heads.
While fields lie dormant, high summer is a time to undertake important infrastructure, development and farm maintenance.
Ikaki Bagh Summer Work Program
At Ikaki Bagh, an intensive program is underway to install a new drip watering system.
With careful use of regulators to control water pressure and individual taps on line, the focus for this new system is to improve water use and sustainability. The system will better water the soil not the crop plants themselves, water only as much as is necessary and encourage deeper rooted plants that require less frequent watering.
The new watering system is being accompanied by a rolling program of soil improvement and mulching. Details of these activities are also recorded in log books as part of Ikaki Bagh’s move towards full organic certification by the Rajasthan Organic Certification Organisation (ROCA) of the State Government of Rajasthan
High summer is an important, annual period for a range of farming activities including:
- Sharpening and repairing tools and equipment
- Replacing or repairing roof thatching using Kunchey Grass
- Cleaning and repairing water management and irrigation systems and other farm infrastructure such as fences, walls and storage yards