Across Morocco, India, Nepal, and Uzbekistan's sweeping, and at times desiccated tracts of land, two ICARDA agronomists are researching crop associations to improve the soil, make the most out of scarce water, and boost farmers' income.
Dr. Mina Devkota and Dr. Rajni Sinha have set themselves a meaningful yet complex mission: to rehabilitate the dry regions' soils, broken down by decades of intensive tillage, overgrazing, overuse, and damaging industrial farming practices inherited from the 1950's Green Revolution.
Monocropping, for example, consists in cultivating a single crop, over and over for decades, on the same tired piece of land. Often coupled with an increasing reliance on chemical herbicides and fertilizers, these combined practices greatly impoverish the soil's microbiome and its ability to transfer vital nutrients to the crops.
The two scientists are adamant that such methods are unsustainable destructive and entirely unfit to guarantee long-term food security.
Instead, they bet on diversified cropping systems.