The second step is a classification of the different cropping mixes under which cultivated plants are grown, ranging from highly diverse home gardens to extensive paddy fields under a single modern breeder’s variety. The number of classes to be recognised will have to be decided upon primarily in terms of convenience. The third step is then a variety of measurements for representative fields of each class of cropping mix. These would include : (a) Diversity of cultivated plants, (b) Diversity of pests, diseases, weeds, (c) Diversity of other non-cultivated plants and animals associated with the crops, (d) Inputs into cultivation including labour, specially purchased seeds, manure, fertilizers and pesticides (e) Levels of biomass production (f) Levels of economically valuable products and by-products of cultivation. In addition, of course, there would be soil and water related measurements mentioned above.
These would focus on how patterns and practices of cultivation have changed over time, and how these have affected the ecosystem goods and services; bads and disservices. People in Mala cluster have expressed a number of concerns, including (i) non-sustainable use of irrigation water (ii) Loss of soil fertility under continued application of chemical fertilizers (iii) death of many non-target organisms due to applications of pesticides. However, there seems to be little concern with loss of diversity of cultivars. There were many cultivars of paddy; there was little such variation in other important crops such as arecanut and coconut . Since paddy is the least paying of the crops and is losing out to other crops, there seems to be little interest in the maintenance of its cultivars, though people do recall that the traditional cultivars had better flavour and taste, although lower levels of yields. A very interesting on-going effort in Mala cluster is that of revival of organic agriculture led by one of the largest land-owners, Mr. Muniraj Ballal.
`Brahma Srushti’ and `Vishwamitra Srushti’:
Local people talk of Creation of two worlds or Srushtis, that of Brahma, the God of Creation and of Vishwamitra, a sage. The usual cultivated varieties of plants have been regarded as the `Brahma Srushti’. The wild relatives of cultivated plants, including wild pepper, wild mango, wild jack-fruit, wild cardamom, wild nutmeg etc. have been considered as `Vishwamitra Srushti’, and there have greater genetic vigour and could be cross-pollinated/ grafted with the cultivated varieties to rejuvenate and revitalize the cultivated varieties from time to time.
Table 12. Ecosystem goods/ services/ bads/ disservices associated with cultivated lands of Mala study cluster