Agriculture is dealt with as a Social Enterprise for small holders farmers. Agriculture constitutes 70 to 90 percent of the livelihoods portfolio of the average poor rural household in Tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh. Declining productivity, incomes and overall viability of agriculture, for small-holder farming systems particularly, is a big barrier towards achieving poverty reduction, food security, and economic empowerment of women. AEFC is revitalizing Agriculture Extension System, especially in tribal areas where reach of agriculture services and extension is extremely poor. The idea of this innovative model is a result of a study by State Planning Commission conducted in 2008-09 wherein it was reported that Agriculture is showing signs of becoming not very viable economic enterprise (beyond subsistence) for vast majority of farmers in tribal areas. AEFC's services were found necessary to develop a viable method for improving status of production, productivity and input efficiency in tribal areas, which will greatly enhance food security and incomes of the marginalized group of farmers in these areas. The farmers are looking for time bound tailor made agriculture information and linkage services. This innovation model will address these causes by establishing a progressive farmer led agriculture extension system which is modularized and linked with the block level Agriculture Enterprise Facilitation Centre (run by farmers groups /federations and a local CSO).
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Vrutti is currently working with 500 WADI Tribal families in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh under Tribal Development Fund (TDF) of NABARD started from April 2012. This seven years project targeted families coming from Gound tribe community. The TDF project aims to provide sustainable livelihoods for tribal families through orchard based integrated farming systems development, promote sustainable participatory livelihood programmes ('Wadi' model and 'beyond Wadi approaches') which aim at economic upliftment through sustainable agriculture, social empowerment, improvement in quality of life including health and women development, in tribal predominant area.
Promotional efforts such as capacity building, exposure visits, training, developing literature, sensitization programmes etc for the benefit of communities is undergoing. The program also aims to support activities related to development of tribal market, processing and marketing of products manufactured by tribal families/ communities. Currently, 1 acre of land is developed as orchard with integrated approach of cultivation. The main plants identified with participatory approaches are mango, lemon and guava with improved agriculture through vegetable cultivation and improve technology transfer in agriculture with help of entitlements realizations. The main component of program is to promote horticulture development, improved agriculture, water resource developments, soil & water conservation, empowerment of tribal women, capacity building of WADI families.
Vrutti started 79 Farmers' Clubs in villages of Sehore, Budni and Bankheri districts Madhya Pradesh. These are grass root level informal forums organized with the support of SBI in Bayan and financial assistance of NABARD for mutual benefit of the institutions and the farmers involved. Uniting farmers brings in group thinking, group efforts and group resources. The advantages of farmers' club identified are:
- Faster & more appropriate solutions for field problems when discussed in group by FC members
- Heterogeneous groups lead to diverse ideas and innovations, which would be combined and effective solutions are brought in
- Peer pressure brings stakeholders together at the local, block, district and state levels. Effectiveness and efficiency of tasks are ensured.
- Unity of farmers helps them focus on village welfare and sustaining their livelihoods
- Better technology is applied with farmers coming together
- Group trading and marketing brings in advantages of bargaining power
- Enhance bargaining power in bulk purchase of inputs
One of the objectives of Vrutti's AEFC social enterprise model is reducing the cost of cultivation of small holder farmers while adopting environmental sustainable practices. With the observation that small farmers expend Rs 1000-3000/- per acre on pesticide and tonics and that too not used in an appropriate scientific manner as per technical recommendations in the area. Traditional ideas of usage of cow urine and neem and castor leaf based bio-pesticide preparation idea were discussed but were initially received with apprehension due to the cumbersome nature of work. Vrutti encouraged the idea with Agri BDS providers and farmers club from a social enterprise perspective; trained on how this could reduce cost and its importance on environment and health; trained BDS on motivating registered farmers for collection of cow urine and supply to BDS for bio-pesticide preparations; assessed the utility of cow urine and neem leaf based bio-pesticides and the learning disseminated. The result was to improve farmer’s perception on the usage and scale-up. Merits of bio-pesticide:
- Increased no. of tillers
- Good health of plant
- Reduced yellowing of leaves
- Reduced fungal disease/infection
- Reduced infestation of pests
- Adequate supply of micro-nutrient
- Increased seed weight
- Improved lustre of the grains
NABARD sanctioned a project to establish two units in the Budani AEFC under the Environmental promotion assistance (EPA) grant support. Vrutti had established a bio-pesticide unit within the AEFC model in tribal focused area of Yardnagar and Kanndawar villages from Budani block of district Sehore of Madhya Pradesh. The intervention is implemented with 250 farmers who are rearing more than 600 cows in the project area but do not realize fully the proper environmental and economic benefits. Cow urine based unit is currently working as social enterprise model for small and marginal farmers. This project has created awareness among the farmers to increase the use of bio-pesticide through farmers club. The expected results of EPA project are:
- To establish the cow urine and NEEM based bio-pesticide unit to support direct 250 farmers to increase income and create awrenss among the all farmers club under the AEFC.
- To give value to local natural resources such as; cow urine, neem, caster and behaya leaf in terms of raw material for small and marginal as extra livelihood sources and this can contribute to environment development. To reduce the cost of cultivation of project area small and marginal farmers with climate change adaptation and bio- diversity conservations benefits.
Vrutti under the theme of Sustainable agriculture and Value chain development identified Soya as a commodity to support farmers. During the Kharif season over 75% of cultivated area comes under the soya cultivation from both the AEFCs. This Value-Chain Development program has been receiving support for soybean producing farmers from SDTT, Solidaridad India under its SOYPSI and Farmers Support Program (FSP). Vrutti is currently working with 4000 soy farmers in Madhya Pradesh for Enhancing Profitability of small and Marginal Soya Farmers through sustainable farming practices.
- To demonstrate the elements of Good Agricultural practices (GAP) in Soya cultivation and increase the productivity by at least by 20 % with decreased cost of cultivation
- To establish a peer learning system among lead farmers at Agriculture Business development provider and farmer club/group level
- To establish a network of progressive/lead farmers at cluster level these farmers based community based organization can form the Agriculture Enterprise Facilitation Center (AEFC) as Producer Company
- To help farmers become more aware on Social, gender and environmental sustainability regarding Soya cultivation
- To establish Soya certification system among the farmers group
Results of program: The program initiated 160 GAP demonstrations facilitated up to this season with lead farmers.
- 70% farmers reduced seed rate as per scientific recommendations
- Soya 40% farmers have net returns increase up to 4000 to 8000/- as compare with earlier returns.
- 60% farmers have started applying balance Nutrition, FYM/Vermi plus Chemical fertilizer to ensure 20:60:20:20 ratio
- 30% farmers have adopted 12 to 16 inches row to row spacing by tractor
- 60% farmers have started at least two practices IPM such use of use on bio-pesticide, FYM, compost pit, pheroman trap, summer deep ploughing, use of Bird perches (t-sticks)
- 16 master trainers and 30 Agri BDS providers are trained on responsible soya agriculture practices
- Intercropping with maize, yellow-gram is promoted in the project area to minimize the risk of soy cultivation and better returns from per acre
- Group level and field worker level training organized for 200 farmers
- Established two local Bankheri and Budni block based internal control system (ICS) and appointed managers to fulfil the requirement related to certification of producers on RTRS criteria and development of value chain
Vrutti is working it Sehore dist of Madhya Pradesh on seed production. In-house seed production is aimed at mitigating problems of low seed rate, low yield due to quality of seed, reduce incidence of pest and insect attacks, better size of grain and reduce the no. of hollow seeds in the seed lot, and increase profits. Vrutti's activities include training farmers on the know-how of seed production, techniques, production of foundation seed, certification of seed, etc.
Seed production in Sehore district was taken up in Jahajpura and Ninore villages by organising farmers into two societies – Vijayasun Seed Production Cooperative Society and Mekalsuta Seed Production Cooperative Society. These societies purchase seeds, assist farmers in sowing foundation and breeder seeds and in certifying these seeds by the Seed Certification Agency, sell the bred seed to farmers in the villages. Thus bred seed generates more revenue than the local variety because of its quality and high-yielding nature. Vrutti is working with the Certification Agency for registration of these societies so as to enable them sell the seed outside these villages too in order to increase revenue for the societies.
The merits measured due to this intervention are –
- Higher production of wheat
- Lower seed rate
- Better quality seed of wheat
- Lesser attack of insects and pests and fewer incidences of diseases
- Easy linkage with the market and seed agencies
- High profits in comparison to previous years
- Farmers are able to generate income for themselves