Stories tagged: India

Climate Smart Agriculture: Stories of Success

A series of success stories of climate smart agriculture in action, has been released by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) to demonstrate the varied ways climate smart agriculture can take shape.

In an effort to inspire future policies and investments for making the world’s one billion farmers most resilient to the immediate threats that climate change poses on their livelihoods, the new booklet Climate Smart Agriculture Success Stories from Farming Communities around the World examines sixteen up to date examples from around the world.

A woman farmer tends works in a paddy field in the Eastern Indian state of Orissa

A woman farmer tends works in a paddy field in the Eastern Indian state of Orissa

Did you know:

– Over 5 million ha of degraded land in the Sahel have been restored through a practice known as ‘farmer-managed natural regeneration’, increasing the food security of millions of people and enhancing their resilience in the face of climate change.

– Weather-index-based crop insurance has encouraged over 12 million farmers in India to invest in their crops, boosting food security and the resilience of smallholder production systems.

– Denmark’s Green Growth policy has helped reduce the agriculture sector’s carbon footprint while ensuring the sector remains vibrant. Smart measures, such as improved use of manure and a 40% reduction in the use of inorganic fertiliser, have contributed to a 28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2009.

The lack of progress at the UN climate talks, still underway in Warsaw, Poland, have left farming organisations frustrated. The examples set out in this new booklet must serve as inspiration to continue collaboration and knowledge sharing that is already helping to equip farmers with the tools they need to cope in the face of a changing climate.

Download your copy of Climate Smart Agriculture Success Stories from Farming Communities around the World here.

Digital Green: Agricultural Extension Goes Viral in India

Agriculture accounts for between 50-60% of the workforce in India. India is also the country that dedicates the second largest workforce to agriculture extension, employing more than 100,000 people to share knowledge on best agricultural practice.

Yet several barriers have hindered adoption of best practice in India, from illiteracy levels in rural communities, to lack of access to cost-effective technology and the limited mobility of extension agents. In 2006, US born Rikin Gandhi set up an organisation that would significantly break down these barriers for the first time. Six years later, his platform Digital Green has reached nearly 118,000 Indian farmers.

“We like to say that Digital Green is essentially American Idol for Indian farmers”, Rikin smiles. This means that Indian farmers are coached to ‘star’ in their own videos that demonstrate an agricultural practice that is relevant to their local area, in their local language. These videos are then shared, by the numerous extension agencies that Digital Green partners with. The extension agents use a low-cost, battery operated pico projector, that is able to work in areas with limited electricity. Since the programme’s inception in 2006, over 2,000 videos have been produced.

“The aim is to improve the efficiency of the existing extension agencies that we partner with”, Rikin comments. Digital Green now works in six states in India, across 1200 villages, reaching well over 100,000 farmers. Video content produced varies greatly, given that the challenges that face farmers across India vary with each region. Rikin commented that the most popular video on Digital Green is one teaching farmers about the cultivation of Azolla. Azolla is an aquatic fern that when fed to cattle can boost their milk production by up to one litre. “This practice started off in one corner of a state we worked in about six years ago, and now we see it all across the six states we work in.”

This example video demonstrates the key aspects of all Digital Green videos. Videos are recorded in local languages and dialects, making them easy to understand, and local farmers are the ‘actors’, meaning they are by farmers, for farmers, of farmers. The reconnection with local communities is the defining feature of this extension model; as the farmers that watch the videos feel inspired by fellow farmers in similar circumstances. Statistics available on the Digital Green website are testament to the success of this model, showing that of the farmers adopting new agricultural practices, over half had seen a Digital Green video in the last 60 days.

The Digital Green revolution is growing, with an average of 80 videos shown to farmers daily. To find out more, visit www.digitalgreen.org, or follow @digitalgreenorg on Twitter.

New Publication Debates Issues Surrounding India’s Future Food Security

Last week, a publication by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), written in collaboration with Oxfam India was launched, entitled ‘Standing on the Threshold: Food Justice in India’. The special bulletin brings together the views and opinions of several of India’s leading practitioners and thinkers, as the country stands on the ‘threshold’ of the much anticipated National Food Security Bill, which is currently working its way through parliament.

Since the 1990s, India has seen enormous economic growth, with the OECD estimating a growth of more than 7.5 percent in 2013. Yet 46 percent of children in India are classified as malnourished, and 31 million children under the age of three weigh too little for their age, as identified in the 2005 National Family Health Survey. Today, of the estimated 925 million hungry people in the world, 230 million are found to live in India.

The proposed National Food Security Bill aims to provide legal entitlement over subsidised food grains to the poor. This concedes that it is in fact the government’s responsibility to provide nutrition and public health, as the right to food is directly related to the constitutional guarantee of a right to life. Yet the new IDS special bulletin aims to stimulate debate around a much wider set of topics that are vital to achieving food security, such as how to stimulate agriculture in the context of a changing climate and how to protect the land and mineral rights of the marginalised.

In a recent article on the Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog, Biraj Swian, Oxfam India’s campaigns manager, commented:

If India’s second green revolution is to contribute to an accelerated reduction of poverty, hunger and malnutrition, it has to be a state-led project. Far from being old-fashioned, the state’s pricing policies, legal entitlement system, public distribution and natural resource management programmes are key to reaching the poorest of the poor. If food security is about having certainty about the future, the common goal must also be growth in agriculture and food security that gives the same rights on the land to men and women farmers.

Lawrence Haddad, IDS Director also commented that India’s National Food Security Bill could in fact serve as inspiration for other countries to follow suit in address their national food security issues:

India is taking the largest step toward food justice the world has ever seen through National Food Security Bill (NFSB). Although the Bill alone won’t fix India’s food system, the world will be watching to see if it can provide a template for other countries to follow.

The Food Security Bill marks a big step forward for India in eradicating hunger, as the bill will cover around 70 per cent of Indian households, the highest proportion of households covered by such programme anywhere in the world.

Click here for more information or a copy of “Standing on the Threshold: Food Justice in India”.

 

 

Global Conference on Women in Agriculture – New Delhi, India

Conference Themes:
  1. Assessing Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture
  2. Agricultural Innovations for Reducing Drudgery
  3. Linking Women to Markets
  4. Role of Women in Household Food and Nutritional Security
  5. Access to Assets, Resources and Knowledge: Policies and Services
  6. Impact and Responses to Climate Change Related Risks and Uncertainties

In addition, there will be Working Group discussions to have a Framework for Action on Engendering Agricultural Research, Education and Extension.

More information here

Mobile technology boosts farmer income in India

Agriculture is crucial to India’s economy, as it provides 23% of GDP and employs 66% of the workforce. However, most of India’s poorest people are subsistence farmers who have little or no access no technology and markets for their produce. Farmers lack knowledge on which markets to target and what price to charge.

Deepa Bachu, Director of Emerging Market Innovation at Intuit sought a solution to this problem. The research she carried out in Karnataka back in 2008 found that 40% of the time, farmers were accepting lower prices in order to sell perishable goods and up to 100% of the farmers she visited were unsure of whether the prices they were charging were correct.

As a solution, Deepa developed a free SMS based product called Intuit Fasal that connects rural farmers with buyers and provides them with real-time price information via mobile phone. It is described as ‘a basic supply and demand calculator’. Farmers register for updates by calling a toll free number and will then receive three text messages daily from the service. These messages are tailored to the farmer’s crop and location, thus helping them chose the right market to target in order to get the best price.

The service currently has more than 500,000 users who earn an average of 20% more income thanks to the technology.

Mobile technology has been used increasingly to enhance agricultural productivity. Access to up-to-date market pricing information is essential if farmers are going to increase their profitability, and in turn, increase production rates. (Farming First Principle 5)

Improving Harvests Through Integrated Pest Management

Chili farmers in Andra Pradesh used to lose up to 40 percent of their harvest to pest infestations. With poor quality crops, farmers failed to secure high prices in the market. In addition, excessive use of crop protection products resulted in high pesticide residue levels in produce, compromising food safety and risking rejection for export.

Muvva Ramachandrao has grown chilies for more than 35 years in India’s Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh. Yet, he struggled to protect his crops from disease and pests, losing up to 40 percent of his crop on average.

To solve the problem, CropLife India joined with the Department of Agriculture to implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs throughout the state. These training sessions are designed to help farmers identify plant diseases and insect infestations and decide on the type and quantity of pesticides to use according to instructions on the labels. IPM helps farmers cut costs, improve crop quality and add value to their harvest. The partners have trained some 1,400 farmers on IPM in villages across Guntur in the form of seminars, field training and field demonstrations.

After participating in CropLife India’s IPM program, Ramachandrao has learnt strategies to use even in the early stages of cultivation. In the past, he would liberally apply fertilizer to his crops – an often inefficient and unnecessary practice. Aiming to encourage improved habits, project officers tested his soil to see which nutrients it lacked. Now, Ramachandrao only has to purchase and apply fertilizers to provide the missing nutrients. He also discovered that treating his seeds with pesticides before sowing in the field saves five to six spray cycles. With these new practices, Ramachandrao’s family can now focus on other productive activities, instead of dedicating all of their time, money and energy to farming.

When his chilies started to look healthier, turning brighter in color, Ramachandrao realized that his new techniques were indeed successful. Soon, one of the biggest chili exporters in India began to buy directly from Ramachandrao’s farm – and he was soon getting premium prices for his harvest. This process was facilitated by a government institute at Kochi, set up by the Spices Board to test chilies for export quality.

With increased savings and improved earnings, chili farming has become profitable for Ramachandrao’s family. Becoming debt-free was only one of the many benefits.

Visit www.croplifeasia.org to learn more about work towards sustainable agriculture across the Asia Pacific region.