If you ate today, thank a farmer. National Farmers’ Day aka Kisan Diwas is being observed nationwide, and it couldn’t be at a more significant time. Earlier this year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the promotion of Zero Budget Natural Farming in the Union Budget 2019 to boost farmer’s income and save them from the debt trap.
Here are this year’s CSR programmes for farmers’ welfare which are making a big impact in improving their lives.
CSR for improving air quality
Due to lack of awareness and non-availability of suitable technologies, stubble burning has become a common practice among farmers which results in PM 2.5 and other hazardous gaseous pollutants like CO2, CO, CH4.
Through their CSR project Shodhan, Birlasoft along with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Foundation aim to improve the local air quality by reducing burning of straw as well as enhancing the soil and farm ecology by incorporating biomass in the soil. It will also save farmers 10-15% of water and reduce the use of chemical inputs such as weedicide and fertilizer.
As part of the collaboration, Shodhan aims at improving the quality of air through “Zero Stubble Burning”; a yearlong mass movement to eradicate stubble burning in 13,000 acres of farmland across 20 villages of Punjab and Haryana and curb air pollution caused by it. The project is focused on bringing about behavioural change among farmers and promote the adoption of sustainable and environment-friendly straw management and farm practices.
Samit Deb, Chief People Officer, Birlasoft said, “Stepping into the third phase of the programme, we hope to counter the improper management of crop residue and at the same time educate and benefit the farmers our country.”
After the success of the first two phases of Shodhan, the third phase will be implemented in two stubble burning hotspot districts of Punjab and Haryana. The two districts, Patiala and Fatehabad run across 13,000 acres of farmable land and 20 villages; and have had several stubble burning cases in the region.
Through this programme, the companies will not just bring about behavioural change among farmers but also support them with the recommended farm machinery and tools. This will also include handholding the farmers in the entire cropping cycles for the next two years. At the end of Phase 3, Project Shodhan will have positively impacted 50 villages covering approximately 43,000 acres of farmable land.
CSR for tea plantation workers
CupShup, an independent advertising start-up, has joined hands with Oxfam India, to campaign for fair wages and better living conditions of tea plantation workers of Assam.
Through CupShup’s network, Oxfam India aims to reach out to corporates to create awareness regarding the living and working conditions of tea plantation workers in Assam. CupShup distributed cups with unique taglines and quotes printed on it, highlighting the issues faced by tea farmers in their day-to-day life, along with the details of the campaign which an individual can support. The team distributed cups to more than 200 corporates across Mumbai, Pune & Bengaluru, through this campaign.
“Our research points to the fact that the tea plantation workers and their families have a very vulnerable existence. It is important that Indian consumers continue enjoying their cup of tea and at the same time demand fair living wages for workers,” said Amitabh Behar, CEO, Oxfam India.
Training in natural farming
Zero Budget Natural Farming is an accepted practise in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh with widespread adoption – over 30 million farmers practise this approach.
Lupin Foundation, the CSR arm of pharma company Lupin Ltd., organised a six-day residential workshop on natural farming, aimed at training Indian farmers on innovative, cost-effective and eco-friendly natural farming techniques. Padma Shri Awardee Subhash Palekar planned and delivered the lectures with demonstration sessions and also provided guidance on making farm-use products such as Jeevaamrit, Beejamrit, Gan Jeevaamrit and other bio-pesticides. More than 7000 farmers from various states – including Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra – participated in the training camp.
Sitaram Gupta, Executive Director, Lupin Human Welfare and Research Foundation, said, “This programme aims to complement our Government’s efforts towards doubling of farmer’s income by 2022. Lupin Foundation is aiming to improve income for farmers by aligning with Natural Farming. We would train the farmers and equip them with the knowledge on how farming is done in sync with nature, so as to cut down farming expenditure drastically.”
Scientific Probe to Switch from Traditional to High-Value Crops
Nabarangpur district of Odisha is recognized as one of the poorest districts in India. It is predominantly an agriculture district with 90% of its habitants relying on farming for livelihood. In order to uplift the lives of the farmers in the district, a team of scientists from premier central government institutes have joined hands to provide them with scientific inputs and help them improve their earnings.
Farm-based S&T Interventions for Socioeconomic Development is a project run under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and is being jointly implemented by 12 central R&D Institutes and an 18-member district-level committee of the state government. Under the project, the farmers are encouraged to switch from traditional crops to high-value crops and adopt new methods to grow and sell them efficiently.
Under the supervision of top institutes including Central Institute of Medicine and Aromatic Plants, National Botanical Research Institute, Institute of Life Sciences, Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, and many more, the farmers of the Nabarangpur district are now growing lemongrass, turmeric, palmarosa (a grass species), tulsi, roses and even citronella (used in mosquito repellants). The region being unfavourable for paddy cultivation is now making hefty profits by growing high-value crops instead. The institutes are also training the farmers in pisciculture, poultry rearing. Apart from this, a Self Help Group (SHG) of 60 women are also mentored and trained in making incense sticks out of tulsi leaves.
The government has ensured that the products made by the habitants of the district will be packaged and sold to stores throughout the state. It has also agreed to set up a stall which sells these products in government fairs held across 30 districts, in order to avail a profitable income to farmers in the district.
Watershed Management to Improve Agriculture Productivity
56 per cent of agriculture in the country directly depends on the monsoon rains. Lower rainfall than normal in several regions in recent years has left millions of farmers disheartened with dry fields and failed crops. Vijayapura district of Karnataka state has been among the worst affected because of this. It led to a mass migration of the farmers, poor health, increased poverty and even increased number of farmer suicide cases.
In order to address the issue, Power Grid Corporation of India, Gurgaon, supported the ICRISAT-led consortium to improve rural livelihoods through farmer-centric integrated watershed management. In order to implement the project, first, the Action sites were identified in Basavana Bagewadi taluk in Karnataka. This was done after consideration of the representation of various factors such as soil, landscape, rainfall, crops, socio-economic conditions and so on. The overall goal of this initiative is to increase agricultural productivity and improve the livelihoods of rural poor in fragile dryland areas on a sustainable basis by enhancing the impact of integrated watershed management programs. This is to be achieved through capacity-building initiatives using the ‘site of learning’ model in low-rainfall agro-ecoregions. The specific goal of this initiative is to increase agricultural productivity and improve rural livelihoods sustainable in selected villages.
The specific objectives of the project are:
1. To establish “Model Sites of Learning” for harnessing the potential of rain-fed areas by adopting the integrated water resource management approach;
2. To enhance water availability and its (green and blue water) use efficiency for diversifying the livelihood systems in the target villages by adopting integrated water resource management approach; and
3. To build the capacity of the farmers in the region for improving rural livelihoods through knowledge sharing and dissemination strategy.
Farmers are the backbone of India’s economy. It is important to empower them if the country wants to meet its target of becoming a 5 trillion-dollar economy by 2024. Growth of farmers is therefore not only beneficial to the farmers, but to every citizen of India.