December 23rd in celebrated as National Farmer’s Day in India, to honour the birth anniversary of the agriculture leader and the fifth Prime Minister of India and the Agriculture Minister, Choudhary Charan Singh. The day is celebrated as a tribute to the ‘annadata’ of the country.
Significance of Farmers in India
It has been rightly said by M. S. Swaminathan, “If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right in the country.” This holds especially true for India considering the fact that Indian economy is an agriculture dominated economy. Agriculture is the source of employment for more than 50 per cent of the population in India. Its contribution to the country’s GDP is nearly 16 per cent.
During the country’s independence, the people of India often suffered from famines and food insecurity. We have come far from that time, all because of the hard labour of the farmers. However, despite their enormous contribution in stabilizing the country’s social and economic life, the farmers of India are among the poorest sections of the society.
The farmers in India are not educated and thus are not adapted to technological development. They also do not have the resources to install them in their farms, considering the fact that most of the farmers in India have very small landholdings under them. In such a scenario, they remain poor, and incapable to compete against farmers of other countries equipped with the latest technology. If not for various subsidies provided by the government of India, the farmers would find survival very difficult.
While the government keeps taking various measures for the welfare of the farmers and to increase their incomes to improve their standard of living, the corporates also are not far behind. Corporates in India, through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, work towards the development of farmers by addressing the various challenges they face. Some of the notable CSR initiatives for the welfare of farmers in India include:
Kellogg’s partnership with Technoserve to improve livelihoods of Smallholder Farmers in Uttar Pradesh
Kellogg Company and TechnoServe have partnered to implement the program – ‘Improving Livelihoods for Smallholder Farming Households in Uttar for the economic empowerment of smallholder wheat farmers in five districts of Uttar Pradesh. The program is aimed at helping the farmers to improve crop productivity, access better markets and help bolster farmer livelihoods. The program is one of Kellogg Company’s endeavours to nurture the planet under its Better Days initiative and is an extension of a partnership with TechnoServe which began in 2015, uplifting 12,000 farmers from Madhya Pradesh in the process by providing resources and training, improving farming practices, productivity, and livelihoods.
With this program, Kellogg Company and TechnoServe aim for successful results, similar to the ‘Climate Smart Agriculture initiative in Madhya Pradesh’ which kick-started in 2015 and helped 12,000+ farmers, in corn, wheat, soy and legume-growing regions, to adopt profitable, environmentally friendly, and easily accessible techniques to improve yields, crop quality, and resilience to climate threats. Participating farmers witnessed a 20% increase in income while families have also learned how to develop personal kitchen gardens, which improve nutrition and reduce food expenditures. The average household with a garden now consumes vegetables daily, while their spending on vegetables has decreased by nearly 75%.
CSR initiative by Srinivasan Services Trust (SST), the social arm of TVS Motor Company
Agriculture is the largest livelihood provider in India, especially in the vast rural areas. Challenges faced by most farmers are daunting and many in number. From dependence on rain for irrigation to lack of awareness about modern agriculture practices to poor seeds and methods of cultivation. As these challenges persist, farmers require continued support to sustain themselves and stay resilient.
SST has been instrumental since over a decade in supporting farmers by working with them at the grassroots level. Through various initiatives focused on agriculture, the foundation helps to build awareness amongst farmers on quality seeds, adoption of modern technology, creating and repairing water harvesting structures, promoting scientific methods of agriculture that are economically viable and environmentally sustainable. It has been able to reach over 22,453 farmers from 497 villages in Hosur cluster alone with the objective of enhancing the income of the farmers by reducing their expenses.
CSR initiative by Jindal Stainless
Jindal Stainless has launched a project in partnership with the Gram Unnati Foundation for ‘Improving the Incomes of Farmers through Production Practices and Market Linkages’. The project is being implemented at Hisar, Pataudi and Nuh (Districts Gurugarm and Mewat); and with NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) in rest of India. Around 2452 farmers are directly associated with the project and are given technical advisory assistance on agricultural practices, right from sowing till the harvesting for both Rabi and Kharif crops. Farmers also get an opportunity to participate in various other events and trainings such as Kisan Mela, exposure visits etc., conducted at various institutes. The project is exploring tie-ups with other institutional buyers in Delhi NCR to present farmers the opportunity to access a larger market. The farmer-centric project has also joined hands with NABARD to strengthen the Farmers Production Organisations (FPOs) in 6 districts of Haryana, 3 districts of Rajasthan and 2 districts of Uttar Pradesh.
Krishi Mitra by Mahindra & Mahindra
Mahindra & Mahindra, with the assistance of Swades Foundation, BAIF Development Research Foundation, and Dr Panhabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth has launched the Krishi Mitra project where it helped small and marginal farmers by educating them in updated techniques in farming. The farmers are trained in effective farming practices including soil health, crop planning, creating model farms with bio-dynamic farming practices, thereby increasing crop productivity, through the Wardha Family Farming Project, Krishi Mitra, and Integrated Watershed Development Project. In addition to the present, the project also provided for soil testing, advisory services, drip irrigation, community farming, seed culture farming, agriculture extension services, infrastructure development, and capacity building leading to improvement in agricultural productivity, for the advantage of the farmers.
Project Mooo under HUL’s Prabhat Initiative.
‘Project Mooo’ is a part of ‘Prabhat’ which is a community development initiative of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) that has been launched in partnership with UDAY – a skill development organization partnered with the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC). The project is first of its kind holistic AgTech solution that aims to tackle milk deficit, traceability, and personal extension issues through dairy management and knowledge and Communication Technologies (ICT) training. The project was launched at Mohi Khurd Village in Rajpura, Punjab, India. It aimed toward creating sustainable livelihoods for farmers by imparting dairy skills to rural farmers, including women dairy farmers. This included fixing of awareness camps on dairy as a sustainable business, providing digital & financial literacy, visiting farmers at their doorsteps with a team of dairy experts.
The application harnesses the facility of massive data to supply demand-led extension training to farmers. The analytics-based learning approach follows the ‘just-in-time learning’ model offering skills and techniques that transform the dairy management practices. It helps the farmers in calculating their costs and profits. The app maps the life cycle of every cattle owned by farmers, sends need-based alerts, offers learning video and tools, connects to local experts, and provides benchmarking stats among other features.
In order to make sure last-mile connectivity, each farmer was given Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) training also by the Village Level Entrepreneurs at the farmer’s doorstep.