Indian Agriculture sector continue to remain shabby for the economic growth of India. Although, the rising demand of food in domestic and global markets can create huge possibilities, small and declining land holding, price volatility, soil degradation and climate risks continue to trouble the farmers. Less opportunities and constraints to improve the agricultural sector also affects the farmers income, especially the small and marginal farmers. The overall development of agriculture needs to involve various service providers such as private agribusiness companies, NGO’s in dissemination of agricultural technologies with knowledge, skills, expertise and leveraging Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds.
Although, inadequate amount of CSR funds has been spent in the agricultural sector by the companies, there is a huge potential for investment in this sector. Companies can implement CSR project for agricultural development and income generation for farmers. Such investment will help the agriculture sector to improve and flourish. Major agricultural states in India are currently facing challenges in agricultural development.
Odisha like other states of the country is facing huge challenges related to water scarcity, soil degradation, productivity, rising costs of labour and energy. In a significant move, PI Foundation, a Trust supported by PI Industries Ltd, BSE and NSE listed leading Agri Input, Custom Synthesis and Manufacturing company, has collaborated with Fiinovation company, a research-based CSR consulting firm to carry out a CSR initiative. The primary agenda of the program is ‘Income Generation through Sustainable Agriculture’ for the farmers in Odisha. Keeping in mind the objective to improve the income level of the disadvantaged group of farmers, Fiinovation and PI Industries foundation developed a model in the year 2016 to promote sustainable agriculture in one of the backward tribal parts of the country in South Odisha. The sustainable agriculture practices entail the adoption and mainstreaming of the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) among the small and marginal farmers. The intervention is laying emphasis on agricultural practices that are cost-effective, sustainable and require lesser amount of water, energy resources and labour.
The CSR Activities aims to skill over 1300 farmers giving hands-on training on the working of seed drillers, sowing method, insect pest management, judicious use of farm inputs and other extended services over the next two years, thereby enabling agriculture on the sustainable lines of production in the Rayagada district of Odisha. The focus is also on product stewardship. The farmers are being provided with live demonstration on the field and effective boot camps are being organized to increase farmer participation. They are counselled on the working of seed drillers, sowing method, insect pest management, judicious use of farm inputs, product stewardship and other extended services.
Farmers of these villages are now adopting the sustainable practices of agriculture in their farming.The difference can be seen easily in control fields where the intervention had not happened before.
Fiinovation focuses on implementing effective intervention design and selection of the implementing partner. As a result, Harsha Foundation, a NGO ensuring livelihood security and improving the quality of life of the farmers by capacity building is running on ground program to provide hands-on training on different aspects of GAP(Good Agricultural Practices). This includes agronomy, plant protection, nutrient management, storages, sorting, forward market linkages.
Fiinovation plays a vital role in conducting monitoring & evaluation and impact assessment exercises on regular basis to ensure the success of the proposed CSR programme in farming. The next step is the distribution of inputs like fertilisers, pesticides, seeds & sacks through farmer interest group. So far, 6 training sessions have been conducted on seeds treatment training & POP. Also, 3 training sessions on seed replacement & seed treatment, Value addition and market linkages, have been conducted so far in the area to ensure a smooth functioning in the village. 45 Farmers Interest Groups (FIG) has also been formed.
In the month of July alone, all the 1300 farmers started consuming the vegetables in home and offered the same to their relatives. The surplus production are being sold in local & daily market. During the month, two road side market hub called “Green Market” inauguration was done at Bissamcuttack and Kalyansingpur block.
The overall observation in the area
It has been observed in the area that few of the farmers are still applying traditional practices for agriculture. The difference of traditional farming and farming through new techniques can easily be observed in the field. Through this initiative the farmers’ income through sale of produce has considerably increased. The female in the community have been able to make a better livelihood along with improved quality of life.
Agriculture remains as a crucial sector in Odisha’s economy, both in term of its contribution to State Domestic Product and employment, as more than 70% of the population (Directorate of Horticulture) depend on agriculture directly or indirectly for their sustenance. The targeted area, Rayagada district is mainly inhabited by the tribal population which is rainfall dependent, agriculture is the major source of livelihood and rains are quite unpredictable in the area. With projects like these, Fiinovation and Pi Industries aim to create sustainable social goals and income generation through CSR initiatives in the lives of the downtrodden farmers in such neglected areas. More corporates should come forward and plan interventions like these in other agriculture dominated areas of the country to the Agriculture sector to flourish.
By Ankita Singh( Sr. Content Executive at Fiinovation)