Project SHARE (Sustainable Harvest - Agriculture, Resources, Environment)

 

The Need

With food prices increasing and food production down, India farmers needed access to better tools, technology and education to improve the country’s food security.  Currently, the Indian government estimates the population will hit 1.3 billion by 2017. With crop production rates where they currently are, the country could be left desperately short of the food needed to feed its people.

About Project SHARE

Project SHARE (Sustainable Harvest - Agriculture, Resources, Environment) was developed as a partnership between Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals (ISAP) and Monsanto. It was a five -year pilot project launched to improve the socioeconomic conditions of 16,050  small and marginal farmers from 1,050 villages across three states in India—Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan – by providing farmers with resources to increase the crop production. The goal of this program was to improve the lives of Indian farmers by giving them access to tools, technology and knowledge to help them increase cotton and corn crop yields and farm income.

About ISAP

Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals (ISAP) is a not-for-profit organization, with one of the largest networks of agriculture and allied sector professionals in India with an aim to foster and sustain resource development and livelihood enhancement for rural communities in five broad verticals ie Sustainable Agriculture Development, Water Management, Animal Husbandry, Skill Development & Rural Healthcare. ISAP has mobilized and benefitted more than 2,00,000 farmers through low cost agriculture technologies and agri-extension services. ISAP has a dedicated full time staff of more than 300 full time staff members across 25 field offices in more than 17 states.

Geography

Bundi, Bhilwara in Rajasthan; Adilabad, in Andhra Pradesh, &Amrawati in Maharashtra

Tenure

Nov 2009- June 2014

 

Interventions

Training

The Challenge: Small and marginal farmers are largely unaware of quality inputs, good agricultural practices and importance of aspects such as soil health, which have a profound impact on productivity

The Solution: Pre-sowing training focuses on appropriate cultivation practices for corn and cotton for maximum production. 

Aspects covered include:

  • Soil health and preparation
  • Integrated nutrient management
  • Input sourcing
  • Crop geometry ensuring appropriate spacing and adequate plant population
  • Water conservation
  • Pest management
  • Mechanized sowings with seed-cum-fertilizer drills
  • Intercropping with tomato, soybean and pulses such as red gram to effectively manage inadequate and uncertain rainfall

Pre- & Post-harvest training covers the period from flowering until harvest.

Aspects covered include:

  • Improving quality of harvest via good time and methods
  • Minimizing post-harvest losses and mitigating risk
  • Reduction in waste, storage, market intelligence and linkages
  • Better marketing options through buyer linkages/meets and possible aggregation at group level

Krishi Vigyan Kendras

SHARE farmers in Rajasthan got an exclusive opportunity to visit the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK)in Bundi and Kota. Exposure visits to State Agriculture Universities, progressive state-farmer initiatives and crop research centers in addition to progressive farmers’ fields are an integral part of the ‘seeing is believing’ approach.

SHARE seed cum fertilizer drill

The Challenge: Improper sowing was preventing farmers from receiving the maximum benefit of their seed. Farmers were used to planting corn seed mixed with fertilizer, using a bullock-drawn indigenous plough. This would tend to kill the germinating seed and result in fewer plants actually growing in the field. However, the biggest issue was planting too many seeds – excessive plant populations drained the soil of moisture and nutrients.

Solution: To address the issue, Monsanto India, ISAP and Project SHARE’s participating farmers took ownership, and through knowledge and financial sharing, the group developed the seed-cum-fertilizer drill. The seed-cum-fertilizer drill is a device that controls seed and fertilizer quantities to conform to ideal spacing recommendations. The drill contains a double-box seed drill with sections for seed and fertilizer -- this makes it possible to adjust seed and fertilizer rates individually, with the help of input adjuster. The double-box also allows farmers to plant multiple crops.

The development and adoption of the seed drill has enabled farmers to plant at appropriate seeding rates and separate the seed and fertilizer for efficient planting. Farmers have seen yield increases anywhere from two to six tons per hectare in one growing season. They’ve also seen better seed rates, meaning more seeds per hectare, which saves on inputs like fertilizer.

The machine, shared across villages, is instilling immense pride and sense of ownership. Those who are witnessing the results are now believers in innovation and the use of improved seeds and technology.

Water Harvesting Structures

There have been various water harvesting structures build that has helped rejuvenated the local eco-system. These include four dugout farm ponds & four anicuts built across the four locations of the project- Bundi, Bhilwara in Rajasthan; Amrawati in Maharashtra & Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh. Water conservation efforts under the project have proved to be extremely beneficial for the communities raising the ground water table and helped obtain drinking and irrigation water. The water harvesting structures have also helped recharge other water sources like wells which had dried up earlier. In addition to these, low cost micro irrigation units like two drain guns & two drip irrigation structures were introduced in the project geographies leading to increase in the irrigation potential, bringing more area under cultivation.

Impact

The project has improved the socio-economic condition of 16,050 small-marginal cotton and corn farmers across three States, of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra, within four years by increasing their crop productivity through access to :

  • higher-yielding seeds and agriculture inputs
  • training and education on best agronomic practices
  • formation of farmer groups to enable collective bargaining power
  • increased exposure to Krishi Vigyan Kendras, State Agriculture Universities
  • modern technology demonstration units
  • creation of self-help groups (SHGs) for beneficiary household women
  • Market linkages & Farmer Producer Organisation (FPOs).

Yield Improvement

In the project geographies, Corn production of project farmers Increased 59% and average yield of cotton increased by 36 % from the yield levels in 2009, when the project was initiated.

Farmer Producer Organisation & Skill Development

16, 050 farmers aggregated in 844 Farmer Interest Groups (FIGs), imparted training in good farming practices & further got together to form 16 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs)

Increasing household income

350 Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) have been formed and are engaged in viable enterprises such as poultry, goat rearing, vegetable cultivation, detergent making, among others. These women are supplementing household level income