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  • Forestry
  • Land & Water Management
  • Sustainable Livelihood
  • Institution and Building

Forestry

JFM   |   IGDP    |    NEAC


Across the globe, forest is known to be of critical importance for habitats in terms of the biological diversity they contain and in terms of the ecological functions they serve. These ecological services of forests are similarly many. The ecosystem regulate the climate both at local and at global level, restructure the weather pattern and hydrological cycle, protects the very important watershed and the vegetation and water flow and the top soil. Scientists debate the linkages between biological diversity and ecological services. Those who believe in a strong link argue that any ecosystem, forests included, cannot cope with stresses and shocks if the diversity of the system has been reduced.

Development and protection of forest along with deriving economic benefits for the stakeholders in a sustainable manner has been one of the key areas of intervention for VIKSAT particularly in tribal areas of Gujarat. Activities like Joint Forestry Management (JFM), afforestation, social forestry, grassland development, nursery development etc, have been the means to address the same. The activities are carried out keeping in mind the ecological, economical and social well-being aspects of the communities.

VIKSAT undertook several initiatives to restore, manage and develop the forest resource. The critical factor in doing so is the approach that VIKSAT undertook in all these initiatives. The pro people approach which signifies the fact that people are the best managers and care takers of the resources made significant difference. The approach leads us to formation, strengthening and sustaining institutions’ of people while undertaking any activity. Some of the key intervention are listed below.

Joint Forest Management Programme


At VIKSAT, joint forest management is one of the largest thematic areas comprises a range of community interventions that affect whole of the forest association. This includes both its protection and affirmation of economic activities from them. Along the side, VIKSAT apprehends this association of the communities with forests and practises all its forest management activities while working closely with them. This widely acknowledged community forest management has demonstrated very well in all field areas where VIKSAT has worked, especially Bhiloda taluka of Sabarkantha district.

VIKSAT’s work on Joint Forest Management has been particularly in Bhiloda block in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat has been widely acknowledged by the community as well as its learning have been feeding into policy dialogues on JFM. At present there are 77 Tree Growers Cooperative Societies (TGCS) protecting around 7992 hectares of forest land. Out of the 77 TGCs 56 are registered under the cooperative society act which gives them an independent legal identity and formal recognition to assert their rights over the protected land.

Capacity Building of People’s Institutions - SAKSHAM

Sangathan Kshamata Manch (SAKSHAM) was formed in 1995 as an informal network of federations of PIs, registered as a Public Trust under the Bombay Public Trust Act 1950. SAKSHAM has representation from 12 taluka level federations across 9 districts out of 12 in Gujarat, with a total membership of 417 JFMCs and 47,510 members, out of which 35,550 are men and 11,960 are women. A total land of 53,209.91 hectares is under protection by its members. The federation has its specified objectives, which these members work for. These federations are involved in promoting forest protection and wasteland development activities. Also, SAKSHAM facilitates the policy advocacy issues on behalf of the village level JFM Committees.

To promote the activities of SAKSHAM federation, Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) funded the project titled ‘Capacity Building as a means of Self Reliance of SAKSHAM, representative body of People’s Institution under JFM activities in Gujarat’. The objectives of the project include following activities to:

• expand JFM activities within the State,
• support policy advocacy,
• outreach its concepts to the newer areas,
• include new federations under the SAKSHAM network, and
• enhance the capacity of SAKSHAM federation members and explore employment generation opportunities.

Activities to be carried under the project are exploratory visits, training programmes, preparing NTFP database, skilled training on entrepreneurship development, NTFP collection and process, GIS Application: digitalization, data linking & preparaing thematic map, quarterly review meeting and publishing newsletter.

Training to Institutionalise JFM

Rajasthan Forestry & Biodiversity Project (RFBP) was being implemented in 18 districts covering 26 forest divisions in Rajasthan with the financial aid of the Japan Bank for International Corporation (JBIC), Japan with an objective to restore ecological status of Aravallis, conserve biodiversity, check desertification, improve moisture regime and protect infrastructure. The project also aimed at providing fuel, fodder, timber and NTFPs along with employment generation in the rural areas.

The programme was designed to do training need analysis (TNA), design training modules and impart training for capacity building of different stakeholders and institutionalisation of JFM programme in Rajasthan.

a) Training Need Analysis

The study of TNA covered entire RFD staff including range officers, foresters/forest guards and cattle guards. Methodology for TNA included various activities, such as identifying the training need, designing of questionnaires for various cadres, mobilisation & orientation of survey team, field testing, data collection and data analysis.

b) Syllabus Development

On the basis of results of TNA, training syllabus was proposed for different stakeholders and the following training modules were developed:

• Training Module for Village Forest Protection and Management Committees (VFPMCs)
• Training Module for NGOs
• Training Module for Public Representatives (Panchayat & Sarpanch)
• Training Module for range forest officers, foresters, forest guards and cattle guards

c) Training Programmes

Training programmes were conducted for all the different cadres after consulting the Director, Forest Training Institute, Jaipur. The details of trainings conducted for different cadres are provided below:

Sr.
No.

Target group

Date

Training
duration

No. of participants

1

VFPMCs

December 4, 2007

1 day

34

2

NGOs

December 5, 2007

1 day

7

3

Public Representatives (Panch & Sarpanch)

December 18, 2007

1 day

10

4

Field staff of Forest Department

December 19 & 20, 2007

2 days

52



Integrated Grassland Development Program in Kachchh



VIKSAT’s approach of ecological development combining with economic gain for stakeholder in sustainable manner has led coordinating with Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology (GUIDE) and Forest Department for an Integrated Grassland Development Programme.

The programme is currently being operationalised in Khavda Pacham area which falls under the famous Banni grass land area located along the fringe of Rann of Kachchh. It is renowned for ecologically significant and naturally rich grasslands. Thanks to its huge pasturelands and rich vegetation, animal husbandry has been prospered in this area as principal source of income and provided secured livelihood for thousands of its native residents. However, due to open grazing, overexploitation of its resources like water for commercial purpose, ingression of salinity and various ecological reasons the productivity of grass land has persistently declined in the last few decades. These ecological changes have direct implication on the livelihoods of Banni population and consecutively would result further exploitation of the grasslands. In 12th Finance Commission, as declared by the Government of India, a decision was taken to revive the ruined grasslands across the country. In Gujarat, for revitalization of grassland with direct benefit to local community Forest Department and GUIDE as nodal agency have came out with participatory fodder plot development program.

The main objectives of the program are as under:

o To strengthen the traditional practices of conservation of Grassland
o To prevent the migration of Maldhari’s by developing fodder sources
o To develop and conserve the grassland and develop various varieties of grasses
o To protect and develop the environment by sustainable natural resource management
o To reduce salinity ingression of land through planned land management approach
o To create awareness for the conservation and development of Banni area

As a part of this program, Bhumi Sankalit Ghasiya Jamin Vikas Karyakram is being implemented by VIKSAT in 5 groups of 14 Panchayat villages. The key activities of the Program includes formation of grassland development committees (GDCs), building their capacities and developing grass plots with participatory approach ensuring community ownership, equity and sustainability.

Last year, the preliminary task of collection of primary data had been completed in all 13 project villages along with rapport building with local communities and informing them about the programme. This year, the project has moved ahead into implementation stage with grass plots being developed in two villages i.e. Bhojardo and Motidadar.

a. Bhojardo Grass Plot

In Bhojardo village, with people’s participatory approach, 100 ha, grass plot has been developed. With an investment of more than 12 Lakh rupees it is expected to have an output of around 60 tons of grass during the first year of harvest itself. The major activities carried out on the plot during this year are as under:

b. Motidadar Grass Plot

In Motidadadar village, 2 grass plot areas have been selected in collaboration with the local people and total 50 ha grass plots is planned to be developed in the village. There are various activities that are being planned and a detailed action plan has been prepared. An estimated budget has been prepared and approved by the Gramsabha and this has been awaiting approval from the district level. After the approval and sanction of the budget, work will be initiated and executed at the earliest to get the benefit of khariff season.

National Environment Awareness Campaign (NEAC)


Since last 24 years National Environment Awareness Campaign (NEAC) is being sponsored by Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), GoI for which VIKSAT is Regional Resource Agency (RRA) for Gujarat, Diu – Daman since 1986. This annual campaign conducted on the identified on the specific environmental theme every year. This was done so that participating organizations from all over the country can spread environmental awareness on a particular theme. Non – Governmental organizations, School, Colleges, Nature Clubs, Education and Training Institutions, actively involved in the field of environment education and awareness takes part in the campaign and spread awareness through various programs like seminar, workshops, rallies, padyatra, Jatha, competitions, street play, puppet show, meetings, folk media and folk dance.

The National Theme for the year 2009-10 is “CLIMATE CHANGE”. This included sub themes such as plantation programme, use of wind & solar energy, restore and maintain of water bodies, wetland conservation, role of community in biodiversity conservation, solid waste management of municipal, Biomedical and plastic waste.

Various organizations, schools, colleges, nature clubs applied to participate in the programme. In total 482 proposals were sanctioned by MoEF out of the 778 proposals received from the region. As a prelude to implementation, state level orientation workshop was organized for the participating organizations and the fund was released during the workshop.

The state level orientation workshop was held on January 19, 2010 and was inaugurated by Honourable Minister of State (Independent Charge) of MoEF, GoI, Shri Jairam Ramesh along with Shri S K Nanda IAS, Principal Secretary, Environment and Forests, GoG and Shri C L Meena, IAS Chairman Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) who were the guests of honour.

The Honb. Minister shared his concern about the kind of impact that will be reflected on stakeholder due climate change. He feared that 35 crores of our population residing in the eight coastal states would be affected the most due to rising sea level, again an effect of climate change. He was concerned over the decreasing snowfall in the Himalayan mountain range which would ultimately result into contraction of glaciers posing a threat to the very existence of the Himalayan Rivers. Shri Ramesh enlisted the causes of Climate Change such as increase in methane emissions, increase in carbon dioxide emissions, deforestation, mindless mining of natural resources for rapid industrialisation and development and excessive use of fossil fuels. However, he was of the opinion that public awareness would definitely help to resolve the problem. Addressing the representatives of various NGOs working for Environment Conservation, the Minister reaffirm on the need to undertake re-forestation drive in order to enhance the national forest cover as well as to lock excess Carbon Dioxide. Shri Ramesh assigned these representatives with the task to see that such Environment Conservation drive is undertaken in its true spirit.

Land & Water

WDP  |   Watershed plus   |   MISSAL   |   MARCH  | KMS  |  


Land and water as finite resources encounters sever pressure from a growing population as well as changes in consumption and production patterns due to un-sustainable development, urbanisation and industrialisation. These coupled together are resulting in rapid decrease in freshwater availability and production capability of the available land. The ever increasing demand for water and food possess the greatest challenges and the situation is getting alarming in the days to come. An integrated land and water resources management which compromise maintaining a balance as required for sustained availability of the resources. Declining land and water quality and increasing pollution exacerbates the need to address the causes not just for mitigation but for regeneration and restoration of the resource base. As one of its main thematic areas, VIKSAT takes up programmes under land and water management, which holds a key to sustainable livelihood for many in the rural regions. The special focus is on managing land and water resources through PIs. VIKSAT has been addressing common but grave problems of depletion of groundwater, droughts etc. through groundwater management, artificial recharge, RWH and adaptive strategies for drought.

Restoring, rejuvenation and recharging of the land and water both in terms of quality and quantity have been one of the most critical area for the organisation. The focus on land and water management in terms of watershed development, land development, improved agriculture practices, change of cropping pattern, providing irrigation support, adoption of new technology and knowledge has been the focus area. The current interventions are mentioned below.

WATERSHED DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

Watershed development is an important approach to improve the social and economic conditions of people living in resource starved semiarid regions covering approximately two-thirds of the country’s agricultural land. In addition to achieving biophysical objectives, contemporary watershed aims to promote the livelihoods of rural people, especially the poor and disadvantaged.

The process of watershed development includes harvesting rainwater wherever it falls, increasing green cover and adopting sustainable land husbandry practices in the watershed. It implies making bunds, digging trenches, building gully plugs etc in a way that will arrest the rapid flow of water from hill slopes to the ground. This is necessary because during the few days of rainfall, the tendency of water is to gush down the slopes and also take the top soil cover along with it. This means that there is no water conservation and precious fertile soil is lost too. When this flow is reduced or made to go through steps, water percolates into the ground at various spots and increases the underground water table. At the bottom of the hills, it collects to form water reservoirs. And while flowing down slowly it helps turn patches of land green.

From mid-eighties, development of dry-land agriculture on watershed basis has been a national strategy for sustained productivity and rational utilization of natural resources. The total resource can be properly developed only by adopting watershed approach. In terms of resource development, it covers development and management of resources like soil, water, vegetation and associated components. It essentially relates to soil and water conservation in the watershed which includes proper land use, protection of land against all forms of degradation, building and maintaining soil fertility, water harvesting and conservation and harvesting, proper management of surface and ground water, flood protection, sediment reduction, increasing productivity from land uses etc.

VIKSAT has been facilitating four of such projects in Poshina tribal belt of Khedbrahma block, Sabarkantha district and it is also implementing watershed plus project in all watershed development projects.

Cumulatively, about 3207.47 ha of the land have been treated under the watershed programmes. In the four watershed projects, ‘Shramdaan’ (contribution of voluntary labour) worth Rs. 26.60 Lakh has been done.

VIKSAT initiated watershed based intervention in 18 villages of the Poshina tribal belt of Khedbrahma block, Sabarkantha district with support from NABARD under its watershed development fund (WDF) and Indo German Watershed Development Programme (IGWDP) with financial supported by KFW, Germany.

Sembaliya watershed project

VIKSAT initiated watershed based interventions since February 2005 in tribal dominated villages namely Sembaliya, Dantiya, Delwada, Umbarva, Ambasar and Chhochhar known as Poshina belt in Khedbrahma block of Sabarkantha district, Gujarat and Nayavas village of Kotada block of Rajasthan. The patient and consistent efforts have resulted into completion of the several phases. The total geographical area of watershed is 1240 ha and 1458 families with a population around 8800. 

Under the Watershed Development Fund (WDF) programme of NABARD, watershed treatment measures like earthen bund, stone bund, continuous contour trenches (CCT), Water Absorption Tents (WAT), plantation on wasteland, sowing of grass seeds, grass seeding, gabion structures, nala plugging, earthen bunds with cement spillway, construction of waste weirs and check dams etc. have been undertaken in 1217.23 Ha of land was treated upto March 2015.

Navamota Watershed Project

VIKSAT also initiated watershed based interventions from February 2008 with support from Indo German Watershed Development Program (IGWDP) – National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) at Navamota and surrounding other six tribal dominated villages, namely Mahudi, Umbora, Bubadiya na Chhapra, Tebda, Tebdi and Kheroj having total geographical area of 1956.7 ha and 1285 families with a population around 9000. The delineated watershed area is 990.58 ha.

The ‘Navamota Juth Jalstrav Vistar Vikas Mandal’ a community organization formed with the facilitation by VIKSAT is now being empowered in the process of implementation of the watershed project.

The project has entered into the third year of the FIP spread over an area of 898.92 Ha. So far, watershed treatment measures have been undertaken in 734.85 Ha. land was treated upto March 2015.

Ratanpur Watershed Project

The Ratanpur watershed project intervention started from the year 2010 in five tribal dominated villages in Khedbrahma block of Sabarkantha district, Gujarat with support from NABARD under its Indo German Watershed Development Programme (IGWDP) and financial supported by KFW, Germany. The Ratanpur watershed project is having total geographical area of 1576.99 ha and covering 1233 families with a population of 7667. The delineated watershed area is 1073.26 Ha.

The Ratanpur watershed project interventions started from the year 2010. In the Capacity Building Phase (CBP), 88.37 Ha of land has been treated under the project area. The Full Implementation Phase (FIP) was sanctioned in June after the work season. The project is currently in first year of the FIP spread over three years covering watershed area of 1073.26 Ha. So far, treatment measures have been undertaken in 463.33 Ha of land was treated upto March 2015.

Matarwada Watershed Project

The Matarwada project intervention started from the year 2011 in four  tribal dominated villages in Khedbrahma block of Sabarkantha district, Gujarat with support from NABARD under IGWDP programme and financial supported by KFW, Germany. The Matarwada watershed project is having total geographical area of 2436.40 ha and covering 1219 families with a population 7235. The delineated watershed area is 1164.63 Ha.

The Matarwada watershed project interventions started from the year 2011. In the Capacity Building Phase (CBP), 98.65 Ha of land has been treated under the project area. The Full Implementation Phase (FIP) was sanctioned in June after the work season. The project is currently in first year of the FIP spread over three years covering watershed area of 1164.63 Ha. So far, treatment measures have been undertaken in 455.14 Ha of land was treated upto March 2015.

WATERSHED PLUS: ENHANCING LIVELIHOOD RESILIENCE OF THE TRIBAL COMMUNITIES (Phase-I)

 While technical interventions like soil and water conservation and water resource development is a key to watershed projects, over the years it has been realized that forward linkages for input supply and extension activities also need to be promoted for the required translation of the benefits of watershed projects into generation of additional income. This felt need transformed into an additional component of the watershed project is termed as ‘Watershed Plus’.

VIKSAT initiated watershed plus interventions since April 2009 in tribal dominated villages of Sembaliya watershed project in Poshina tribal belt of Khedbrahma block of Sabarkantha district, Gujarat with support from Sir Ratan Tata Trust (SRTT). The major aim of this project was to enhancing livelihood resilience and improving quality of life of 1,025 families (6,179 individuals) in six tribal dominated villages of Khedbrahma taluka of Sabarkantha district. The patient and consistent efforts have resulted into completion of the first phase of project in March 2013.

VIKSAT undertook crop demonstration, introducing new varieties of crops, seed kit distribution, capacity building of farmers around good agricultural practices and augmenting of the physical asset base like well deepening, strengthening, pipelines and engine support for irrigation and drip irrigation infrastructure of the farmers. This led to significant improvement in the socio economic condition of the farmers by generating awareness amongst the people about the importance of improved agricultural practices alongside management of NRM and yielding direct impact on the income of the farmers. 

Under the first phase of SRTT, the most important work done was the capacity building of farmers around good agricultural practices and creating physical assets around agriculture. The work had been on augmenting the farmer’s knowledge on package of practices of major crops that would help them to realize the potential from the activity they engage with. The training programmes has helped in knowledge transfer to farmers on improved package of practices and this also had its influence on increasing agricultural yield. The scale of demonstration was the highest in case of Maize under a KMS (Kharif Maize Stabilization) programme. The efforts were made under KMS to ensure that households in the area get covered. The programme will have far reaching returns.

The programme that carried out the linkage between land resource stabilization (through Soil and Water Conservation) and agriculture development was the augmenting of the physical asset base of the farmers. This programme was received very well by the farmers.

With the completion of the first phase of the project, following are the important learnings gained from the interaction with the community while implementing the activities.

Lessons learnt:

Consistent Capacity Building:

 Gradual and consistent capacity building by increasing the participation of people in village development activities is critical for long term sustainability of the same. The project area is predominantly tribal population. The literacy rate of tribal area (37.79%) is half way as compare to Gujarat state (78.03%) in census 2011. Illiteracy rates being high, the acceptance of informal means of training through meetings and exposure visits, video show and by organising awareness programmes are more effective.

In first phase project, the major emphasis given on orientation meeting, awareness meeting, Training, exposure (102) and field days (13) programmes has resulted in helping the farmers adopt improved varieties of seeds and thereafter understand and follow the PoPs recommended for improved agriculture.

Replication Agriculture PoP:

 Imparting knowledge about agricultural PoP through demonstrations and organizing field days have proved to be very effective tools for wider dissemination of improved agriculture. In first phase, the number of crop demonstration was very limited so the impact and awareness among the community is less but effective. The demonstration of new crops and improved seed helps farmers to improve standard of living and replication of these crops and seed use shows very impressive results.

Crop demonstration was taken up on maize (416), castor (19), cotton (21), Green gram (19), pigeon pea (25), ground nut (06) and brinjal crop (3) by VIKSAT in six villages under first phase programme. Inspired by the results of crop demonstrations, other farmers adopted PoPs and thus crop replication took place in 94 acres of land. 183 farmers grew Cotton MRCH variety in 34 acres, Castor GCH 5 and 7 in 15 acres and Wheat GW 366 in 45 acres.

Creation of Irrigated area:

Availability of assured irrigation facility is an important pre-requisite for sustainable development in agriculture sector. Cultivators are eager to take advantage of irrigation facilities like digging of new well, well deepening, group machinery etc thereby utilising the irrigation potentiality of their limited land resources.

In first phase of project, the programme of irrigation resource development was the augmenting of the Physical asset base of the farmers. This included well deepening, pipelines and engine support for irrigation and drip Irrigation infrastructure. This programme was very well received by the farmers.

The impact of Irrigation development activities:

  • Increase in area under cropping. The farmers who were only doing a single crop during the monsoon months are now able to expand the area under the second crop.
  • Increased food security to households: The proportion of land under food crops increased from 2 hectares to 6.7 hectares. Similarly pulses had shown an additional 0.8 hectares under green gram. Cotton seed plots had shown an increase from 0.2 hectares to 0.8 hectares and cotton crop from none to 1.4 hectares.
  • Increase in Land Use pattern: There is increase in the land use pattern as a result of SWC work. With the increase in the water availability for irrigation in wells there is an increase in area under agriculture during all the three seasons. : Kharif, Rabi and summer. The area under two crops i.e. Kharif and Rabi season, long duration crop and three crops i.e. crops during Kharif, Rabi and summer season has increased by 19.9%, 144.2% and 11.78% respectively, thereby increasing the vegetation cover by increasing the cropping intensity from 174.1% to 187.9%, in private landholdings. 
  • Increased and assured income: The investment that farmers have made in deepening their wells is around Rs. 48000. The area irrigated has increased by almost 4.5 times. The cost per hectare from the farmers’ side is around Rs. 63800 only. So for every rupee spent by farmers the income is around Rs. 1.55 which is enough as far as return can be expected.

Adoption of Improved Agriculture:

People of area are now exhibiting a preference for mix cropping pattern as compared to single cropping.  Participation in farmer training, on-site hand holding support by the field staff, sharing of experiences has led to increased acceptance of the emerging agricultural practices. 

The focused group discussion survey revealed that awareness in agriculture POP of cotton seed plot (79%), cotton (68%) maize (62%) and castor (61%) is fairly good due to handholding support under first phase programme. The awareness on agriculture PoP in wheat (38%) and pigeon pea (51%) is respectively low.

The survey showed that the awareness regarding PoP of Maize crop is fairly good as compare to other crops due to intensive support under KMS programme from 11-12 and 12-13.

Institution Building…A stepping stone:

Peoples’ Participation: The core strategy in the sustainable development and management of natural resources is people’s participation. Cross cutting all the thematic areas of interventions, nurturing and capacitating the People’s Institutions is the fulcrum around which the programme planning, monitoring, strategizing and implementation of activities occur. The participation of the PIs through involvement in project planning, implementation and monitoring has helped in greater acceptance and replicability of the activities. It has also helped in increasing community participation in the programme thereby making the activities responsive to the local felt needs.

During these five years of interactions with the community, VIKSAT has created three distinct forms of institutional like SHGs (62), Farmer clubs (14), VWC (4) and SHGs federation/cluster (3) as part of its institutional development efforts. VIKSAT has recently created AART as a pan institution of project area as well.

Shifting to cash crops:

With assured irrigation facilities, land development and increased awareness about improved agriculture practices, people of area are now shifting to growing more cash crops like castor, cotton and cotton seed plots.

The farmers in the villages prefer growing Maize. This being the cereal in their food basket, they would certainly use the land to grow maize. Maize is often grown in combination with other crops – Black gram and Pigeon Pea (both Lentils). Due to additional irrigation, farmers have started cultivating cash crops like cotton (73%), wheat (20%) and green gram (12%). There is an increase in growing wheat crop as subsistence food and maize in summer. Earlier due to lack of irrigation, maize was grown in Kharif season only. 

Reluctance to adopt vegetable cultivation:

In the project area, there is potential of vegetable cultivation but people are not willing to cultivate vegetable crops on commercial basis due to lack of awareness, knowledge and facility of market linkage.

In project area, the vegetable cultivation with drip irrigation was started with few farmers with John Deere Foundation support. The income from growing vegetables is gradually replacing growing of green gram during summer also shows that the farmers together have benefited in terms of additional income. The income has risen by almost 4 times from Rs. 11000 previously to Rs. 43900 after the intervention. From the experience and impact of vegetable cultivation with drip irrigation, the vegetable cultivation is proposed in the project.

Capacities of the staff:

Staff development programme is needed for better implementation of the programme aligning the activities with concrete and long term planning for the area. The project area is very remote. It is difficult to recruit people who can undertake such activities. Due to low literacy level in the local area, it is not possible to find highly qualified people amongst the tribal youth. The local resources are generally involved as village extension worker. 

For implementing the project, it is important to give the technical training (PoPs of different crops, vegetable cultivation, watershed etc.) to the program staff. This will help to improve the quality of implementation and strengthen the role of individual in the programme. The training programme on managerial skill, institutional development, leadership and management can be arranged.

MISSAL (Micro Irrigation System for Sustainable Agricultural Livelihoods):

VIKSAT initiated Micro Irrigation interventions since April 2010 in eighteen tribal dominated villages of Poshina tribal belt of Khedbrahma block of Sabarkantha district, Gujarat with support from John Deere Foundation (JDF). The major aim of this project is enhancing livelihood resilience of the tribal communities through MIS promotion and improving quality of life of 110 groups of farmer’s families (around 350 household). The patient and consistent efforts have resulted into completion of the pilot phase of project.

In 2010-11, a pilot was undertaken wherein three systems were installed by a group of ten farmers. Following the successful implementation of the pilot, total 7 MIS were installed in 6.05 ha land area and covering 20 farmers under drip irrigation system the scope of the project was expanded to cover 20 farmers collectively participating in installation of drip irrigation systems. 

The project has entered into the fourth year, 32 Drip irrigation systems have been installed in 29.57 Ha. land in which 84 farmers covered upto March 2015.

MARCH (Multipurpose Agriculture Resource Center for Holistic development)

VIKSAT initiated Aravali Agriculture Resource and Training (AART) Centre interventions under MARCH project since April 2012 in tribal dominated villages of Poshina tribal belt of Khedbrahma block of Sabarkantha district, Gujarat with support from John Deere Foundation (JDF). The major aim of this project is to enhancing productivity, food security and income through sustainable use of natural resources by making commercial and specialized services available to more than 4000 households of surrounding twenty plus villages of poshina tribal belt.

The main activities carried out by VIKSAT under the project include Capacity building and empowerment of individuals / people’s institutions, Provide door step agriculture equipments/technical services and Provide door step agriculture credit services.

AART Center has been started that would fill the gap of continuous scientific interventions and accessibility of the farmers for agriculture related knowledge in the surrounding twenty plus villages.

MARCH further aims to provide a large number of promotional and extension activities and  services such as exposure, demonstration models, trainings, IEC material, comparative benefit analysis of products and services, educational workshops etc at a token or an affordable contribution.  The Center will also purchase low cost equipments, seeds, fertilizers etc on large scale for selling to farmers at a reasonable price. This will ensure that farmers receive good quality of equipments and other inputs in time and at reasonable price. The Center will provide trainings and facilitate farmers’ interactions with Agriculture and Animal Husbandry scientists. It will also work as a useful linkage between government and the people so that tribal community can take best advantage of the government schemes promoted for their development and welfare.

Under MARCH project, AART centre started two centres at Delwada and Kheroj for providing input to farmers at reasonable price. The centres have started the activity of Agriculture awareness is increased among farmers, Technical guidance to 1169 farmers on various aspect of crops,  providing inputs (seed like Maize, wheat, Guar, Bajri, Green gram and vegetable (Chilly, Brinjal, Tomato, Onion, Okra, Cluster bean, Insecticide and pesticide and arrange fertilizer) to cumulatively 4438 farmers from villages of project area at reasonable rate. The agriculture expenses have been reduced cumulatively of Rs. 291787 as compare to local vendor till March 2015. AART centre provided saplings and seed of vegetable cultivation to more than 225 farmers under Kharif season- Chilly and Brinjal; Rabi-Onion and Summer- Cluster bean, Okra and Chilly to farmers who have cultivated more than 37 acre area under the vegetable cultivation. The impact of awareness created by AART centre shows result in the project area and farmers have raised demand for seeds and taking the benefits of activities of AART centre.

MARCH has been started catalytic role for easy access to market information at door step and fill the missing gaps to provide on time delivery of required services and inputs

KMS (Kharif Maize Stabilization programme):

Approximately 90% of Maize in India, is grown in Kharif. In India, area, production and productivity of maize are 81.20 lakh ha, 197.0 m. tones and 2435 kg/ha. Maize Productivity in India is far below the world average i.e. 2780 Kg/ha. The yield of Maize in Tribal areas is further lower up to 1225 Kg/ha and a large number of families could secure only 5 to 6 months staple maize diet from their farms.

VIKSAT initiated KMS programme since April 2011 in twelve tribal dominated villages of Poshina tribal belt of Khedbrahma block of Sabarkantha district, Gujarat with support from Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI). The major aim of this project is transform scientific agriculture practices in area and achieve food and seed security at household level through increased and stabilized crop production.

Sustainable Livelihood

NRM   |   RFM   |  


A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets, and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base.

A sustainable livelihoods approach is a holistic method of addressing development issues that centres the discussion on people's livelihoods. Sustainable livelihoods is a chameleon-like concept that can serve many functions: it is at once an established development objective, an analytical tool used to understand the factors influencing a community's ability to enhance their livelihoods, and a method of eradicating poverty

Underlying the sustainable livelihoods approach is the theory that people draw on a range of capital assets or poverty reducing factors to further their livelihood objectives. Assets are categorized as social, human, natural, physical, financial, and political, and may serve as both inputs and outcomes. Various vulnerability factors over which people have little or no control (such as environmental disasters and political unrest) impact the assets. Assets are also filtered through policies, institutions, and processes that determine the degree to which the people's livelihood objectives are realized. The model that VIKSAT adopted for sustaining livelihood base of the stakeholder was through livelihood financing. As an organisation we understand that it is important to make people partner in growth and that is only possible when they contribute equally not depend on the grants alone.

VIKSAT has taken up a new project under livelihood domain titled “Promoting Sustainable Natural Resource Management through People’s Institutions” under larger “Umbrella Programme for Natural Resource Management” (UPNRM) being executed by NABARD. The programme aims to develop alternative financing solutions and to institutionalize community-based public private partnership (PPP) approaches for the natural resource sector for sustainable livelihood generation. UPNRM is an approach to support financially viable models for productive resource management and also to facilitate private sector involvement in a partnership mode for the implementation of public investment Programs for rural areas.

Promoting Sustainable NRM through People’s Institutions


The programme aims to develop alternative financing solutions and to institutionalize community-based public private partnership (PPP) approaches for the natural resource sector. UPNRM is an approach to support financially viable models for productive resource management and also to facilitate private sector involvement in a partnership mode for the implementation of public investment programmes for rural areas.

The initiative aims to extend tangible economic benefits of natural resource management through entrepreneurial utilization of the resources and thereby fostering poverty alleviation and growth of rural economy.

The broad objectives of the project are:

• To enable village level institutions to cater to the short-term and medium term credit needs of activities relating to natural resource management sector undertaken by rural poor, in general and SC/STs in particular.
• To facilitate higher income and increased economic benefits for participating rural households from management of activities relating to natural resources.

The project has two major components; community capacity building to manage NRM based livelihood sources and to provide finance for income generation activities to be taken up by communities. The project is being implemented through SHGs as a strategic partner as well as viable financial institution at village level. All financial services under the project would be routed through the SHGs and they have a crucial role to play in managing the services under the project. The financial service covers loan for NRM based livelihood sources, life and asset insurance for borrowers.

Management Information System

A MIS programme has been developed which is to be operated at two stages, both at field and head office level. Formats are developed for collection of data at the SHG level and at borrower level which would be fed into computers at field offices. The MIS provides a robust platform for quick service delivery and effective management.

Staff Training

One project launching cum orientation consultation was organized for all the VIKSAT staff to share different aspects of the project and to clear the role and responsibilities at different levels including administration and account department. Another participatory training was organized for technical understanding on project components and operating system. Apart from this staff members are also oriented on key technical matters that include legal modalities, MIS, project management system, accounting procedures, trainings to be imparted at field level, documentation of the outcomes and execution strategy.

Project orientation meetings with SHGs

A series of project orientation meetings were organized with SHGs in the project area. In these meetings SHGs were provided with detail information on the categorisation of the loans, insurance, eligibility criteria, legal and financial requirements, project operating system and different kind of skill enhancement programmes to be undertaken as integral part of the project.

Sustainable Nutrition Education Health and Livelihood (SNEHAL) Programme

VIKSAT partnered with CARE, Gujarat as an implementation support agency for SNEHAL programme with the aim to strengthen the livelihood options for the rural poor in the Santalpur block. In the ambit of the larger initiative, VIKSAT worked towards strengthening community level institutions in six villages namely Varnosari, Patanka, Daldi, Bavarada, Bamroli, Manpura and Charanka of Santalpur block in Patan district. The project period was from 2006 to 2009.

However owing to internal adjustments and restructuring, resource support for the project could not be continued for the entire period as committed. However, VIKSAT continued the initiatives to a logical conclusion and has taken up many activities that were started under the project and especially the activities with SHGs and farmers.

Under SNEHAL program a total of 22 SHGs have been formed and strengthened. The SHGs cohesively working towards encourage the women community to do the savings and credit activities, so as to make them self-dependent, improve their current livelihood and strengthen themselves socially. The other distinct outcomes are easy access to financial resources, grading, linkage with resource agencies and leadership quality.

A remarkable shift in demand and use of intra loan has been experienced with progress of time among the SHG members. The major loan demands this year includes mainly purchasing of seeds and fertilizers for agriculture, medicines, purchasing food grain, carrying out income generation activities in smaller scale, educational expenses for children and acquiring household assets; while loan sanctioned for social and cultural ceremonies has reduced to a large extent.

Revolving Fund Management



Revolving fund from Sir Dorrabji Tata Trust (SDTT), Mumbai

In the year 2004-05 VIKSAT facilitated a revolving fund from SDTT, Mumbai for the PIs and block level federations of Satlasana and Bhiloda block. This fund was aimed at meeting various financial needs of the institutions and also to initiate various developmental activities beyond a project framework. For better and effective management of the fund, a Revolving Fund Management Committee (RFMC) was formed. The meeting of the committee held every quarter which looks after the request made, feasibility and viability of the initiative proposed. Till date, the cumulative loan of Rs. 30.82 Lakh has been disbursed among four federations of Bhiloda and Satlasana blocks.

Revolving Fund – VIKSAT

Apart from intra loans, VIKSAT also runs a Revolving Loan fund for the SHGs. However, use of the fund is decided with participatory way with regular meetings between VIKSAT and SHGs. In this year, many regular meetings were carried out and crucial points of actions were discussed for strengthening the SHGs. Below is the table that indicates the performance of the revolving fund.

Revolving Fund from M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)

With support from MSSRF, Chennai a grant under revolving fund of Rs.10 lakhs was given to the SHGs of Kachchh district. The members of these SHGs have undertaken micro enterprises like manufacturing washing powder, embroidery & stitching, bandhani work, weaving, pottery work, animal rearing, sale of vegetables, spices, cloths etc. For these enterprises loans are granted top the members with no interest since 2003. Till now, 29 SHGs in 14 villages have been benefited and from Rs. 10 lakh this has increased to Rs.21.19 Lakhs and is currently in operation too. Up to the last financial year, out of the total amount Rs.16 lakhs have been refunded by the members. The activities undertaken and the profits generated have made these women self-reliant, and also enabled them to return the loan in time.

Institution and Capacity Building

Comu. Dev.   |   BRGF    |    MGNREGA    |    SHG


Nurturing, managing and building capacity of the institutions in general and peoples’ institution in particular has been the core approach of VIKSAT from beginning. We believe that the quality the institutions formed by the organisation does matter a lot for its’ growth and development.

Over the last 34 years, VIKSAT has worked at grassroots level with communities in their local regions towards developing models which ensure sustainability of livelihoods through natural resource management. To enhance meaningful participation in natural resources management, VIKSAT has been working towards imparting skills related to institution building, resource generation, management and other support.

Community Development through People’s Institutions


People’s Institutions

VIKSAT strongly believes that development of People’s Institutions is essential for the sustainability of any programme and the same reflects in its efforts under every programme and so in NRM or livelihood activities too. VIKSAT has thus been promoting and supporting a number of PIs in 4 regions of Gujarat. With continuous efforts for the capacity building of these institutions, they have acquired the ability to function independently with minimum effort from outside.
These PIs are formed with the objective of empowering local communities on NRM and to enable them for equitable and sustainable use of resources for their own economic development. In current situation, majority of the community members in the intervention area have gained the capability to identify their needs, plan, financial management and conflict resolution.
VIKSAT has by now formed 943 PIs at village level including TGCSs, SHGs and Pani Samitis in Bhiloda and Khedbrahma (Sabarkantha district), Satlasana (Mehsana District), Santalpur (Patan district) and Bhuj (Kachchh district) regions of the Gujarat State. This has touched the lives of 24,609 people directly. Over a period, these institutions gained knowledge and capabilities to handle the issues of natural resource management at a larger scale and this has resulted in the formation of four block level federations extending the reach of local TGCSs and SHGs. Two state level institutions have also been formed, namely Sangathan Kshamata Manch (SAKSHAM) for Joint Forest Management Committees.

Nurturing and managing SHGs

With the support from NABARD, Gujarat promotion, management and linkages to resource agencies of 250 SHGs in Mehsana, Patan, Sabarkantha & Kachchh districts was initiated. The 3 year project was started from 2007.
The main objective of this project is to empower the women members of the community through exposure, access to financial resources through linkage and sharing of knowledge and experience. The aim was also to provide a platform where mutual sharing of knowledge and experience can happen which will promote peer learning. Since this also fulfils the mission of VIKSAT in regard to strengthening of People’s Institutions with active participation of men and women from all sections of the community for equitable and gender sensitive, development and management of natural resources the project is getting implemented. Activities carried out under the project include:

• Formation of SHGs
• Opening of bank account
• Saving & credit activity
• Intra loan within group
• Grading of SHGs
• Bank credit linkages
• Capacity building in the domain of leadership, decision making, maintaining books & accounts, networking and micro enterprise Formation of People’s Institutions [PIs] - Bhuj
People’s Institutions being a strategic approach of VIKSAT for project execution, the Banni Pashu Ucherak Maldhari Sangathan was formed and registered under the trust act, keeping the sustainable impact and transition policy of the organisation in mind. Currently efforts are being made to build the capacities of the sangathan to take up the ownership of the project and mobilize self-initiated actions which are also beyond the scope of the project. Members are encouraged to meet regularly, discuss and plan out the activities which are being implemented under this project for effective outputs. Regular trainings and consultations with the members is also being carried out. The sangathan is being guided in such a way that it would be capable of handle this program independently after completion of the project.

Formation of Farmer’s Clubs

Farmer’s clubs are grass root level informal forums with the support and financial assistance of NABARD for the mutual benefit of the banks concerned and rural people. The emerging trend in agriculture sector is adoption of location specific skill and knowledge based technologies along with promoting greater value addition to agriculture produce, forge new partnerships between public institutions, technology users and the corporate sector and harness IT more effectively to realize financial sustainability and compete in the international market.
Farmer’s club are serves as an institution with an objective of transferring of technology, improving input, use efficiency, promoting investments in agriculture thus create a favourable and enabling economic environment. They are also useful for transmitting the latest agriculture techniques to the farmers’, orienting them to establish better relationship with banks, adoption of latest post-harvest handling technology, value addition, etc. In addition the formation of the clubs also help the members enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining power both for procuring inputs and for marketing. With the financial assistance from NABARD, VIKSAT has formulated 37 farmer’s clubs in its field areas.

Development Planning and Assessment


District Perspective Plans under Backward Region Grant Fund

Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) is a scheme launched by the Government of India (GoI) to support 250 most backward districts of the country with an untied grant to fill up the critical gaps uncovered under other fund resources with the aim to address backwardness of the district.
The planning process under BRGF calls for ‘bottom to top’ planning. The planning units are local government bodies, namely Gram Panchayats i.e. Rural Local Bodies (RLBs) and Municipalities i.e. Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). The final district plan is prepared by the district planning committee combining the plans received from RLBs and ULBs.
VIKSAT provided technical guidance to 4 districts of Gujarat for preparation of the district development perspective plan and annual action plan through a participatory approach the elected members and officials of the RLBs and ULBs and compiled the final perspective plan (2009-12) and annual action plans for F.Y. 2009-10 and 2010-11. The district wise details are given below.
Sabarkantha

During this reporting period, VIKSAT prepared the Sabarkantha District Action plan 2010-11. The plan covered 1374 villages, 719 RLBs & 8 ULBs from all 13 blocks of the district. Subsequently the plan has been approved by both the district planning committee & state level high power committee formed for this purpose.

Banaskantha

VIKSAT was invited by the DRDA, Banaskantha to provide technical support in the preparation of District Development Perspective Plan 2009 -12 and District Action Plans for the years 2009-10 and 2010-11. The process covered 1244 villages, 783 RLBs and 6 ULBs from 12 blocks. The plan was submitted to the concerned authorities and has been sanctioned.

Dang

The DRDA Dangs has approached VIKSAT to edit the district development perspective plan 2009-12 and annual action plan 2009-10 as prepared by DRDA, Dang. VIKSAT rendered technical support for editing of these plans. The plan covered all 311 villages, 70 RLBs of Ahwa block. The final plan has been submitted to the district and approved by the committee both at district and state level.

Narmada

As a technical support institute VIKSAT first facilitated the processes of preparing BRGF plan for the year of 2010-2011 among the line departments and representatives of all the three tiers of Panchayat (village, block and district) and later document the same. The District Plan was uploaded on the Plan Plus site.

Monitoring and Streamlining of MGNREGA convergence


Development of convergence resource envelop for model village

The District Planning Committee (DPC) of Narmada district has selected 40 villages (10 villages in each of the four blocks) to convert them into model villages. A model village refers to a village that has all up-graded facilities for health, education, infrastructure, livelihood, water and sanitation. This exercise was carried out in three phases. In the first phase, a series of needs assessment and community interaction activities were administered at all the three levels of Panchayat and a data base of needs, demands and aspirations was created.
In the second phase, a team from VIKSAT visited all the 40 potential model villages to verify and confirm the respective components of the villages as given in the data base. Needs were examined, demands were questioned and aspirations made more contextual. The resulting entity was a more realistic and contextual data base. The third phase will be the utilization of the local natural resource base to the optimal advantage of the populace, in consultation with data base. Our efforts in this regard is to work towards evolving a model village, in scenarios typifying regions like Narmada district and elaborate the same to serve to others as a model in terms of (a) the quality of basic services available (b) the access of the populace to the available resource base (natural, financial and human) and (c) the equity it entails in reaching the fruits of development processes to the community.
For each of the emerging activity we have planned to use available funds from all sources and utilize the BRGF fund to fill in all the gaps, leading to the creation of village level convergence resource envelope.
Apart from this VIKSAT has also done research study that entails monitoring and streamlining the convergence of MGNREGA in other 4 districts of Gujarat i.e. Banaskantha, Dang, Kachchh and Sabarkantha.
The main objective of the study will be to review convergence work and analyze outcome of convergence work, with the following issues for consideration.
o Review of convergence plan/s and field realities
o Durability of assets, output and outcome of convergence
o Impact of convergence
o Major bottlenecks of convergence at all level
o Quantification of outcomes and value addition of MNREGA work
o Major lacuna in convergence
o Future scenarios

Capacity Building Services for SHGs


Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had funded for Gujarat Forestry Development Project Phase –II. Under this project the SHGs were formed by Sabarkantha Forest Division. Gujarat Forest Department gave the consultancy to the VIKSAT for holding the training for the Capacity Building of the SHGs. VIKSAT organized 10 Trainings in four forest range of Sabarkantha Social Forestry Division. Detail is as follows:

Risk Assessment for MCIs

VIKSAT has extended its expert service to Risk Management Solution (RMS), California, USA in carrying out a catastrophe risk mange assessment in Gujarat. The company offers technology and services for the management of insurance catastrophe risk associated with natural perils such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and windstorms, as well as products for weather derivatives and enterprise risk management. RMS helps organizations to design and promote risk reduction and mitigation strategies, emphasizing the need for positive risk reduction and mitigation actions before disaster strikes, as well as alternative means of financing and managing risk. RMS has carried out a Catastrophe Risk Assessments in two states in pilot basis in India, i.e. Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. For Gujarat VIKSAT was the resource agency and the risk assessment study covered more than one hundred micro credit operating organizations, banks and non banking financial companies (NBFCs).

Community Needs Assessment

Adani Power Maharshtra Ltd appointed VIKSAT as a resource agency for carrying out a community need assessment study for its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in the villages that are located near the power plant that is under construction. Intensive fieldworks were undertaken in 14 villages and under service areas of Tiroda Municipal board. A comprehensive assessment report, a road map and a brief village action plan was submitted as part of the assignment.