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.
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:
No. of participants
December 4, 2007
December 5, 2007
Public Representatives (Panch & Sarpanch)
December 18, 2007
Field staff of Forest Department
December 19 & 20, 2007
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.
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.
Due to the rapid advance of ravines in the state, the effect is felt not just on the environment but also on its socio-economic structures. It is estimated that about 0.4 million hectares of cultivated table-land in Gujarat has turned into deep gullies and it is still expanding. The ravines are narrow, steep sided valleys created by the high velocity of run-off water. Overgrazing and removal of vegetation leads to development of wasteland which can then turn into ravines if a severe run-off takes place. Ravines not only deplete the goods and services like food, fuel wood, fiber and water resources but lead to loss of arable land in turn leading to loss of livelihoods of the farmers with small land holdings.
With the objective of stabilization of highly degraded and ravinous lands by checking the further spread of ravine and preventing damage to the valuable tablelands, a project “Enhancing Livelihood Options of Small and Marginal Farmers Through Development and Management of Ravine Lands” was initiated with assistance from Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Small Grants Programme (SGP) in 2009. The project encompassed the villages of Kubda, Vansda and Nana Kothasana of Satlasana Taluka Dist: Mehsana, thereby bringing a total 67 Ha of degraded land, associated village communities and local institutions under its ambit.
Intervention during the project period was primarily aimed at working towards restoration and stabilization of ravines through appropriate soil and water conservation measures and improved vegetative cover. The prime strategy was to strengthen the tenure arrangements and village institutions in the form of TGCS to improve the governance of natural resources and ensure stabilization of the ravine lands. The major focus areas of the project were capacity building and soil and moisture conservation.
To increase the vegetative cover, a plantation of 404 kg of grasses was undertaken in the project area. The soil of the project villages is sandy and thus to prevent the seed from being blown away, the seeds were distributed in the form of seed pellets. The seed pellets are made by encasing them in a mixture of clay, compost and water. The mixture is then rolled into small round balls and left in the sun to dry for a day or two. The pellets were dropped in the peripheral area of gully plugs, earthen bund & trenches of the project area so as to increase the vegetative cover.
NATIONAL AGRICULTURE INNOVATION PROJECT (2008-2012)
The objective of NAIP is to facilitate an accelerated and sustainable transformation of the Indian agriculture support poverty alleviation and income generation. The approach was collaborative development and application of agricultural innovations by the public organizations in the partnership with the farmers group, the private sector and other stakeholders.
Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) sanctioned two projects under
two schemes namely a) Integrated Project for Research on Development Process and
Sustainability of Livelihood in selected disadvantage district of Gujarat State
b) Business value chain in seed spice under the National Agriculture Innovation
Program component II & III. Both the projects are currently implemented in
collaboration of VIKSAT and Sardarkrushinagar Dantiwada Agriculture University (SDAU),
NAIP Component – II - A value chain in major seed spices for Domestic and Export Promotion.
The objective of the component II is to create a Production to Consumption System (PCS) (“a value chain” system in popular parlance) which involves the entire set of actors, materials, activities, technologies, services, and institutions involved from the stage of supply of inputs to harvesting of a particular commodity, transforming it into a usable product, storing and marketing the final product. It also aims at maintaining quality and confirmation to the standards with respect to American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), Environmental Services Association (ESA), and International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
In collaboration with SDAU, VIKSAT has undertaken activities like seed
multiplication and distribution for large scale cultivation, extension
activities such as farmer’s workshop, trainings, demonstrations on farmer’s
field and formation of SHGs. The project villages are Gonchad village from Patan
district for cumin crop and Piludra village from Mehsana district for fennel
NAIP Component – III - Integrated Project for Research on Development Process and Sustainability of Livelihood in Selected Disadvantage Districts of Gujarat State.
The objective of the Component – III is to improve livelihood security of rural people living in the selected disadvantaged regions through technology led innovation systems, encompassing the wider process of social and economic change covering all stakeholders.
VIKSAT in collaboration with SDAU is undertaking activities like farming, propagation of vermi compost technology, MIS (drip irrigation), micro sprinkler, and improvement of water harvesting and conservation structure. The project covers 3 villages namely Sanali, Hathi Pagla & Chota Bamodra of Danta block of Banaskantha district. Glimpses of the activities are as follows:
Seed village concept
The crop productivity was very low in the earlier times as the farmers in general using the local seed variety for sowing. In 2008-09 hybrid seed variety were distributed in the project villages and as a result farmers got good quality seed which increased the production up to 35%. This year the seed village concept was introduced by providing the improved seeds of suitable crop (area main crop) to the farmers of the project village. While maize was the only crop earlier under the crop diversification activity of NAIP, farmers have introduced three others crops like groundnut, chilli & castor.
To promote agriculture diversification and additional income generation, vegetable farming is being introduced in the villages. Under this, information related to vegetable crops and its suitability in the low water condition was given to the farmers. Variety of seeds was distributed in project villages which include brinjal, okra, chilli, guwar, bottle guard and tomatoes.
Promotion of Low cost green house
Farmers were selected for the demonstration of MIS unit and low cost green house for vegetable farming during off season cultivation. Out of the 15 farmers who took the training at Navasari Agriculture University, Navasari for the construction of low-cost green house, 13 carried out the intervention in their own field with the support of NAIP Project. The farmers are using these green houses for the cultivation of seedlings, for floriculture & also for the others vegetables.
Promotion of Micro Irrigation Schemes
To conserve scarce resources such as water and electricity and to extend the
benefits of irrigated agriculture to more farmers with the available water and
to facilitate better crop management through Fertigation and Chemigation.
Looking at this scenario, around 18 MIS were installed in the project field
As a part of promoting off-farm activities back yard poultry farming and goat rearing is being supported by the project. Under the same, distribution of chicks was done to the beneficiaries selected on basis of people coming under below poverty line (B.P.L.). The program has been a huge success with the beneficiaries of the poultry units earning an additional income of 30-40 Rupees on a daily basis.
Promotion of Horticultural Crops
32 Farmers of the Hathipagla, Chhota Bamodara, and Sanali village developed the horticulture plots in their field through plantation of 461 sapling of Mango & 83 saplings of Sapota which was provided by the project.
Formation of SHGs and Farmer’s Club
10 SHGs and 10 farmers’ clubs were formed in the Sanali Cluster (Sanali,
Hathi Pagla, Chota Bamodra) of Danta block in Banaskantha district. The SHGs are
also taken up savings and credit activities.
Awareness and Capacity Building
Various trainings and exposure visits were organized for the awareness and capacity building of the SHG & farmer Club members on issues like record keeping, MIS, health, agriculture, etc. Exposure visits were organized for the farmers and SHG members of the project area with an objective to increase their awareness through exposure to improved technology.
Soil and Moisture Conservation Activities
Under the soil and moisture conservation activity in the project trenches, construction of earthen bunds & bori bunds were made in Nana Kothasana & Vasada villages of Satlasana block. The objective of the activity is to prevent soil erosion, expansion of gully, and stabilization of ravines. Around 2670 nos. of trenches were build on the sloppy land covering 32 hectare area in the 3 villages. The total quantum of the work ran into 7541 cu.mt. In addition, 43 bori bandhs (a low cost water harvesting structure) has been promoted in the villages. The activity of the earthen bund was also carried on the revenue waste land of the Kubda village wherein 19 earthen bunds were constructed during the last three months.
Plantation activity was also carried out in the Nana Kothasana, Vasada & Kubada villages of Satlasana Block in Mehsana district under the SMC activities. The aim is to reduce the soil erosion, recharge ground water and get sufficient fodder, fuel wood and small timbers for community.
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.
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 treaded a newer area of intervention under livelihood domain under larger “Umbrella Programme for Natural Resource Management” (UPNRM) being executed by NABARD by developing alternative financing solutions and institutionalizing 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.
(Financing Agricultural Sustainability and Allied Livelihood)
Background: Not many years ago, the scenario of finance related services across the villages in Gujarat was bleak. The rural banks incurred losses in undertaking the business of rural credit. Access to low interest any time money was a distant dream. The banks had their own strict criteria which left little room for the poor and landless to access loans for supporting agricultural crops. Thus, public sector lending in the livestock sector was low and inadequate credit support led to poor capital formation.
Key hindering issues in accessing loans from the local banks were:
-Need for several land related documents that led to problems and conflicts in case of multiple owners of land
-Loan amount was decided upon by the banks and was not need specific. The amount of money lent never corresponded with the demands of the people and thus did not serve the purpose of borrowing.
-Lack of proper follow up and monitoring by the banks led to increasing misuse of the money borrowed and increasing number of defaulters
-Lengthy processes and great deal of paperwork at the time of applying for seeking subsidies was not found suitable at the time of immediate need for money
-Delays due to incomplete paper work at the time of reimbursement of the money led to harassment of the poor, illiterate rural people
-NOC charges from other nationalized banks and other formalities increased the processing costs and time lag in seeking loans
-The money was never lent out to women since assets were seldom in their names
-Agriculture based finance was limited in scope (criteria of seeking loans were pre decided by the bank
SHG based Microfinance
The self help group (SHG) model with bank lending to groups of (often) poor women without collateral has become an accepted part of rural finance. SHG-based microfinance nurtured and aided by NGOs, have become an important alternative to traditional lending in terms of reaching the poor without incurring a fortune in operating and monitoring costs. The government and NABARD have recognized this and have emphasized the SHG approach and working along with NGOs in its initiatives.
Highlights of FASAL by VIKSAT
Women are mainly associated with animal husbandry and in absence of public money lending service (through banks). They are highly dependent on the financial intermediaries and end up bearing a higher interest rate than would be available otherwise. VIKSAT has undertaken a loan based project under NABARD’s UPNRM as an attempt to create a favourable economic environment by providing customized, easy and cheaper loan to women and farmers for NRM based livelihood generation.
The project is being implemented through people’s institutions P.Is), SHGs (long standing institutions) and Farmers Club (FCs).
Role played by the P.Is
- Identification of activities to be financed,
- Identification of beneficiaries and
- Grass root management of the project.
- Benefits of using VIKSAT services
Demand Driven approach: The money to be lent is at par with the needs of the borrower
People centered services: The lending mechanism is manned by the P.Is. The initial screening of the loan applications as per the stated need and rationale behind taking the loan is undertaken by the P.Is. They also take the responsibility of recovery of the loan amount
Single window approach: Verification of the loan application is undertaken by the field workers. Immediate processing of the loan application in order to reduce the time in processing of loan papers and handing over of the money
Value Added Service Providion: Cattle insurance through Tata
Life Insurance services through Kotak Mahindra Technical trainings and capacity building on improved cropping and animal husbandry
Capacity building of the borrowers: Exposure visits to other successful initiatives to gain on-field first hand information and expertise from other
Fringe benefits: Before dispensing the loan amount, the feasibility of the business plan is scrutinized and assessed. Necessary guidance is provided to the borrower to undertake initiatives that will fetch a sizeable income for the family and make repayment stress free.
Repayment mode is flexible: The repayment of the loan amount is done in installments; a month after the loan is dispensed.
Transparency: The loan amount is deposited directly in the account of the borrower. Close follow up of the borrowers is done till the money is repaid.
In 2011-12, 125 SHGs and 29 FCs benefitted from the project. The project has provided financial assistance of around 2.26 crore to 811 people of these institutions. Majority of the programme participants are women farmers (43%).
Women empowerment: The project had a positive effect on their self-esteem, their economic security, and their overall quality of life. A woman’s role in the economy has an impact on her decision-making power, as well as her ability to speak and act against inequalities, injustice, and violence in her home as well as in the community. The ownership of working capital is a means to building a woman’s confidence, self-respect, and the capacity to create her own space in the family in decision making and in shaping her life and the lives of her family members. Even though participation of women in agriculture work is more than 50%, they were hardly involved in decision making in production, harvesting, selling produces and financial transaction involved in it. The project have given opportunity to the women to know about the land details, calculating input costs, selling price, profitability etc. As women started getting crop loans she has given importance in families and she started get space to keep her view in family affairs.
Increase in productivity: The project has substantially contributed in increasing milk production in the intervention villages. The purchasing power of the poor/marginalized families was increased. Farmers bought improved variety of seeds and were able to get other agricultural inputs which helped in increasing the crop/land productivity. The cumin farmers who availed loan reported up to 35% increase in production since sowing and other inputs were provided on time and in adequate quantity.
Increase in income: The project helped in increasing family income in multiple ways. The easy and cheap loans enabled many poor families to acquire productive assets that are providing secure income. The vicious cycle of high input cost, high interest rate and distress selling of agriculture produces was cracked in many villages and people earned more income. While in many villages collective purchase of inputs helped them in getting discounted rate and ensuring quality and quantity of inputs.
Promotion of good practices: The project has also promoted many good practices that are crucial for sustainable natural resource management. For example the farmers switched over to the use of pipeline as against flood irrigation wherein there was a lot of water wastage while taking water to long distances through open trenches. Many farmers have constructed dug wells to conserve surface water and restrict the use of ground water. Farmers are looking for technology adoption such as drip irrigation, soil amendment etc. Many farmers are also showing interest for organic farming to go with the market demand. Through capacity building the project also helped in creating awareness on restricted use of nitrate based cattle and replacement of it by non-nitrate based alternatives.
FASAL in nut-shell
· Pro-women, pro poor activity
· Empowering approach
· Livelihood generation based on utilization of the local resources and community skills
· Supports a basket of livelihood options which people adopt as a survival strategy in case of failure of the major livelihood option
SUSTAINABLE NUTRITION EDUCATION HEALTH AND LIVELIHOOD (SNEHAL) PROGRAMME (2006-09)
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 of Santalpur block in Patan district.
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 to do savings and credit activities, be self-dependent, improve their current livelihood and strengthen themselves socially. The other distinct outcomes were easy access to financial resources, grading, linkage with resource agencies and leadership.
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.
DROUGHT PROOFING PROGRAMME
The district of Kachchh is prone to natural disasters and droughts and sometimes it lasts longer than expected. To reduce migration of the people during the stress period, a basket of multifarious livelihood options are promoted under the Drought Proofing Programme (DPP) in Hajipur, Tappar and Vadazar villages, by strengthening the local drought proofing committees.
Encouraged by the success of the first stage of the programme, DPP-2 was launched in other villages since December 2008 and is being implemented with Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan (KNNA) through a network of 12 partner organizations. Currently, the programme is implemented in 14 villages of Bhuj taluka.
This project pilots an effort that uniquely combines what is often considered as irreconcilable goals: a) enhancing livelihood security and b) adopting a conservation approach. And, this would be achieved by using a sound combination of market-based approach and institutional change.
The market-based approach is designed to promote strong economic incentives for the various stake-holders and commercial partners of the program in favour of conservation approach. This approach, it is hoped, will place the production models developed during the DPP-1 on a sustainable path by a sound combination of economic incentives, appropriate institutional arrangements and service support. The backward and forward linkages are proposed to be developed in parallel to realize this goal.
An array of activities undertaken under DPP are developing milk markets, grass plots and ensuring accessibility to and availability of animal health care services
In Banni area, the people belonging to Maldhari community forms the majority for whom animal husbandry is the principal source of livelihood. However there were no markets and migration was a common phenomenon. Thus, to strengthen market linkages and generate income from milk produce, a centre for milk collection - Bulk Milk collection Centre (BMC) was established in 2009 at Bhirandiara village of Bhuj taluka with the support of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), SKDP (Saurastra Kutch Dairy Development Project) and Sarhad Dairy. The BMC receives milk from all the villages of that particular cluster and makes payment in every 10 days. This not only resulted in higher market price, but also broke the cartel formed by the local businessmen. As more and more people sold the milk produce in the collection centre, the local businessmen were forced to raise the cost of the milk to sustain in the business. The development of a marketing network and remunerative price support to the producers worked as great incentives for higher animal productivity and all types of livestock products.
Through this effort, an estimated 10, 000 litres of milk has been collected from 8 villages in the Bhirandiara BMC. The centre also addresses issues pertaining to fat content in the milk and issues related to milk quality and payment mechanisms. Additionally, in coordination with Sarhad dairy, another BMC was set up in month of February in the same village.
Animal Care Services
The importance of feed and fodder in livestock production hardly needs to be emphasised.
Fodder: To get fodder security round the year and specifically in summer months, planning was done to cultivate grass in the available forestland of the area. This was done in close co-ordination with the forest department and GUIDE. With this planning intervention was done in Bhojordo village where the results were satisfactory. Looking at the better results, another proposal was submitted to the district sanctioning committee to develop 50 hectors grass plot in Moti Daddar and 115 hectors grass plot in Dedhiya villages.
Cattle Feed Enterprise: About a decade ago, when VIKSAT joined hands with Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan (KNNA) and implemented the Drought Proofing Programme (DPP) in 14 villages of Bhuj taluka through a network of 12 partner organizations, little was it known to secure roots for a community owned enterprise to promote animal husbandry and dairy activities.
In Banni area, animal husbandry is the principal source of livelihood for the people belonging to Maldhari community. But in absence of markets, open grazing system, depletion of grass lands, growing imbalance in the ecosystem and harsh climatic conditions, distress migration was not uncommon. The collective efforts and advocacy helped in establishment of a centre for milk collection - Bulk Milk collection Centre (BMC) in 2009 at Bhirandiara village of Bhuj taluka with the support of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), SKDP (Saurastra Kutch Dairy Development Project) and Sarhad Dairy.
The BMC receives milk from all the villages of that particular cluster and makes payment in every 10 days. This not only resulted in higher market price, but also broke the cartel formed by the local businessmen. The development of a marketing network and remunerative price support to the producers worked as great incentives for higher animal productivity and all types of livestock products.
To ensure fodder security, grass cultivation was done in the available forestland of the area in co-ordination with the forest department and GUIDE. With the help of local cattle owners, a cattle service centre was also established in Nani Daddar village from October 2010 to provide cattle feed oil cake and wheat husk to the cattle owners. This reduced the woes of buying cattle feed from Bhuj that was situated 100 kms. away from the village. The traders at Bhuj provided high priced feed which was poor in quantity and quality.
The foundation of a community based enterprise took its roots. A membership based unregistered organisation by the name of Pashu Palak Mitra was formed as a producers institution. Around 135 animal herders from nearby 4 villages are members of this group. They pay a nominal amount of Rs. 25/- per household as entry fees and pay a refundable deposit amount of Rs. 100/- per animal owned by the household.
There is a management committee made of 11 members of the organization. Administration of the center and activities like maintaining the book of records, facilitation of the transactions, procuring and selling of the cattle feed, maintaining data of the cattle head count of each member etc. is undertaken by a salaried person employed by the organization and is paid @ Rs. 3000/- per month from the profits earned from the enterprise.
The business plan is not akin to the commercially oriented buying and selling since it caters only to the members and the selling is done on the basis of number of cattle owned, so as to rule out any possibility of forced stock hoarding. The objective is primarily to improve the care and inputs for the milch animals owned by the members, increase milk productivity, improve and sustain the income source.
Till 31st March 2012, VIKSAT has given a loan of Rs. 7 lacs. in three instalments to initiate and sustain the business. The center had a turnover of Rs. 91, 145/-.
Helpline for Animal Care
One of the critical factors for dismal condition of animal husbandry is dearth of communication between the health care professionals and the cattle owners. The cattle owners were ignorant about whom to contact at the time of need. To address this need, a 24 hour helpline was set up wherein a designated mobile number was given out to the members and cattle owners as the end users to be accessed at the time of need. The calls were received by a para veterinary worker and attended to as per the priority of the cases in lieu of nominal fees charged for travelling and medicine.
Drenching or controlling the worm among cattle is yet another
important form of cattle protection and providing better animal
husbandry services. Various animal health care camps were organised in
close collaboration with veterinary department of Bhuj taluka to
Formation of People’s Institutions [PIs]
Banni Pashu Ucherak Maldhari Sangathan was formed and registered under the Trust Act and efforts undertaken to build the capacities of the Sangathan. So as to handle this program independently after completion of the project.
PROJECT FOR INCOME AUGMENTATION IN SEMI-ARID AREA (Project PIASA)
Project PIASA is an ambitious project in terms of its demonstrativeness, approach and design to address livelihood isssues in the villages of Santalpur and Sami block of Patan district located in the fringe of little Rann of Kachchh. Santalpur and Sami taluka of Patan districts face the problem of salinity of soil and desertification. The land comprises of soft rocks and is under alluvial formation with inherent salinity that gets marshy during monsoon.
The backwardness of the area further contributes to the challenge as the crop yield is minimized and so is the income generated. The capital value of land, vegetation and water also decline over time. Due to varying volume of precipitation and unpredictable rainfall, agriculture is dwindling and the farmers are not left with viable solutions. Not even two crops are grown each year. Lesser the crops, lesser is the yield, which further affects the fodder production, thereby having an adverse the overall sustenance of the community residing in the taluka villages.
To ensure a sustainable source of income from farm activities, it is important to bring about change in the cropping pattern i.e., diversification from agricultural to horticultural (Fruit) crops.
Considering the resistance and survival rate of pomegranate crop in saline soil, semi-arid soil and dry climate, VIKSAT has implemented Pomegranate plantation during the Kharif 2011 in 72 acres in the villages of these talukas. The activity was supported by the Zilla Ayojan Bhavan (District Planning Office), Patan under ‘30 Vikas-sheel Taluka Scheme’, Department of Horticulture, Patan.
Salinity tolerant horticulture
Horticulture is not a usual practice in the project area due adverse climatic condition. Rainfall is very scanty, temperature in summer is very high and lands are affected by salinity. The normal horticulture plants are unable to survive in such climatic conditions. However as the research result shows in and out of state in regard to success of horticulture of plant species that can survive in similar climatic conditions and have good economic value, demonstration of similar horticulture species like dry dates, pomegranate and custard apple will be initiated.
Drip Irrigation system
Drip irrigation system proved to be very effective for farming activities with very less amount of water in comparison to all other alternatives. Drip irrigation system helps in consistent growth, plant health and timely maturity of crops and along with increasing effective utilization of applied fertilizer.
Improved agriculture practice
Cumin is the major crop and forms the back bone of the agriculture economy in the project area. However, many farmers are currently practicing traditional methodology of farming and also use local variety of seeds. VIKSAT aims at demonstration of use of treated seeds and minor alteration in farming practice viz. land alkalinity treatment, timing of showing, controlling irrigation frequency and weeding practice leading to increase in yield up to 40% with minimal increase in input cost.
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.
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.