Marathwada, our project area, is the worst drought-hit region resulting in crop failure, depletion in ground water level, increased climate risks, food insecurity and uncertain cash flow in the absence of diversified livelihoods rendering farming an economically unviable venture for small and marginal farmers who, despite these, continue to grow water intensive single cash crops with expensive chemical inputs.
This problem is further intensified as the key stakeholder of farming is left aside – the women.
In Maharashtra, 70% of the total female workers are involved in agriculture activities. Despite their active involvement, women are perceived as laborers and seldom as “farmers” and “decision makers.”
SSP promotes a multi-level, multi-pronged approach to build capacities of small and marginal farming households for combating drought. The approach focuses on creating a cadre of women as Samvad Sahayaks or the Community Resource Persons (CRPs) on climate resilience farming strategies.
The Climate Resilience Farming model repositions women as farmers and bearers of the knowledge, enabling them to take informed decisions related to what to grow, what to consume and how much to sell and where and promotes food, nutrition, income and water security. This model encourages women to gain cultivation rights from their families on a small piece of land which usually starts with half or one acre.
The key innovative practices that are building the resilience of marginal farming households are use of bio fertilizers and pesticides, preservation and exchange of local seeds, diversify from single to multiple food crops, increase in no. of crop cycles, choice of water efficient and short term crops, stress on water conservation through use of hydroponics, drip irrigation, sprinklers, farm ponds, recharging of bore wells, tree plantation and diversifying into agri allied businesses.
• Food security - 60% households eat food from farm for 4- 8 months in a year
• Savings - 30% reduced input costs; up to INR 9000 annual savings
• Health benefits - Reduced anemia, medical costs due to chemical free food
• Women’s Empowerment - 58,000 women farmers - are empowered in Agriculture; 78% women gained cultivation permission from families;30% women with - improved access to market
• Improved decision - making related to choice of food crops and low cost bio-inputs
• Income security - INR 83,000 additional annual income from farm
• Livelihood security - Increase in livestock ratio for 30% households
• Environment - 45,000 acres of dry land converted to bio farms