Agriculture and Livelihood:
Zero-Budget Nature Farming
Three times a day, you need a farmer. Everybody agrees that a farmer is an unsung hero of the world because the logic follows “no farmers, no food, no future”. Then why are we shortchanging our farmers?
Our current agricultural practises are desecrating our natural resources at every level. The way we are farming presently, it is contaminating our soil, polluting & shrinking our water resources, killing biodiversity and producing food that is not safe because it is laced and injected with poisonous pesticides and hormones. This destructive method of farming is being justified in the name of producing more food to feed the population and profit. Meanwhile, we are cutting the hand that is feeding us as more and more farmers are reportedly committing suicide. The population is running to hospitals to get treatment for better health.
Our Philosophy of work is simple: Food is nourishment, it should not kill. We, at Shramik Bharti, believe that interventions are required to stop this vicious cycle from completely destroying our agricultural system. After all, an Industry that feeds us is definitely worth fighting for and Food should give life to consumers and sustainable living to farmers. With this understanding, Shramik Bharti is promoting Nature Farming. We are promoting the following practises :
- use of traditional seeds (stop the use of Genetically Modified seeds)
- stop use of chemicals (both pesticides and chemical fertilizers)
- minimum irrigation
- manual tools easing farm operation for small holders
- minimize use of fossil fuels
Shramik Bharti through our concerted efforts has engaged more than 1500 conscientious farmers to adopt Zero-Budget Natural Farming.
Community Seed Banks:
A community initiative to conserve seeds for local use, Community Seed Banks promotes self-reliance amongst the agrarian populations. Traditional seeds have genetic diversity that is adapted to cope with weather variability and changing climate conditions. The conservation of traditional seeds promote resilience by creating availability of seeds. The seed banks create a sustainable network for farmers to facilitate seed supply in times of need. So far, 33 Community Seed Banks have been formed in 21 villages of Uttar Pradesh and 12 villages of Punjab.
Food Security is a significant issue for small and marginalized farmers. To combat this issue, Shramik Bharti has been promoting Kitchen Gardens as a learning school for nature farming to create resilience in farmers’ income and diet through growing vegetable, fruits, and pulses.
Kitchen Gardens boost nutritional intake of farmers by introducing variety in the diet of farmers in a cost-effective manner. They also add to the farmer’s household income either by sale of the food products grown in the gardens or by the consumption of the same food items that the families would have otherwise purchased from markets using a significant portion of the family income. Since 2015 , Shramik Bharti has promoted 2000 Kitchen Gardens in the districts of Kanpur Nagar, Kanpur Dehat, Barabanki, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Fatehpur of Uttar Pradesh, and Ferozepur and Amritsar districts of Punjab. In the slums of Kanpur Nagar, 50 terrace gardens have been developed with the urban poor community.
Farmer Producer Organisations:
Enhancing the prospects for Nature Farming is the natural entrepreneurial step for the Self-help Groups who have been engaging in micro-finance and social activities for decade given their agricultural expertise. With the support of NABARD, Ekta Nature Farming Producer Company & Chetana Nature Farming Producer have been set up to enhance production and processing capacity of the rural families based in Shivrajpur block of Kanpur Nagar and Akbarpur block of Kanpur Dehat. We are also in the process of setting up 4 more Farmer-Producer organisation.
Creating value at the farmer end is the essential aspect of the Farmer Producer Organisation which is working on Zero-budget Nature Farming to produce Organic Food that reduces input costs for the farmer and enhances nutritional values of food and quality of land. The FPOs capacitates farmer in agri-inputs such as information sessions, conservation of traditional seeds, manufacturing bio-medicines, hand-operated agri-tools and kitchen gardens.
Sodic Land Reclamation Program
Uttar Pradesh is called the heartland of India, and our focus turned towards the degradation of the heartland when in 1995, Shramik Bharti began working on a project on Sodic land with World Bank and UP Government. When there is accumulation of salts in the upper layer of soil, it impacts the fertility of soil and the ecosystem that thrives in it. The accumulation of sodium salts raises the alkalinity in the Ph ranges of 8 -12 which visibly renders the soil white in colour.
The impact of Sodication or alkalisation of soil is immense as it leads to desertification and along with being susceptible to erosion due to water and wind. Viewed in the context of Uttar Pradesh where the farmers possess smaller land holdings, this accumulation of salt brings in the vicious cycle of poverty, unemployment and starvation.
For Shramik Bharti, the work to reclaim the Sodic Lands began with the support of Uttar Pradesh Land Development Corporation & World Bank in the districts of Kanpur and Kanpur Dehat. The project benefitted 46251 farmers who have reclaimed 17,688 hectares since 1994.
In the 2016-2017, Working in 21 villages, Shramik Bharti supported reclamation of 631 hectares of sodic lands which benefitted 1650 farmers. Also since 2015, in collaboration with Dr. Deep Mukherji, a faculty of IIT Kanpur, we have been supporting 270 farmers to biologically reclaim their sodic lands in 6 villages of Rasoolabad and Kakawan Blocks of Kanpur Dehat and Kanpur respectively.
Ravine Land Stabilization Program
Uttar Pradesh’s agrarian dependency makes land a critical resource for the populace’s livelihood which in the face of inadequate infrastructure and lack of support impacts agricultural growth. Vast tracts of lands remain under-utilized for cultivation which includes ravine lands. Ravine Lands are system of gullies running more or less parallel to each other and draining in to major river or its tributaries. Ravines are prone to erosion and susceptible to further gullying which degrading the land.
To improve the agricultural output and with our previous work-history in rejuvenation of sodic land, Shramik Bharti in collaboration with Uttar Pradesh Land Development Corporation started working in the ravine belts of River Yamuna and Sengur. These regions of fragile eco-system suffered devastatingly from soil erosion despite congenial agro-climatic conditions and the groundwater level was decreased to 200-350 feet . Rampant poverty furthered social problems.
With a pilot project initiated in 2010-2011 in the ravine villages, 654 hectares of land was stabilized which benefitted 633 farmers of which most were small and marginal in the first year. As of 2017, Shramik Bharti has facilitated 8,760 farmers in ravine stabilisation activities in 6,014 hectare land.