Strengthening Natural Resource-Based Livelihoods
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Agriculture and Livelihood
Everyone believes that a farmer is an unsung hero of the world since “no farmers, no food, no future” is a logical conclusion. So, why are we underpaying our farmers? At every level, our existing farming practices are desecrating our natural resources. The way we farm now is poisoning our land, polluting, and depleting our water supplies, destroying biodiversity, and providing food that is unsafe due to the use of toxic pesticides and hormones. This damaging farming practice is justified by the need to produce more food in order to feed the people and make a profit. Meanwhile, we’re chopping off the hand that feeds us, with reports of more farmers committing suicide. People are flocking to hospitals for treatment in order to improve their health.
Our work philosophy is straightforward: food should nourish, not kill. At Shramik Bharti, we think that actions are necessary to prevent this vicious cycle from damaging our agricultural economy altogether. 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 practices:
> Usage of traditional seeds (stop the use of Genetically Modified seeds)
> Stop use of chemicals (both pesticides and chemical fertilizers)
> Minimum irrigation
> Small tools easing farm operation for small holders
> Minimize use of fossil fuels
Through our concerted efforts more than 1000 conscientious farmers in Uttar Pradesh & Punjab have shifted to Nature Farming practices in their 657 Acre land. In addition to this more than 2500 farmers are experimenting with Natural Farming by developing Kitchen Gardens.
Community Seed Banks
For thousands of years, farmers have used genetic diversity to cope with weather variability and changing climate conditions by planting, storing and selecting robust seeds for producing food in a dynamic environment. Sadly, in the last few decades this gift of nature is lost due to the lust of profit for big corporations.
Shramik Bharti is promoting natural farming that is based on use of traditional seeds and local resource based agriculture. By formation and strengthening of Community Seed Banks we have been able to enhance farmers’ resilience by ensuring availability of traditional seeds of locally adopted crops.
Today in Uttar Pradesh & Punjab 40 Community Seed Banks have created a sustainable network for farmers to facilitate seed supply in times of need.
Agri Tool Bank
Farms have become smaller and big farm machines have become unviable for small holding farmers. Family sizes have become smaller so there are few hands to work on the farm. Labour is not available for farm work. To address these issues, in Uttar Pradesh Shramik Bharti introduced hand operated small implements to help small & marginal farmers to reduce their drudgery and improve their productivity.
Agri tools like Synthe,PotatoWeeder, Rice Weeder, Seed Drill and Seed marker were provided to the Community Seed Bank for collective use by natural farmers.
Owing to the present agriculture scenario in Punjab, Shramik Bharti found that use of heavy and costly machines at individual level is increasing the indebtedness among farmers. Moreover most of the machines remain idle for a large part of the year as the majority of farmers have small land holdings. This calls for the need of introducing new technologies and collective use of smaller machines in farming.
Multi Crop Seed Drill ,Mechanical Tiller and mini Rotavators were provided to members of farmer groups for collective use in their crop operations.
For small and vulnerable farmers, food security is a major concern. Shramik Bharti has been advocating Kitchen Gardens as a learning school for natural farming to develop economic and diet resilience in farmers via producing vegetables, fruits, and pulses.
Kitchen Gardens increase farmers’ nutritional intake by adding diversity into their meals in a cost-effective manner. They also contribute to the farmer’s household income, either via the selling of food grown in the gardens or by the consumption of food that would otherwise be purchased from markets with a major amount of the family’s income.
Since 2015, Shramik Bharti has promoted 2500 Kitchen Gardens in the districts of Kanpur Nagar, Kanpur Dehat, Barabanki, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Fatehpur of Uttar Pradesh, and Ferozepur and Amritsar districts of Punjab.
Model form contributes towards sustainable life and livelihood of a farming community and maintains environmental sustainability as well through a multilayer multi-crop agriculture model. It embraces kitchen garden, Horticulture, Compost pit, nursery, livestock rearing etc. in kitty and all these activities are interlinked and exhibited by mutual support.
In Punjab, 16 model farms have been developed in 12 villages of Ferozepur and Amritsar districts to help farmers to increase their income manyfold.
In Uttar Pradesh, 40 Model Farms comprising Kitchen Garden, NADEP Compost Pit, fodder cultivation and crops of cereals, pulses, oilseeds, spices, fruits, timber etc. have been developed.
Farmer Producer Organizations
Given their agricultural knowledge, improving the possibilities for Natural Farming is a logical entrepreneurial step for Women Self-help Groups that have been engaged in microfinance and social activities for more than a decade.
Shramik Bharti through Women Self Help Groups and its Federations in Kanpur Nagar, Kanpur Dehat, Chandauli & Fatehpur districts of Uttar Pradesh, which comprises women members from farming families, has engaged interested women members of SHGs in Natural Farming activities.
Further, these women SHGs formed 4 Farmer Producer Organizations, contributing towards enhanced produce holding capacity and collective bargaining power of small farmers. Collective ownership adds to the greater sustainability of the Farmer Producer Organizations.
These companies have facilitated the process of organic certification of farm produce through PGS/NPOP and 120 farmers have received NPOP certification in Uttar Pradesh.
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 Reclamation with the World Bank and Government of Uttar Pradesh.
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.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.
Shramik Bharti has reclaimed 18,328 hectares of sodic land benefiting 47,828 small & marginal farmers. The reclaimed lands are giving additional crop production of 183,280 MT having a market value of about Rs. 275 crore per year.
There exists a strong link between food security and water security. Agriculture accounts for approximately 90% of the water needs of rural communities in India. Thus it becomes imperative to manage water sustainability for security of food, and sustainable agriculture.
Since 2010, Shramik Bharti has been promoting equitable and efficient water management under its Water Security Program. The core components of our water security initiative include capacitating community & local government (Panchayat) in development of Water Security Plans through Jal Chaupals, mainstreaming water security issues in GPDP( Gram Panchayat Development Plan) and creation of water conservation model structures Viz. Rain water Harvesting Structures, Recharge Wells, Pond Rejuvenation and cleaning.
In Punjab, 8 Village Ponds were cleaned and developed as village wastewater treatment plants. Add to this, 50 rain water harvesting pits in farmlands and 5 roof top rain water harvesting structures were constructed.
In Uttar Pradesh, by empowering Gram Panchayats(local government) and strengthening their capacities in addressing water security issues of their communitie, rejuvenation of 4 ponds, construction of Demo Rooftop Rainwater harvesting structures and Recharge well in villages of Kanpur Nagar was achieved.
Jal Chaupals serve as a community interactive forum and bring together the community, their leaders, Panchayat representatives, Government representatives, NGO representatives and technical experts to discuss local water security issues and find their solutions.
Shramik Bharti has been engaged in organizing Jal Chaupals, focusing on the issues of water budgeting, water harvesting and water management in rural Kanpur.
Sustainable living with equal opportunities for all