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SYNGENTA FOUNDATION PROJECTS IN INDIA ANNUAL REPORT: 2008 ­ 9*

Partha R Das Gupta

Executive Summary The activities of Syngenta Foundation in India were initiated as a joint effort between Syngenta India Limited (SIL) and Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA). The first project launched in 2005 in partnership with Maharogi Sewa Samiti (MSS)1 in Chandrapur in central India. The initial objective was to guide and assist MSS to profitably run its large farming operations using advanced agronomic techniques and utilize the earnings for good social causes. Later, the idea came about of sharing relevant scientific knowledge with resource-poor, small-holding farmers of the neighbourhood. This gave birth to extension-driven projects in 2006. Around the same time, an independent not-for-profit organization called Syngenta Foundation India (SFI) was set up by SIL with support from SFSA. SFI started three projects, in Jawhar in western India and in Kalahandi and Bankura in eastern India. There was some commonness in the situations of these project areas viz, inhabited by resource-poor, smallholding farmers; dependent on rainfed cultivation of rice; ignorant of technological advancements in agronomy; agriculture hardly providing livelihood security. Therefore, the projects were started with a common goal of spreading awareness to appropriate technologies among farmers and assisting them in utilizing these for increasing farm productivity and thus raising their income opportunities. Having started in a very modest way with just one agronomist and a couple of field assistants in each site, the projects went on evolving and expanding, as these progressed. New dimensions were added based on the lessons learnt from the initial interventions. Towards the end of the second year, an external evaluation of the projects was commissioned and its report provided some valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the individual projects as well as of SFI in general. Some key recommendations made in the report were, a) increasing area under SRI; b) stepping up promotion of vegetable cultivation; c) capacity building of extension personnel (looking beyond technology) and strengthening of services; d) scaling up of interventions in rainwater harvesting/ watershed development (closely linked with agricultural improvement in some pockets); e) closer linkages with Govt and other development agencies (for convergence of similar schemes and benefiting greater number of farmers); f) formation of farmers groups for marketing fresh produce and increasing their take-home earnings. The above recommendations

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Operational year of SFI runs from April 1 to Mar 31. Maharogi Sewa Samiti in Anandwan was founded in 1949, by the renowned humanitarian Late Baba Amte.

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were taken into cognizance while formulating the new project guidelines, as SFSA redefined its mission in regard to smallholders "from subsistence farming to wealth creation through technology and participation in the market". According to the new mission goals, success was equated with "sustained improvements in grower incomes through productivity gains and profitable sales". The necessity of scaling up of operations with a goal of reaching out to 10,000 farmers by 2009 and 50,000 by 2011 were proposed. The aim of was to make an impact in the project areas and evolve the projects as a replicable model. In order to meet the demands of the new mission, the projects have undergone major restructuring and have started moving on a new direction with a much greater speed since mid-2008. By the time the new mission was set into motion, the monsoon rains had already set in, hence, advance planning for the kharif2 season was no longer possible. Secondly, by the time a stronger extension team was put together, even a part of the rabi3 season had progressed. Nevertheless, fresh enthusiasm and drive of the reinforced project teams helped achieving a quadruple expansion of overall outreach (to 6000 plus) and a threefold increase in close contacts with farmers by the end of March 2009. The full project-wise report is presented below.

Chandrapur Project Project area State: Maharashtra, in Vidharbha (formerly known as Berar) region of central India; District ­ Chandrapur; Talukas ­ Warora and Mul. Climate and soil: Sub-humid; black cotton to medium clayey soils. Source of irrigation ­ check dams on micro-watersheds and masonry and borewells. Main crops: Warora ­ soybean, cotton, pigeonpea, wheat, sunflower, vegetables. Mul ­ rice, soybean, pigeonpea, wheat, chickpea, vegetables. Objects & activities There were two main objectives with which the project was initiated, a) to provide technical guidance and professional assistance to MSS so that it can transform its farming into profitable commercial operations and b) to use Anandwan and Somnath as centres for spreading knowledge of advanced agronomic techniques among small-holding and otherwise backward farmers located in neighbouring villages. By 2007 ­ 8, i.e., after three years of the partnership, the first objective was satisfactorily fulfilled, as MSS posted a net farm income, excluding the inhouse consumption, of Rs 1.8 mio (US$ 38,000 approx) as compared to "no cash profit" situation when we got started. Therefore, at the beginning of 2008 ­ 9, it was mutually agreed that SFI will help MSS find professional managers to run the farms and gradually divert its attention and energy in strengthening the extension services. At the start of the last rabi season, a competent farm manager took charge of Anandwan and is running it satisfactorily. SFI has continued to provide additional technical guidance, particularly with regard to

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Kharif is the warm & wet season of the monsoon rains ­ from Jun to Sep. Rabi is the post-monsoon, cool & dry season ­ from Oct to Mar.

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vegetable cultivation, pest and disease management, etc. At Somnath, farming operations were managed by the respective heads of its communes, under continuous guidance and assistance from SFI project team. During a mid-year review, it was proposed that SFI in partnership with MSS should establish a school for agriculture, with multiple objectives. Infrastructure & mechanization During the year, SFI got a modern poly house facility built at Anandwan which was long needed for raising quality vegetable seedlings. The existing facilities at Somnath were renovated and expanded to meet its bigger and continuous requirements. Drip irrigation facility was installed on a trial basis in selected vegetable crops. Every year, the transplanting of rice which is grown in 250 ­ 300 acres (100 ­ 120 ha approx) at Somnath, got delayed due to shortage of labour. In order to overcome this problem, a Chinese rice transplanting machine was acquired last year. By the time it became operational, bulk of the planting had already been completed. However, the use of the machine was successfully demonstrated by transplanting a few acres with it. Summary of results The project area received unusually low rainfall in 2008 ­ 9. At Somnath the total rainfall recorded was around 900 mm which is 25% less than the longterm average and 35% less than that of the previous year. The monsoon had an early withdrawal. The situation adversely affected rice and other crops, both rainfed and irrigated. The total area under rice at Somnath was restricted to 88 ha as compared to 103 last year. Consequently, the total production was 36% less and the average yield 25% less, as compared to last year. In spite of such stressful situation, the people of ,,Trupti Sadan achieved high yields from 11.7 ha they had planted under rice, the highest being 5.68 tons/ ha from hybrid rice NK-5251, i.e., >100% of overall average and an all-time record. Total production of soybean at Somnath (29.2 tons) was about the same as last year because of a larger area sown but the yield declined by 28% because of water stress. Nonetheless, the total income was more because of high commodity prices. Vegetables were a success again, cultivated in >13 ha, fetched a net income of Rs 1.3 mio (US$ 27,000 approx) at Somnath and from ~8 ha at Anandwan, Rs 0.8 mio, 30 ­ 40% more than last year. Anticipating a shortage of water for irrigation, rabi sowing plan was substantially curtailed. At Anandwan, the significant change was a marginal increase in wheat yield which attributed to better agronomy followed by the new farm manager. Agricultural extension services were provided in 8 villages around Mul (Somnath), 3 in Warora (Anandwan) and 7 in Zari-Jamni (Mulgavan), during 2008 ­ 9. Most encouraging results emerged from Mul (SRI4 and vegetables) and Zari-Jamni (vegetables). The main field extension worker in Mul is a woman who has made significant progress in reaching out to local farmers, especially the women folk and convincing them to adopt improved farming practices to their own advantage. The extension services are planned to be strengthened in the current year. A new extension centre is planned to be added in Kalamb Taluka of Yavatmal District. School for agricultural technology Efforts are on to give shape to the proposal of establishing a multipurpose institute of agricultural technology at Anandwan as a joint venture between SFI and MSS. The basic idea is to have at the core of it a school offering a 2________________________________________________________

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SRI = System of rice intensification, originally evolved in Madagascar.

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year diploma course in vocational agriculture to rural youth who for various reasons are unable to pursue college education. This would be affiliated to the state agricultural university of the region, Dr Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapith, Akola. The proposal envisages adding satellite curricula around it and setting up of other virtual institutions linked with it that would cater to different kinds of training needs ranging from distant education in agriculture to modular courses for inputs industry, retail chain, etc. A consultant is pursuing the first phase of the project and progress is taking place slowly. There is a proposal that when this institute becomes fully operational, all extension programs of SFI shall also be run though it. Jawhar Project Project area State: Maharashtra in western India, on Sahyadri (the Western Ghats); District ­ Thane; Taluka ­ Jawhar. Climate and soil: Humid; medium to sandy loam soils. Source of irrigation: Perennial and seasonal streams with check dams; rainwater storage ponds; masonry wells. Main crops: Rice, finger millet, pigeonpea, niger, vegetables, flowers, mango, cashew. Other features: - Hilly terrains with erosion problems; heavy rains from Jun to Sep, followed by long dry period with scarcity of water. - Predominantly tribal population with laid-back lifestyle; farmers practicing primitive agriculture, often marginalized and facing livelihood insecurity, are compelled to migrate to suburban areas to work as unskilled labour. Objects & activities The project was initiated in partnership with Pragati Pratisthan (PP) ­ a local NGO, with the following objectives: a) to help improve irrigation facilities by building more check dams; b) to spread knowledge of scientific agriculture among local farmers with a view to using these towards increasing crop productivity and thus improving their income opportunities; c) overall, to prevent people from migrating in search of livelihood security. In the second year, another partnership was forged with BAIF ­ a national level NGO specializing in agriculture, rural development and cooperatives. With that, the following additional objectives were adopted: d) to promote horticulture on a wide scale and e) to facilitate farmers groups to carry out collective marketing of their produce for better price realization. At the start of the year 2008 ­ 9, a new approach was adopted of dividing the project area into clusters of villages and assigning a field extension worker to each of these. All of these field workers are young, hail from the project area, mostly agriculture diploma holders and one of them a woman. At the beginning they were given a crash training program by the project manager and thereafter being given lessons on weekly basis. In most of the clusters, a "village resource person" is also inducted as a member of the extension team. Presently there are 7 cluster extension units covering more than 50 hamlets and nearly 400 ­ 450 farming families. Of these, two clusters comprising

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twelve hamlets each are parts of the BAIF-Amrai Coop Society initiative of vegetable farmer groups jointly marketing their produce. Four farmers workshops and two exposure tours were conducted for spreading greater awareness to modern scientific knowledge of agriculture among local farmers. The workshops were addressed by senior experts of the subjects and well attended by farmers. Besides, several trials and demonstrations of new improved varieties and techniques in farmers fields were also successfully undertaken. Through the cluster extension units, various inputs needed by farmers were made available at cost as well as some pumps, sprayers, farm implements, etc, were provided on loan. Some of the units also ran farmers information centres equipped with agriculture and horticulture-related books, charts, manuals, etc. Cluster extension workers encouraged and assisted farmers to consult these educative materials. Improvement of water resources In order to improve the availability of water for drinking and irrigation, Rotary Clubs and other social-service organizations from Greater Mumbai area in partnership with PP, had been engaged in construction of check dams on the many streams running through the terrains of Jawhar. Since SFI started working in this area, it contacted these bodies and guided them in choosing the right sites for the new check dams so that the harnessed water could be effectively utilized for irrigation purposes. In addition, SFI under the guidance of a principal scientist of Dr Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapith (KKV) ­ the state agricultural university of the region, has demonstrated innovative low-cost techniques of building check dams and rain water harvesting. The process of creating greater awareness about these innovations among farmers is continuing. Summary of results Around 9000 kg of certified quality seed of improved varieties of rice was distributed amongst 500 farmers of which 1600 kg had come from the seedmultiplication program in farmers fields under the supervision of the project. The net gain from this was a yield increase of 15%. The project also demonstrated to more than 100 farmers the benefits of various kinds of seed treatments viz, with seed protectants, bioinoculums, etc. Demonstrations were also carried out with the use of pre- and post-emergence herbicides for effective control of weeds in rice. SRI was tried out by 60 farmers, at least half of them seriously who reported yield increases ranging from 20 to 90% (together with hybrid rice). Such substantial gains are expected to prompt many more to adopt this technique in the coming season. Two different Hybrid rice varieties were tried out by 40 farmers in 25 hamlets. These gave substantially higher yields, especially when grown under SRI technique. Direct sowing of rice with the new model ,,paddy row (drum) seeder was tried out by ten farmers out of whom half were successful indicating the utility of this gadget in certain situations. In vegetables, a major new program was launched with Amrai (a coop society promoted by BAIF). It began on a small scale in kharif when only 73 farmers joined it, mostly first-time vegetable growers. They earned profits ranging from Rs 1000/- to 5000/-, each. In rabi season, 103 farmers participated who earned bigger profits. The program is expected to grow many folds in size and become more profitable in the next kharif which is better suited for large-

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scale cultivation of vegetables in Jawhar area. At that time, collective marketing of the fresh produce is also planned to be undertaken by the coop. SFI has collaborated with BAIF in promoting ,,wadis i.e., a mixed plantation of mango & cashew along with agro-forestry tree species on the hill slopes with the objective of soil and water conservation and at the same time enhancing income opportunities. Each wadi is a one-acre unit that is raised with equal participation by individual farmers. In 2008 ­ 9, 38 new wadis were promoted as against 12 in the previous year. A special feature of SFI model is to teach the farmer to grow vegetables in the empty spaces and thus earn a ready income, as the gestation of an orchard is 5 ­ 6 years. A total of 12 plastic lined rainwater harvesting ponds were built on participatory basis on selected wadis. The water thus stored was used for protective irrigation of young fruit saplings and intercrops of vegetables. A new program for 2008 ­ 9, viz, promotion of growing vegetables in kitchen gardens with a view to improving nutritional intake of the people, was undertaken with 450 families in kharif and 190 in rabi season. This is pledged to be made widespread in the project area. Jawhar Krishi Mahotsav 2009 ­ a farmers fair, was held on Mar 6 & 7, first of its kind in the project area, jointly with the two project partners, in the campus of the crop museum at Dongachimet. It included besides an exposition of farm inputs, tools and live demonstrations, a seminar and a workshop. The latter were held under the patronage of KKV. Inauguration was done by Mr Vinayakdada Patil ­ a former Minister of the State Govt. In spite of the remoteness of the place around 500 farmers visited the fair on day 1 and 300 on day 2. In the evening of the first day, there was a well-attended folk music program in which one of the visiting delegates from SFIs Kalahandi project also gave a lively performance. Success stories Out of several successes achieved by individual farmers of the project area, the following were most outstanding: Yashwant Kharpade of Talyachapada had to work as a labour for securing livelihood of his family. Encouraged by instances of successful vegetable growing by neighbouring farmers, he took up to growing okra (2000 m2) and eggplant (400 m2) with guidance from SFI project and earned a net income of Rs 34,000/- (@ US$ 2950 per ha approx). He has invested his profits into bullocks, a pump, etc. Suresh Kambdi of Shiroshi too was a labour like Yashwant. In partnership with another farmer who had land by a stream, he grew okra on 1 acre and shared a net profit of Rs 42,000/- (@ US$ 2160 per ha). He invested his cash earnings in a buffalo, on his childrens education and further expansion of vegetable cultivation. Kalahandi Project Project area State: Orissa in eastern India, at the foothills and the plains adjoining the Eastern Ghats; District ­ Kalahandi; Talukas ­ Dharmagarh and Junagarh. Climate and soil: Sub-humid with erratic monsoons; heavy to sandy loam soils, mostly river alluvium. Source of irrigation: Canals (Upper Indravati Irrigation Project), direct lift (from a number of minor rivers flowing through the area), tanks and masonry wells.

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Main crops: Rice (major area), pulses and oilseeds (minor crops), vegetables, banana (emerging). Other features: - Occasional heavy monsoon showers resulting in flash floods in rivers, thereby causing sheet erosion and sand deposition. - Low crop productivity mainly due to lack of awareness of farmers, even those with medium to large holdings and fertile lands, to scientific agronomic practices. - Livelihood security issues in areas on the foothills, with degraded soils and not served by canals. Major problem of child labour. Objects & activities The project was initiated and so far continuing in sole partnership with KARRTABYA (KAR) ­ a local NGO, with the following main objectives: a) to spread awareness among farmers to various improved techniques for raising productivity of rice; b) to promote scientific cultivation of high-value vegetables and other cash crops, for enabling farmers to increase their earnings. From the outset, major attention was given on spreading wide awareness among local farmers to improved methods of cultivation of rice ­ the mainstay of agriculture in the area. With the adoption of the new cluster-based extension approach in the second half of 2008 ­ 9, greater emphasis is laid on holding cluster-level meetings with small groups of farmers rather than centralised workshops at KARRTABYA office. In order to cater to the needs of the new wider reach out approach, the project extension team was suitably expanded both at supervisory (3) and grassroots levels (10, including a woman). The new team members are also being trained to become capable of handling the responsibility. Although 11 different clusters were identified, due to the distance factor of some of these and limited field staff, effectively 7 ­ 8 were closely attended. Overall, 20 farmers meetings were held and farmers information centres have been set up at some of these. Three fullscale workshops were also held at project office, covering rice, vegetables and SRI. Improved tools viz, Kono weeders needed for cultivation by SRI, were made available in a bigger numbers. Literature in Oriya language on various cultural techniques was produced by the project and distributed amongst farmers. Promotion of oilseed cultivation was undertaken jointly with the Govt. For the first time in the project area, high-value hybrid sunflower cultivation was successfully introduced. Also for the first time, there has been some intervention on improving improvement of irrigation facilities as two masonry wells were built in participation with farmers ­ both vegetable growers with small holdings. Distribution of fruit saplings for homestead growing was also initiated in 2008 ­ 9. KARRTABYA put up stalls at the annual ,,Kalahandi Festival at Bhawanipatna and Dharmagarh and through that spread awareness among thousands of visitors to their various activities, including those of their agriculture project with SFI. Summary of results In its mission to cover a wider area and reaching out to more no of farmers, the project succeeded in making contacts with more than 2000 farmers in 126 villages across 8 Blocks, in a radius of 55 km, during 2008 ­ 9. However,

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close networking has so far been possible with some 800 of them. Among the interventions, a major success came by way of wide adoption of SRI in achieving increased productivity in rice. This technique was introduced by SFI three years ago as the local conditions viz, flat lands, availability of canal irrigation and average low productivity, well suited it. In the kharif of 2008 ­ 9, 84 farmers in 39 villages had grown rice by SRI, under direct supervision of project staff. Most of them got high yields but a few set all-time records. In the current rabi season, a large-scale campaign is launched by the State Govt under NSFSM5. At the instance of DAO6, SFI project adopted some 200 of these for providing comprehensive technical guidance to the farmers. At least half of these have turned out to be the best SRI plots of the area. Good seed being a pre-requisite to increasing productivity, the project distributed 15 metric tons (6 tons last year) of certified rice seed among farmers of its area at the subsidized prices, in cooperation with the State Govt. This quantity was higher than at any other project. Hybrid and other improved varieties of vegetable seeds worth Rs 110,000/- (Rs 17,000/- last year) were procured for distribution at cost, as per farmers demands. A part of these were raised as seedlings at the projects poly houses and 90,000 nos. (88,000 last year) were redistributed. The next mission is to set up multiple low-cost poly houses through farmers participation. Success stories Out of many, the following success stories are short listed: Baisakhu Patel, a small-holding farmer of Village Kelia in Junagarh Block has been gainfully applying new techniques in vegetable cultivation that he learnt from the project and other sources. In 2008 ­ 9, he earned Rs 30,000/- from growing cauliflower hybrids in 2000 m2. He earned additional 30,000/- by growing hybrid tomato and other vegetables, i.e., a total of Rs 60,000/- from 3000 m2 (US$ 4100/ ha). Chandramani Sabar, a progressive farmer of Village Badbasul in Dharmagarh Block, always in search of new technologies, took interest in SRI promoted by the project and over time, perfected the required skills and also shared these with his neighbouring farmers. In 2008 ­ 9, he harvested 5.6 metric tons from 2 acres (@ 6.9 tons/ ha ­ a record yield for the area). Bankura Project Project area State ­ West Bengal; District ­ Bankura. Climate ­ tropical, sub-humid. Main soil types ­ Gangetic alluvium to red lateritic. Topography ­ flat plains to rolling plateau. Main crop ­ rainfed rice Strengths ­ Moderately high rainfall; high literacy; skilled manpower. Weaknesses ­ Rolling topography resulting in soil erosion & degradation; lack of irrigation sources; fragmented land holdings; poor awareness to advancements in agronomic techniques. Opportunities ­ Aptitude for learning new skills; nearness to markets. Threats ­ High density of population; marginalization of farming leading to livelihood insecurity.

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National Food Security Mission. District Agriculture Officer, Dharmagarh.

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Objects & activities The project was launched in pre-monsoon 2006 with primary focus on improving productivity of rice and other available options for increasing cash income. The methodologies used included farmers training ­ both on campus and at village level; facilitation in bringing within easy reach of farmers quality seeds of recommended varieties and improved farm implements, etc; trials and demonstrations of new techniques and crop varieties in individual farmers fields; exposure visits; farmers fair, etc. Today, over 500 farmers (100% more than last year) across 55 villages (36 last year), in a radius of 36 km (25 km last year) covering 3 Blocks (2 last year), are being served by this project. The following are the key interventions undertaken: Rice ­ Use of certified seed; scientific agronomic practices; special technologies viz, SRI & hybrids. Vegetables ­ Choice of high-value hybrids/ varieties according to land situation and season; appropriate agronomic and post-harvest handling techniques; understanding market dynamics for higher value realization. Animal husbandry & fishery ­ Advanced techniques as supplementary options for rural livelihood security. Horticulture ­ Fruit culture ­ commercial and in homesteads. Watershed development & rainwater interventions in participation with farmers. harvesting ­ Selective

Soil testing ­ revival of the old laboratory to facilitate scientific management of fertilizer in farmers fields. Summary of results In 2008, 12 metric tons (+48% over previous year) of quality rice seeds were distributed at cost among project area farmers. Of this, 28% was multiplied in farmers own fields. From a sample survey it was found that other conditions remaining the same, 10 ­ 15% yield increases were attributable to replacement of traditional farm-saved seed with certified quality seed. Presently only a small percentage of farmers are using quality seed. Therefore, a major campaign is now on to get more and more farmers to plant quality seed as a first step to increasing productivity. Trials with SRI were a major success in which 18 farmers participated and obtained an average yield increase of ~30% (max 6.7 tons/ ha). Hybrid rice was tried out by twenty-six farmers including SM campus, showed promising performance but the yield advantage was not uniform (average +18%; max 8.4 tons/ ha). This was due to heterogeneity among the farmers field conditions, irrigation facilities available, etc. Seed multiplication in farmers fields and on SM campus showed a significant increase in 2008 as the total production reached 19 tons. Out of that, 8 tons (+130% of last year) were procured by the project. These after processing will be sold to farmers in SMs own branded bags. Another milestone achieved was that of successful launching of a new improved variety of rice, Gontra Sel.-1 (renamed Gontra Bidhan-1) which yields as much as MTU-7029 but ten days sooner. Scientific cultivation of vegetables spread widely among project-area farmers as a result of continuous training sessions held and trials conducted in their fields. The most important contribution of the project

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was in guiding farmers to choose the best suited varieties. The other major role was in training them on optimum practices for nutrition and crop protection management. For those who demanded, the project also arranged to provide quality seeds and seedlings (60,000 approx, raised in SM poly houses). Minor interventions viz, improvement of natural water resources for irrigation, also enabled more number of farmers to take up vegetable cultivation and thus increase their earnings. It is estimated that there has been a three-fold increase in vegetable growing in the project area since this project was started. A special major program completed in 2009 is that of re-excavation and repair of a multi-purpose village community tank of 4 ha in Village Khata, on equal participation by local people. One hundred and fifty farming families (~20% of village population) are directly dependent on this tank. The renovated reservoir is estimated to irrigate >90 ha land (+40%), mostly vegetables. Increased water storage of the tank will also bring increased income from fish culture ­ an existing profitable activity. In order to ensure its success, the project has planned to organize training in scientific fish culture to the beneficiaries. The renovated tank would also add benefit to other uses of its water viz, ducks, farm animals, washing needs of the people, etc. A goatery development program with ,,Black Bengal breed, has just been launched in early 2009, in collaboration with SEDP Ranibandh ­ a successful NGO-led project in Bankura Dist. When fully operational, it is expected to improve livelihood security of 150 ­ 200 families across 7 villages. Distribution of ducklings of the improved ,,Khaki Campbell variety, among marginal farmer families, is continuing, subject to availability from the Govt Farm. On popular demand from farmers, propagating material of improved varieties of sugarcane was procured from Regional Research Station in Samastipur. Some of it has been distributed and some being multiplied at SMs own farm for future use. A farmers fair held for the first time in that area in January this year, was a runaway success. Attended by >1500 people in two days, the event included an exposition, a high-level seminar, an interactive farmers workshop and lively programs of folk music and dance, on both evenings Success stories Several remarkable successes were achieved by farmers of the project area. Up to the last kharif, the following were found to be most outstanding: In hybrid rice, Shyamapada Nandi of Village Khata, achieved yield of 8.4 tons/ ha, by growing NK-6301, as against the highest of 6.1 tons/ ha from variety MTU-7029, by Sitaram Maji of Bhaktabandh (+38%). In vegetables, there were many high achievers but on top of all, was Gurudas Dey of Khata who earned a net profit of Rs 14142 from a hybrid tomato plot of just 200 m2 which works out to Rs 698,897 (US$ 14,000 approx) per ha.

Conclusions & key issues

The ground that has been covered so far is more than satisfactory. Reaching out to some six thousand farmers and making many of them gainfully utilize technologies that they were hardly aware of, was no mean a feat. Enabling rank marginal farmers to earn handsome cash income from growing CHV vegetables in tiny plots of land as

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in Bankura, seemed incredible but was true. Increasing number of farmers in Jawhar had no more the need to migrate in search of labour jobs in the dry season as they had learned to earn more from growing vegetables. No one had expected that vegetable farmers of Chandrapur would be achieving yields like those in western Maharashtra or that by adopting SRI, farmers in all project areas would be able to achieve yields as high as those of progressive farmers of Punjab. These instances indicate the strengths of SFI projects. According to Sen7, "strong technological back up" and "organizational mandate in favour of small farmer-oriented agricultural development activities in resource poor areas", were among the inherent strengths of SFI. Among its weaknesses he had identified "lack of linkages with relevant development agencies at district / state level" and "weak extension back-up to provide development orientation. Both were taken into account along some of his recommendation while preparing the plan of work to pursue the new mission. At Jawhar, Kalahandi and Bankura, sufficiently strong teams are in place whose members are trained and ready for the big mission. At Chandrapur, the existing extension teams are being strengthened and the process is likely to be completed before the start of the kharif season. The next steps Starting of two new projects in typically semi-arid regions. Selective assistance on improvement of community irrigation resources to complement farmers initiative in growing cash crops. Greater emphasis on enabling farmers to play a role in the value chain. Networking with other like-minded organizations for widening the reach. Through annual fairs encourage farmers to meet & interact on a wider forum.

Key issues In order to ensure total success of SFI and its ambitious new mission, it is necessary to take up the tasks that are pending and address the key issues as listed below, on a priority basis. Build a proper organizational set up of SFI, to provide the essential services and ensure smooth running of the activities. This includes hiring/ induction of the remaining positions that are already planned. Shared services and administrative procedures should be defined. Core committee to be reorganized to periodically meet and review the functioning of SFI and provide guidance. Financing of the projects and other approved activities of SFI need to be streamlined. FCRA8-related issues need to be addressed on a priority basis.

Exit policy Projects need to be term bound, normally for 5 years but the exact period of each to be based on its relative merits and other factors. A proper exit policy has to be drawn up. The transition should be smooth and humane. At the time of pulling out, SFI could consider providing a one-time grant to its partner so as enable it to start a viable operation in participation with local farmers.

_________________________________________ 7 Prof Dibyendu Sen, former Director of Extension of BCKV ­ the state agri-university of West Bengal submitted his evaluation report on SFI projects in Sep 08. 8 There are issues pending with Govt of Indias Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, under which SFI receives funding from SFSA and SIL. PRD/ 14 Apr ,,09/ Revd 15 Apr09

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