Sustainable agriculture and food security are necessary to the economic well-being of small and marginal farmers in rural India.
Excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has increased the cost of crop production in the region. Farmers are unable to get good returns on their investments, leading them into debt traps. In addition to affecting the farmers economically and socially, the excessive use of chemicals also damages soil fertility and results in unhealthy crop, affecting human health and the environment.
Continuous depletion of ground water and unreliable rains are becoming a grave threat to small-scale farming. Overwhelmed by the challenges, many farmers in India are driven to suicide.
HOW WE ARE HELPING
Tank De-siltation: We encourage farmers to renovate abandoned traditional water reservoirs, as they contain an accumulation of natural silt which can be used as fertilizers to increase soil fertility. During the monsoon, water accumulates in the reservoirs, allowing for replenishment of the groundwater. The availability of water throughout the year allows fisherman to raise fish and farmers’ cattle also benefit from improved food and water sources. Using the existing infrastructure requires no technical expertise and keeps costs down. The beneficiaries contribute an impressive 70 percent of the cost of removing the silt and transporting it to their farms. Numerous social, economic and environmental benefits result from this project, impacting the whole community.
OUR 360° COMMUNITY DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT APPROACH
Our Organic Farming program is catching on as the farmers share their stories of improved yield and increased profits with neighbors and friends. Some have set up demo farms on the sides of highways to attract further public attention, as they have realized the importance of organic cultivation to health and environmental sustainability. Besides the regular trainings, monitoring visits and constant mentoring, our farmers are taken on to exposure visits to other organizations to learn different methods of increasing soil fertility, bacterial composition and better crop. At the heart of this program is transforming the farmers into organic ambassadors.
Farmer groups contribute 70% of the cost of a tank de-siltation program, which shows the level of their involvement and therefore, the depth of their understanding on the significant social, environmental and economic benefits through this activity. De-siltation committees are trained in program management and implementation, and it is they who lead the project under guidance from Bala Vikasa. Once completed, they show initiative in taking up extensive tree plantation in their schools, homes, shared spaces and farms.