UN climate summit: Pune-based BAIF’s ‘Wadi’ model discussed in COP

UN climate summit: Pune-based BAIF’s ‘Wadi’ model discussed in COP

The annual outreach of BAIF is about 3.3 million families in 325 districts of 13 states. (Express photo)

Nov 17, 2022

‘Wadi’ model, meant to help tribal and small landholders, allows the landholder to plant food crops for commercial sales and self-consumption. It was examined during the session held to discuss ways and means to increase organic carbon in the soil.

The ‘Wadi’ development model introduced by the Pune-headquartered BAIF Development Research Foundation (known as BAIF) that promotes fruit trees and forestry in the farming system was discussed at the ongoing Conference of Parties (COP) session in Egypt. The summit is being held as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

This programme, which is aimed at improving livelihood and giving access to nutrition for small landholders, was examined during the session held to discuss ways and means to increase organic carbon in soil.

Bharat Kakade, president and managing trustee, and senior thematic programme executives Sadashiv Nimbalkar, Yogesh Sawant and Raosaheb Kote represented the organisation at the 27th edition of COP session.

BAIF has been working on various initiatives mainly aimed at improving the livelihoods of poor families in rural areas along with conserving the natural resources. As BAIF’s programme focuses on sustainable development of communities with strong emphasis on climate change adaptation and mitigation, the key initiatives include agri-horti-forestry-based ‘Wadi’ programme, dairy, animal husbandry and soil health for food security and land degradation control for integrated and sustainable development in high-altitude and arid as well as semi-arid rainfed agriculture areas in India.

The annual outreach of BAIF is about 3.3 million families in 325 districts of 13 states.

The ‘Wadi’ model is meant to help tribal and small landholders. It allows the landholder to do horticulture and plant food crops on the land both for commercial sales and self-consumption by the farmer. Through this programme, BAIF encourages farmers to make the most of their holdings while ensuring food security and fixing organic carbon through sustainable agricultural practices.

Kakade highlighted how BAIF was closely connected with food security and carbon emission reduction initiatives. “BAIFs mission is to create opportunities for self-employment for needy families in the villages. The typical issues faced by small farmers in India are degraded lands, poor soil health resulting in low crop productivity thereby affecting the livelihoods of the poor. Several small holding farmers depend on seasonal migration for their livelihoods,” he said.

He further mentioned that BAIF has evolved and upscaled the Wadi-based programme (agri-horti-forestry) which has generated livelihood opportunities for 0.2 million smallholder farmers in their own land through capacity-building, skilling, training, and support for planting trees. The fruit trees are planted on the farm and forestry trees on the borders. Short gestation crops are cultivated in the interspaces. The production is aggregated and marketed by the farmer cooperatives.

The Wadi model would also sequester a significant quantity of carbon. BAIF expressed its decision to align its programmes with the strategic low-emissions development transitions outlined in India’s long-term Low Emissions Development Strategies (LT-LEDS) document released by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav at the India pavilion at the COP session on November 14.


Innovations during the pandemic will have a positive impact on agriculture

Innovations during the pandemic will have a positive impact on agriculture

Aug 23, 2022

On the eve of BAIF’s 56th Foundation Day on Wednesday, Kakade spoke to The Indian Express about the state of agriculture in rural India.

Indian agriculture can easily lap up new technology and it is technology that will allow the sector to go to the next level, Bharat Kakade, president and managing trustee of Pune-headquartered BAIF Development Research Foundation, said. BAIF aims to help rural communities through various interventions. On the eve of BAIF’s 56th Foundation Day on Wednesday, Kakade spoke to The Indian Express about the state of agriculture in rural India.

Q. How has Indian agriculture fared in the post-Covid era? Agriculture, along with IT, were the only two fields that had shown positive growth during the pandemic, so expectations from both were high. Has the growth continued and what has been your observation in terms of changes that took place in the sector?

The pandemic years saw Indian agriculture rising to the occasion and ensuring food security and employment to migrants. We saw a lot of grassroot-level innovations in the sector which made a positive impact in various parts of the agricultural value chain. The innovations were mainly in the way farmers marketed their products or accessed inputs and allowed direct connections between producers and consumers in both cases.

Agriculture is perhaps the only sector where the producer has little say in determining the price of the end product. These innovations eliminated many layers between the producer and the consumer and allowed price discovery between both. These movements ultimately will have a very positive impact on agriculture.

Q. Direct access to markets has been a long-standing demand of the agriculture sector. How do you think these innovations can help achieve the same?

We have seen good pilots wherein producers and consumers were able to directly deal with each other. Also, we saw inputs required by farmers being supplied directly to them without having to deal with various layers associated with the present value chain. Such pilots have proved that these models can work and we in BAIF would be working on them.

In recent times, awareness about good quality food has risen and it can only be possible for the consumer if it is directly sourced. Thus, these models and this awareness will help in changing the ecosystem in a better way.

Q. Technology like drones has now been allowed for use in the agricultural sector. While such technology is always welcome, do you think the sector has the necessary bandwidth, in terms of knowledge and accessibility, to use such technology?

When it comes to mobile phones, India has an enviable penetration of more than 95 per cent. This figure is huge and shows that our country has the appetite for technology. Mobile phones, other than allowing for connectivity, have also opened a new world for farmers. Now, they use it to value-add to their practices and get knowledge about this. We at BAIF use this to push knowledge and services directly at the grassroot level. In fact, our E Dost project trains women in the village to run mobile-based services like filling in forms etc.

Thus, technology like drones will help the farmers but they have to be made accessible. BAIF has always been working on making technology accessible both in terms of usage and fees. Low cost solutions are needed for technology to be made accessible for all. Technology will allow the sector to go to the next level and I am sure it will be seen in the next few years.

Q. In the coming years, what would be BAIF’s focus in terms of work?

As I mentioned earlier, we would be working on access to markets as well as ensuring inputs reach farmers directly. Another area of focus would be making agriculture adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects. Another important sector which we would be working on is to scale up women leadership in agriculture. The participation of women in agriculture is huge but we want them to take ownership of their work in the sector.

How Coal India’s initiative turned barren land into profitable farmland in Odisha villages

How Coal India’s initiative turned barren land into profitable farmland in Odisha villages

May 24, 2022

Bipin Behera, 78, from Basiapada village in Jujumura block of Odisha’s Sambalpur district could barely make ends meet. The few acres of land he owned in a hilly, forested area were uncultivable. Poverty and the vicious cycle of debt had wreaked havoc on 27,000 farmer families in the coal mining districts of Angul, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur and Sundargarh. But things began to change in 2019 with ‘Utthan’, a community development programme initiated by Mahanadi Coalfields, a subsidiary of Coal India Limited (CIL).

The Rs 20.3 crore CSR (corporate social responsibility) project has helped convert barren lands into high-yielding assets and create sustainable farm livelihoods in 40 villages, benefitting approximately 25,000 people. The project has not only improved the economic status of 6,200 poor SC/ ST/ OBC households but also created a model for farm sector development that is being replicated by the wider community in the state. “The interventions made by Utthan are bearing positive results in terms of livelihood,” says B. Sairam, executive director (CSR), CIL.

The new farming model adopted is Wadi cultivation and includes inter-cropping with seasonal vegetables and horticulture (mango, lemon and custard apple, etc). Since adopting Wadi, Behera in March 2021 reported an income of Rs 68,000 from half acre of farm over a period of 18 months. He expects his annual farm income to stabilise at a minimum Rs 60,000 within five years of starting Wadi cultivation, once the trees bear fruit to their full potential.

Behera’s is one of the 6,500 farmer families to have benefitted from Utthan. According to CIL, the aim of the CSR initiative was to uplift the socio-economic status of 27,000 SC/ ST/ OBC people living in the project area. Implemented by the Pune-based not-for-profit BAIF (formerly Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation) in a phased manner, Utthan aims to create sustainable livelihoods through a range of innovative farm-sector interventions related to agriculture, dairy, goatery, mushroom cultivation, backyard poultry, fodder development, etc.

Utthan also has additional goals of capacity-building and improving the overall quality of life by promoting sanitation, education and menstrual hygiene. In the long run, the project aims to showcase a self-sufficient and inclusive development model that is worthy of replication by the wider community.

Tribal villager Nala Pradhan’s revived fortunes is an example of the wide-ranging change that Utthan is bringing about. Pradhan owns three acres of land. Till 2019, he grew paddy on two acres. The rest of the land was unfit for cultivation. Since switching to Wadi cultivation, a large portion of the barren land now has 28 apple and 30 mango trees, from which he has earned nearly Rs 46,000 since early 2021. Inter-cropping fetched another Rs 60,000. Pradhan’s earnings are set to go up in the mango harvesting season. His success has convinced 25 other poor households to adopt Wadi; they were helped by BAIF with critical information on market access and price realisation.

Apart from farming, Utthan is also helping creating water storage capacities. Ponds are being dug and the base covered with polythene sheets to hold runoff water and stop seepage. To help reduce the cost of farming, Utthan has set up solar pumps in villages. These are operated by a self-help group of farmers who benefitted from the project.

For Wadi development, farmers bear 10 per cent of the cost of components (fertiliser, plants, fencing material, etc) and 40 per cent of the cost of labour. Farmers’ contribution to labour cost is higher to encourage families to provide free labour and reduce the loss of man-days.

There are many other success stories of Utthan. Saudamini Barik, a 38-year-old OBC resident of Birsinghgarh village in Sambalpur, started mushroom cultivation with 20 beds in 2019. Today, it has expanded to 200 beds. In the past year and a half, Barik has earned nearly Rs 1 lakh.

Utthan had so far set up 244 wadis, converting 122 acres of barren land into flourishing plantations. Some 935 paddy farmers witnessed a 15-20 per cent rise in their yield. Utthan aims to extend the coverage to 2,500 paddy farmers over the next five years.

Since vegetable farming is an important component of Utthan, efforts are on to train farmers to adopt newer techniques, such as trellis cultivation, to improve yield. More than 500 families have benefitted from this initiative alone. Irrigation potential has increased in at least 50 acres through measures like water harvesting, surface storage (50 new ponds storing 4 million litres), and setting up of eight solar pumps. Additionally, close to 800 families are getting better returns from livestock through dairy activities, goatery and poultry while 600 families have set up kitchen gardens to grow nutritional vegetables.

Visit of NABARD Team to Climate Change Adaptation Programme in Uttarakhand

Visit of NABARD Team to Climate Change Adaptation Programme in Uttarakhand

April 16, 2022

NABARD General Manager, Mr. Bhaskar Pant, visited various projects under Climate Change Adaptation Programme implemented by BAIF Development Research Foundation in Narsinh Danda, Goshani, Manar and Khetikhan villages in Champawat district of Uttarakhand and interacted with the project participants.

The projects covers vegetable cultivation in bamboo poly houses, drip irrigation, spring rejuvenation, rain water harvesting tank, fodder cultivation, livestock development and breeding services.  He was accompanied by Mr. Amit Pandey, District Manager, NABARD, Mr. Pushkar Singh Bisht, Mr. Pratap Rawat, Mr. Devendra Singh Dumaga and Mr. Bhuvan Chandra from BAIF. 

Dr. Dinesh Ratudi, Additional Thematic Programme Executive, BAIF, provided detailed information about these projects and he also highlighted the fact that the Climate Change Adaptation Programme was one of the six programmes supported by Adaptation Fund Board India whose main objective was to mitigate the effects of climate change and to increase the income of farmers.

Women’s Day Celebrated in Rajasthan

Women’s Day Celebrated in Rajasthan

85 women beneficiaries of Mission Sunehra Kal, being implemented in Lunkaransar, Bikaner district, participated enthusiastically in the celebration organised at Garbedeshwar village on March 8, 2022. Sarpanch of the village, Kavita Swami, Scientists from Krishi Vigyan Kendra Lunakaransar, Dr. Richa Pant and Dr. Bhagawat Singh and Smt. Poonam Mahala, Principal, Senior Secondary School and Smt. Krishna Devi from Urmul Sansthan were present on the occasion. The guests provided detailed information about various Government programmes and schemes for women, capacity building and cottage industries and promotion of kitchen gardens for nutritional security of the family. The project aims at strengthening arid farming system for sustainable development, promote NRM-based activities and Integrated Agricultural Practices and strengthen the local community through the formation of village development centres.

The event was celebrated under the HDFC-supported Holistic Rural Development Programme at Lalsot Kasbe cluster office in Dausa district on March 7, 2022 through prize distribution and participation of 36 women in various events such as musical chairs, lemon and spoon race and other competitions which were enjoyed by the participating women.

The Sustainable Agriculture Management and Development by Human Action for Nature (Samadhan) Project organised an event – Sakhi Utsav at Rajpura Dariba in Rajsamand district with successful women farmers, enlisting the enthusiastic participation of 135 women beneficiaries. The project is being implemented in 174 villages of 5 districts in association with Hindustan Zinc Ltd. Multi-sectoral interventions aiming at socio-economic well-being of the rural community are being promoted through various agriculture and livestock-based activities resulting in enhanced income and improved productivity.

Tractor Training drives Champion Rural Women into the Future

Tractor Training drives Champion Rural Women into the Future

February 26, 2022

Under Phase II of the Prerna project supported by Mahindra & Mahindra, more than 100 champion women farmers from 10 villages of Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh, were trained in tractor driving at Amajhir village on February 26, 2022, thereby demonstrating that women are nowhere behind men. Apart from taking up various modern farming technologies to improve their agricultural productivity, these champion women have also shown their confidence and enthusiasm to demonstrate women power by driving heavy farm machinery vehicles. These enthusiastic women were hailed by Shri. Karan Singh Verma, MLA and former Revenue Minister, Government of Madhya Pradesh, who shared the heroic deeds of Ahilyabai Holkar and called upon these women to create a band of empowered champion farmers among future generations too and to focus on bumper agricultural yield through adoption of modern cropping practices and improved seeds.

CAZRI Officials visit BAIF Desert Research Centre at Barmer

CAZRI Officials visit BAIF Desert Research Centre at Barmer

A team of senior scientists from Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI) Jodhpur headed by Dr. Akath Singh, Principal Scientist, visited the BAIF Desert Research Centre at Barmer on February 19, 2022. The team interacted with the farmers on the improvement in productivity of harvested rainwater in traditional water harvesting structures through integration of horticulture and agroforestry system and also visited the farmers’ fields and were appreciative of the programme undertaken by BAIF. Dr. Raghvendra Dubey, Thematic Programme Executive and Mr. D.K. Tiwari, Additional Chief Programme Executive from BAIF accompanied the team on their visit.

SBI Gram Seva Programme Launched

SBI Gram Seva Programme Launched

The State Bank of India Gram Seva Programme, a CSR initiative with BAIF Institute for Sustainable Livelihoods and Development (BISLD) Andhra Pradesh, for integrated rural development through adoption of five villages, was launched in Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on January 26, 2022. The event was graced by the Regional State Bank of India Foundation Officer, M. Saibaba, Head of Gram Panchayats of the selected villages and Government officials and Mr. Gopal Reddy, Additional Chief Programme Executive, BISLD – Andhra Pradesh and his team.

BAIF Kisan Mart and Cow’s Milk ATM Launched at Urulikanchan

BAIF Kisan Mart and Cow’s Milk ATM Launched at Urulikanchan

January 26, 2022

BAIF launched the first ever Cow’s Milk ATM and Kisan Mart at the Community Health and Research Centre (CHRC), Urulikanchan on January 26, 2022, thereby setting a precedent in the region.

The Kisan Mart initiative aims at supplying superior quality mineral mixture, fodder seeds, organic liquid fertilizers, vermicompost, BioPROM, solar dried edible products and silk accessories to farmers, milk producers and consumers at an attractive price.

The Cow’s Milk ATM aims at supplying superior quality milk of exotic breeds raised at BAIF’s farm and promoting this enterprise through Self Help Groups (SHGs) and farmers’ organizations. Consumers wishing to avail of this facility, are making use of the RFID cards generated under this technology, for dispensing milk from the ATM.

These facilities were inaugurated by the good supporters of BAIF’s Programmes and revered leaders of Urulikanchan.

BAIF and Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Tondapur successfully demonstrate new agricultural technologies

BAIF and Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Tondapur successfully demonstrate new agricultural technologies

December 15, 2021

BAIF and Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Tondapur in Hingoli district of Maharashtra, successfully demonstrated new agricultural technologies in Soya bean cultivation for increasing the crop yield. The programme was implemented under the National Food Security Mission at Taktoda village, Sengaon in Hingoli district. The village had recorded an average yield of 14 quintals of Soya bean per hectare. 25 farmers from the village were selected for the demonstration with an aim to increase the productivity up to 25 quintals of Soya bean per hectare during the Kharif season of 2021.

One of the participants in the demonstration, Rahul Kavhar, recorded an yield of 35.72 quintals per hectare while experimenting with the raised bed technique. He cultivated a Soya bean variety developed by Mahatma Phule Agriculture University, Rahuri. He was guided by the technical experts of KVK, Tondapur.

Women Agrobiodiversity Conservationists

Women Agrobiodiversity Conservationists

December 12, 2021

Seed savers and women farmers such as Rahibai Popere and Mamta Bhangare from Akole, Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, among others, have pioneered a movement to preserve traditional seeds while giving a boost to agriculture within the tribal community. These two enterprising women are active members of a community seed bank and seed saver group – ‘ Kalsubai Parisar Biyane Sanvardhan Samajik Sanstha’. This community seed bank was awarded the 2021 National Plant Genome Saviour Community Award by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Government of India on November 11, 2021 in New Delhi. Mamta Bhangare from Devgaon village won acclaim for her conservation and cultivation techniques of wild vegetables while relying on organic farming and innovative vermin briquettes. She received the National Genome Saviour Farmer Award from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Government of India on November 11, 2021 in New Delhi.