In Search of Ways to Sustainability of Smallholder Farming

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1 In Search of Ways to Sustainability of Smallholder Farming AGRO BIHAR 2014 Agriculture at the Crossroads: Issues and Challenges Related to Inputs, Farmer Education, Agriculture Produce Marketing, Post Harvest Infrastructure and Market Access Patna, February 22, 2014 Partha R Das Gupta Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture

2 Declining size of holdings a major concern Census 2011: Average size of farm land holding decreased further to 1.16 ha. NSSO data: Up to the beginning of the millennium, smallholdings still showed higher farm productivity than of large units but lower per capita output. Now, viability of small holdings is at a threat, so also the livelihood security of these farmers. Way out, according to experts: Further increase in productivity & generating more off-farm rural employment opportunities. Ref. Chand, Ramesh et al., 2011 and Kulkarni, Vishwanath,

3 Basic needs of farmers whether small or large Genetics and plant breeding Soil fertility solutions Crop protection Irrigation Mechanization Technology Services Agricultural extension Better organization Financial services Connectivity Transport Storage Information Logistics Contracts Access to markets Millions of small farmers are reached commercially through farm inputs, but remain starved of services and have weak access to market 3

4 Ways to increasing income opportunities of smallholders Trial attempts by SFI*: Main considerations I. Increasing productivity II. Aggregation of farmers into producers groups For attaining viable scale of operation. Adoption of advanced agronomic techniques & inputs. Choice of high-value crops e.g., vegetables Higher value of produce from small farming units. Improving access to market For realizing a better share of the value chain. Meeting capital requirements and risk mitigation are also important. * Syngenta Foundation India a not-for-profit organisation started in

5 Conceptual model and expectations from it Knowledge Tools On-the-ground support centered on agricultural extension Supporting activities Technology, products of relevance, including crop varieties Opportunity Policy, thought leadership, financial mechanisms, markets development Outcome Impact 5

6 Trying out through projects* Delhi (Office) Central India 1.Madhya Pradesh 2. Maharashtra KESLA Western India: Maharashtra JAWHAR MOKHADA ASHTI Anandwan (AITA) BOUDH BANKURA PURULIA Eastern India 1.West Bengal 2.Orissa KALAHANDI Pune (Regd. Office) MAHABUBNAGAR South India Andhra Pradesh * Located in disadvantaged areas

7 Basic interventions: (A) Farmers training classes Chandrapur Bankura Kalahandi Jawhar

8 Plant health clinic in Somnath diagnosis and remedy in the field Field school farmers learning from one another in Kesla (B) Field demonstrations and on-farm schools Raising quality vegetable seedlings in Anandwan Technique of growing rice by SRI in Bankura

9 (C) Services and facilitations necessary Working with farmers groups in clusters of villages. Guiding them on choice of crops e.g., A balance of staple and cash crops like vegetables. Helping farmers to access quality inputs Also, involving them in participatory seed multiplication and raising young plants (seedlings). Improving water resources for irrigation Rainwater harvesting, community wells, tanks, etc. based on guidance from agri varsity and other experts. Introduction of new tools and equipment e.g., Markers & kono weeders for promoting SRI; Pumps, sprayers, etc., for community use. 9

10 Introduction of affordable new technologies Low-cost poly house for raising vegetable seedlings in Kalahandi Low-cost drip irrigation system for chilli cultivation in Jawhar Very low-cost tunnel for vegetable seedlings Ventury attachment on low-cost drip lines for fertigation 10

11 More new technologies for smallholding farming Direct-sowing of aerobic rice using Happy Seeder Hi-tech cultivation of chilli with plastic mulch & drip irrigation Mechanized transplanting of rice Combine harvesting of rice on custom-hiring basis 11

12 Initial learnings (from Phase-I) Technology helps farmer achieve higher production Bigger quantity fetches more income. Vegetables generate higher value per unit area, hence, - Its cultivation is well suited to smallholder farmers. However, Optimum realization of value-chain share by farmer is not possible without proper access to market; Individual farmers not in a position to deal directly with the market. Therefore, Aggregation and collective marketing of produce are necessary for increasing farm income in real terms. 12

13 Phase-II: Shifting focus on access to market Basic features of the initiative Started in 2010 with one project. Groups formed of vegetable growers from 2-3 nearby villages. Produce aggregated at collection centre, sorted, weighed & packed. Transported to market for selling. Encouraging initial experience prompted scaling up Also taken up in other projects, with - Emphasis on production planning based on market demands; - Collection centres into hubs ; - Tracking prices in different markets; - Lead farmers managing business. More challenging than achieving higher yields. THEN NOW 13

14 III. New skills & practices for assured farm income Hybrid Tomato Seed Production in West Bengal Small-scale trials began in Initial training from growers in Maharashtra. Scaled up from Commercial production by 20 growers in Net income ranged from Rs. 86k to 260k/ acre in one season. Not perishable; nor affected by price fluctuations in the market. A farmer s seed production plot under net house with drip irrigation, in Bankura District. Outcome A new cropping option for West Bengal. 14

15 Other income enhancing ventures A) Hybrid rice seed production in Kalahandi ( ) Right agro-climate with irrigation. Farmers achieving good seed yield & high purity. Net income Rs. 23k/ acre in summer (double of normal). On contract with seed cos. Also, promising trials are on with hybrid maize & sunflower seeds. Kalahandi emerging as India s alternative seed production area B) Fresh vegetables for export In partnership with FFF. Chilli, beans and others. Good production & quality achieved by farmers of a backward area. Hybrid rice seed production in Kalahandi Hybrid green chilli in Mokhada for export to UK 15

16 Kesla Project a unique experience From subsistence on cereals to cash income from vegetables SFI-PRADAN initiative since , in Betul & partly Hoshangabad. - >80% tribals; <10% literate;~1/3 rd villages connected by road; - Cereal yields <national average. After 3 years of intensive working - >1k families initiated into vegetable cultivation but on small patches; - Farm income increased from <Rs 10k to 30k/ annum/ acre - Not enough for a family of five. Major constraints - Lack of adequate irrigation facilities; - Poor risk-taking ability of farmers; - Lack of expertise in marketing. Sustainability is still a long way! 16

17 Summary Learnings from 7 projects (11 centres); >30k farmers Productivity is increased when technology is adopted. Brings partial increase in farmer s income. Not enough for sustainably securing livelihood of small farmer. Improving farmer s access to market is important. Formation of producers groups is a prerequisite; Production planning to be based on current market trends; Volumes are important, hence, Aggregation of produce & collective marketing, are necessary. Lead farmers play a key role Tracking prices at different markets & choosing best options; Assessing profitability of operation & running it like a business. For attaining sustainability, producers groups need to form a federation and run it without external handholding. 17

18 The bottom line Poor access to technology e.g., knowledge, inputs & techniques main reason for smallholders not achieving optimum productivity, especially those in remote areas. For cash income & livelihood security, vegetables need to be included in cropping system but these farmers are unable to do so because of Lack of capital to invest in inputs; getting credit is difficult; Limitations in irrigation facilities; Scared of taking risks; Poor access to market; net value realization not attractive. Shrinking size of holdings making farming less viable Consolidation needed through formation of farmers groups Collective planning of production & marketing of the produce. Turnaround not possible without state support & PPP 18

19 Thank You! 19

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