This was the first project developed by Syngenta Foundation India (SFI) to provide sustainable and viable options in agriculture for farming communities. The project was initiated in 2004, in partnership with an internationally known non-governmental organization, the Maharogi Sewa Samiti (MSS).
Maharogi Sewa Samiti has several communities for treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients. However, even after being cured, most of these lepers continued to be disowned by their community. It was necessary to provide a vocation for them. As most of these lepers were rural people, farming was taken up.
The challenge - increasing yield to feed more
Rice, wheat, and vegetables were grown, but as the food requirement of the growing communities was increasing, MSS was continuously looking for means to increase productivity on the farms.
This is where SFI came through, facilitating water resource development and application of suitable technological options on the farms of MSS at Somnath and Anandwan. At the same time, the Foundation provided a full-time agricultural extension manager, Sharad Dobole, who manages operations at the sites.
The Chandrapur Center mainly concentrates on facilitating productivity increase through paddy-based technological options in both farms under MSS and in farmers' fields in the areas around the farms.
Hybrid vegetable cultivation technique was the other category of technological option chosen and was supported by vermi-compost technique.
Major Options Chosen for Technology Intervention in Chandrapur Center
|1.||Cultivation technique of high yielding and hybrid paddy varieties|
|2.||Paddy cultivation through systematic rice improvement technique (SRI)|
|3.||Seed treatment technique of paddy|
|4.||Weed control technique through herbicide application in paddy field|
|5.||Technique of paddy seed production at the farmer level|
|6.||Techniques of operating bullock drawn and tractor drawn seed drill|
|7.||Techniques of hybrid vegetable cultivation (kharif and rabi (autumn and spring))|
|9.||Ridge and furrow technique of soybean cultivation|
Fruit cultivation technique
Productivity increased dramatically from the start of the project up to mid-2008 at both farms supported by the project.
Crop productivity increases:
- Rice - 6%
- Wheat - 260% (with no increase in the area)
- Soybean - 1042%
- Chilli - 500%.
Total farm income in Somnath rose continuously since the start of the project in 2004. While the gross farm income in 2004 and 2005 was INR 25.72 lakh, it progressively increased to INR 31.27 lakh in 2005 and 2006, INR 31.73 lakh in 2006 and 2007 and INR 46.65 lakh in 2007 and 2008, corresponding to annual rates of increase by 125%, 126.7%, and 186.3%, respectively.
Crop productivity increases:
- Soybean - 12%
- Wheat - 40%.
Other crops, though grown on a smaller scale, also registered an increase in productivity:
- Gram - 25%
- Red gram - 100%
- Onion - 150%
- Only chilli recorded a decline in productivity.
Total farm income in Anandwan center also registered increase during 2005 through 2008. From a total of INR 11.39 lakh in 2005 and 2006, it had risen to INR 20.73 lakh in 2007 and 2008. Thus, the increase was by 182%. The most important contribution towards this increased farm income came from soybean (71.54%).