Smallholders India - Bankura project

The challenge - diversifying sources of income through hybrid vegetables

Syngenta Foundation India (SFI) works with the NGO Shamayita Math in Bankura. The organization's experience handling agriculture-based projects, most of which focus on technology transfer among the rural populace, led SFI to identify Shamayita Math as the partner organization for implementing the project activities for the Bankura center.

Having initiated the activities in 2006 and 2007 in selected villages of Gangajalghati Block, the center focused on increasing agricultural productivity by transfer of appropriate technological options to the resource-poor farmers thereby creating a regular source of income at the village level. Towards fulfillment of such goals, the Bankura center made a series of individual as well as group level interventions in selected villages.


Rice-based farming

Paddy, the major crop cultivated during kharif (autumn) was being grown under rain-fed conditions. Very few farmers having access to irrigation (ponds & rivulets) chose to cultivate paddy in summer. Thus, rice-based technologies like hybrid/HY varieties and Systematic Rice Intensification (SRI) were highly relevant for the farmers of the area. The majority of farmers are smallholders with their crop meeting mainly their subsistence requirements, while few of the big farmers sold their surplus in the market.

Vegetable-based farming

Although located in the midst of a paddy-based faming system, vegetables have formed an important component in the cropping sequence of the villagers (other than tribals). By supplying quality seeds and seedlings of various vegetable crops, the project has encouraged these farmers to resort to commercial vegetable farming. Interventions such as tank re-excavation also motivated farmers to attempt vegetable farming. Short duration paddy varieties, like GS I, were in great demand for accommodating potato, vegetable, and wheat in their cropping sequence.

With a number of growth centers like Raniganj, Durgapur, and Asansol located within 40 to 45 km from the project area, the profitability of commercial vegetable farming has been well established and farmers are further encouraged.

Technological options

The following is a list of the options identified by the center for facilitating their transfer among the target farmers:

  1. Rice-based technologies: consisting of hybrid/HYV paddy cultivation and paddy cultivation with application of SRI technique.
  2. Vegetable-based technologies: including techniques of hybrid vegetable cultivation (kharif and rabi (spring)), vegetable farming in vested land, induced ripening technique (tomato ripening with ethylene), and kitchen gardening.
  3. Technologies which support the previous two categories: such as low-cost nursery raising technique, seed treatment technique and crop protection technique.
  4. A “mixed bag” of technologies: those that do not have any direct bearing on any of the earlier three categories. This category consisted of land shaping (5%) and animal husbandry (goat/duck rearing).

2015: Project partner wins prestigious award

Our project partner in Bankura, Shamayita Math, has won the Krishi Sahyog Samman. This national award from the Mahindra tractor company recognizes "purposeful contributions that make a difference in the field of agriculture". The focus is on increasing productivity and enhancing rural prosperity. 

Shamayita Math is a female-run NGO established in 1996. Its motto is “Serving the underserved, marginalized and the poor”. Syngenta Foundation India (SFI) has worked closely with its agricultural wing, called Shamayita Krishi Kendra.  "This has evolved into a major institution providing valuable service to local farmers", says SFI Director Baskar Reddy. Areas of expertise include agronomy, seed production, crop protection, soil health testing and watershed development. "Our continuing partnership has helped Bankura to emerge as a viable new location for producing quality hybrid vegetable seeds", adds Reddy.

At the award ceremony on 24th February 2015, India's Minister of Agriculture, Radha Mohan Singh, presented the trophy and financial prize to Mother Rishi Riddha Anahata, Secretary to Shamayita Math. Congratulations!