In 2006, Syngenta Foundation India (SFI), in partnership with Pragati Pratisthan, started its agricultural development project in villages in the Jawhar area in Maharashtra. SFI provided support through Agriculture Extension Services providing technological options and various other forms of support to enable the farmers in the region to increase productivity of their land.
The Challenge - Using appropriate technology for growth and income
Traditionally, agriculture was not enough for subsistence for resource-poor farmers. Most parts of the region consisted of hilly terrain which can be used only for marginal crops such as lesser millets. Cash insecurity compelled farmers to migrate to cities as unskilled labour. There was widespread perception that farming is not a dependable source of income, and that advanced agronomy is seen as risky and not remunerative. Furthermore, public irrigation resources, although limited, remained underutilized. Most people in the region preferred seeking a job rather than farming as a full-time activity.
In addition to the partnership developed with Pragati Pratisthan, SFI also started collaborating with Bharat Agro-Industries Foundation (BAIF) – an internationally acclaimed non-government organization, known for their contribution to watershed and animal resource development. Collaboration began in 2007-08, with the taking up of one acre plots from each of twelve participating farmers for raising fruits and forest species and growing of vegetable in the inter-space.
With such dual collaboration, the project at Jawhar is striving towards developing agriculture by working with poor tribal farmers and creating regular source of income at village level.
SFI provides a full time Agricultural Extension Manager, Amol M. Pawar, who supervises a team of field extensionists and follows up on the project activities and results.
Below is a list of activities developed during the last two years:
- Introduction of Hybrid Paddy and SRI (method and result demonstration)
- Paddy Seed Production (method and result demonstration)
- Hybrid Vegetables (method demonstration)
- Farmers' Training Program
- Harvest Hungama (result demonstration)
- Low cost Poly Houses
- Agricultural Information Center
- Kitchen Garden
- Farmers' Tours
- Diesel Engines
- Seed Distribution Program
- Horticultural Development (WADI)
- Kharif Vegetable Cultivation
- Farm water Reservoirs
While paddy was traditionally cultivated in Jawhar, vegetables were almost non-existent in the cropping schedule. Now, farmers are learning to cultivate vegetables and increase income. Farmers in Jawhar have witnessed an increase of 150%, 16.71 qtls. per acre, with the use of high yielding varieties, up from the average paddy yield of 11.15 qtls. per acre. Again, with the hybrid varieties and application of SRI, yield has increased by 200% (22.34 qtls./acre).
The total gross income from 18.58 acres of vegetable crops grown by the targeted farmers came to INR 4.7 lakh (470,000 rupees) with per acre return of INR 0.25 lakh (25,000 rupees). As vegetable growing was almost non-existent before the project got underway, the gain thus made was total, especially considering that earlier these lands were mainly lying fallow.