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Agriculture and Rural Development

Bringing technology to the doorsteps of India’s smallholder farmers for climate resilience

Priti Kumar's picture

Photo by Nitish Kumar Singh“I walk through three farm plots of my fellow farmers every day to examine the crop growth and occurrences of pest attacks or crop failure. I send photo alerts via my smart phone to Cropin, which sends an advisory within a few minutes to remedy the problem, said Pratima Devi, a climate smart village resource professional in Manichak village in the Barachatti block of Gaya district in Bihar, India.
 
Cropin Technology Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a private software and mobile apps company, has developed digital applications to advise farmers on ways to achieve optimal harvests, depending on weather conditions, soil and other indicators. In less than a month, Pratima Devi completes a visit to all the farm plots in her village that are registered to get agro-advisories. “Women farmers appreciate my efforts and have started trusting my advice because they see a positive difference on their farms,” she adds.

Ramchandra Prasad Verma has the status of a master trainer of climate-smart village resource professionals in the same Barachatti block. He succinctly explains how data on weather parameters, such as rainfall, temperature and humidity, provided by the Automatic Weather Station (AWS), which was installed by another private Indian company, Skymet, helps farmers make smarter decisions in the village. “When the AWS shows temperatures of 35-40 degree Centigrade, farmers will wait for cooler temperatures before transplanting paddy mat nurseries into the field. Otherwise, there is a fear of losing crops in high temperatures”, said Verma. Earlier farmers relied on traditional wisdom alone, but now digital information can help them make faster and better decisions on the times of sowing and harvesting.

When Verma was a village resource professional, he had raised the maximum number of alerts in Bihar and received many advisories from Cropin on sowing, soil health, seed treatment, and weather forecasts that benefitted farmers. Over time, he developed skills to interpret technical advisories, train farmers to apply information on their fields, and interact with Cropin and Skymet professionals, which earned him the status of a master trainer.

Developing resilience in agriculture to regular weather shocks in the short-term and to climate change in the medium- to long-term is one of the biggest challenges facing Indian farmers today. Large-scale pilots are being implemented in four districts of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh to test the effectiveness of digital apps to generate climate resilient solutions for farming needs. This was made possible through a public-private partnership between the State Rural Livelihood Missions in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh with  Cropin Technology and Skymet. These pioneering digital tools are being developed and utilized as part of the Sustainable Livelihoods and Adaptation to Climate Change (SLACC) Project associated with  the Government of India’s National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP).

Competitive advantage in the knowledge economy

Iftikhar Mostafa's picture

 Chhor Sokunthea / World Bank“Knowledge economy” is a term popularized by Peter Drucker in his book The Age of Discontinuity. Over the past decade, knowledge-based policies, projects and programs have increasingly become drivers of the knowledge economy. Intra and inter-institutional collaboration for sharing knowledge and experience are essential for tapping into the enormous powerhouse of indigenous, national, regional and global knowledge. The timely application of such shared knowledge can help in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

At the beginning of this summer, 60 task team leaders and investment officers from the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, regional development banks – African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank – and Rome-based UN Agencies – Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Program (WFP)– participated in a 3-day Knowledge Forum organized by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). The Forum was hosted by the FAO at its Headquarters in Rome. This was the third Knowledge Forum organized by GAFSP, a video was developed on the GAFSP 2017 Knowledge Forum.

The 2017 Knowledge Forum, one of GAFSP’s flagship events, brought together strategic and operational insights drawn from the Program’s Public and Private Sector Window projects. The Forum provided a robust and interactive platform to share tacit knowledge and experiences, including ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness of project delivery and increase impact on rural poor; to implement GAFSP’s new Monitoring and Evaluation Plan including Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES); and to implement the newly-designed GAFSP’s Operations Portal. The importance and benefits of partnering with civil society organizations like ActionAid, ROPPA (Réseau des Organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs de l"Afrique de l'Ouest) in Africa, and AFA (Asian Farmers Association) in Asia, in the design and implementation of GAFSP-supported projects were highlighted in the Forum.

Climate smart agricultural practices in Haryana, India: The way forward & challenges

Abhilaksh Likhi's picture

 Scott Wallace/ World BankThe Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) defines Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) as an approach that helps to guide actions needed to transform and reorient agricultural systems to effectively support development and ensure food security in a changing climate. Further, according to FAO, such an approach aims to tackle three main objectives: sustainably achieving agricultural productivity and incomes; adapting and building resilience to climate change; and reducing and/or removing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, where possible. Critical to achieving these objectives is a major shift in the way land, water, soil nutrients and genetic resources are managed with related shifts in local/national governance, legislation, policies, financial mechanisms and improving the farmers’ access to markets.

CSA, further, takes into consideration the diversity of social, economic and environmental contexts including agro-ecological zones/farming systems where it is to be applied. Implementation herein requires identification of integrated package of climate resilient technologies and practices for management of water, energy, land, crops, livestock, aquaculture etc at the farm level while considering the linkage between agricultural production and ecosystems services at the landscape level. Testing and applying different practices, experts opine, is important to expand the evidence base, determine which practices and extension methods are suitable in each context. This leads to identification of synergies and tradeoffs between food security, adaptation and mitigation.

CSA, thus, provides the broad enabling framework to help stakeholders, whether national or international, to identify sustainable agricultural strategies suitable to their local conditions. In this context, FAO actions in CSA e.g. policy structures, practices, investment and tools are a valuable repository for policymakers and administrators to learn about such agricultural strategies. This includes the critical baseline strategy to assess the past and future impact of climate variability on agriculture and consequent vulnerability of farming communities, especially, smallholder farmers. Needless to state that agriculture has the potential to mitigate between 5.5-6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (equivalent) annually (IPCC, 2007) with most of this potential in developing countries. Hence, to realize this potential, agricultural development efforts will have to support smallholder farmers for the uptake of climate smart practices at the farm and landscape levels and along the value chain, too.
 

Supporting creation of institutional platform of 45 million women for social and economic empowerment in rural India: The National Rural Livelihoods Mission

Parmesh Shah's picture
Jasmine cultivation

In the early morning at Dadar station in metropolitan Mumbai, a common sight is unloading of tons of jasmine and marigold flowers packed in jute sacks. Flowers come from Jawhar block located in the district of Palghar in Maharashtra. At the village the flowers are procured from each producer, weighed and packed in jute sacks. These are collected from the village bus stands and transported to Dadar in Mumbai by either bus or train. Floriculture has emerged as an alternative source of livelihood for small and marginal farmers in the region. Collective marketing has allowed small producers to aggregate and sell their flowers. Aggregation has enabled producers to realize better incomes through collective bargaining. About 3,500 women farmers have been mobilized as producer groups, and their annual turnover is expected to be around US $ 1 million in the next season.

Similarly, in four tribal districts (Koraput, Rayagada  Gajapati and Mayurbhanj) of Orissa in the eastern part of India, 6,300 women mango producers have been organized to facilitate creation of a Producers’ Company with annual turnover of US $260,000. They planted high-quality mango trees in their land with the help of Government’s horticulture department. They were provided training on pre-harvest, post-harvest management & market information and price discovery. The producer company was able to do local value addition through grading, sorting, packaging and loading through trucks. The producer company has been able to sell products to wholesale and high value channels like retail outlets and have become aggregators for large food retailers and companies. The producer company has helped the members to realize additional income of US $800 for each household. 

Mango value chain: sorting, grading and packaging

There’s More to Agriculture than Handhoes: Rising Opportunities for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship in African Agrifood Systems

Julie Howard's picture

This blog summarizes the findings of the Agrifood Youth Employment and Engagement Study (AgYees). The authors, all at Michigan State University, are Andrea Allen, Julie Howard (corresponding author), M. Kondo, Amy Jamison, Thomas Jayne, J. Snyder, David Tschirley, and F. Kwame Yeboah.

Africa’s share of the global population is projected to rise dramatically from 12% in 2015 to 23% by 2050. This huge demographic trend will certainly amplify Africa’s political and economic impact on the rest of the world, and this impact will largely be determined by young Africans between 15-35 years who constitute about 55% of the labor force. At the same time, Africa faces a big employment challenge, about 11 million young Africans are expected to enter into the labor force each year until 2035. Yet formal job creation in Africa’s growing economies has not kept pace -- more than half of Africa’s un- and underemployed are youth. Research by Michigan State University in collaboration with The MasterCard Foundation, the Agrifood Youth Employment and Engagement Study (AgYees) examines the potential for African agrifood systems to provide employment opportunities for Africa’s youth, focusing on Tanzania, Rwanda and Nigeria.

The study found that, throughout the next decade, expanding investments in Sub-Saharan Africa’s agrifood system will be critical to generate greater numbers of higher paying jobs —both on and off the farm — that can reduce poverty among the large rural youth population and accelerate economic transformation.

Blog post of the month: Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs, and Lower Food Miles

Vivek Prasad's picture

Each month People, Spaces, Deliberation shares the blog post that generated the most interest and discussion. For May 2017, the featured blog post is "Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs, and Lower Food Miles" by Vivek Prasad and Iftikhar Mostafa. 

Millions of urban dwellers cultivate vegetables and fruit trees in home gardens, both for their families and for sale. In Dakar, 7500 households “grow their own” in micro-gardens. In Malawi, 700 000 urban residents practice home gardening to meet their food needs and earn extra income. Low-income city gardeners in Zambia make US$230 a year from sales. In cities like Bamako, Accra and Kumasi, depending on crop and season, between 60 and 100 per cent of leafy vegetables consumed are produced within the respective cities with employment figures ranging from 1,000 to 15,000 jobs. Even megacities such as Shanghai, with about 15% population growth per year, one of the fastest growing cities on the planet, maintains its urban farming as an important part of its economic system.

 

Farm plots amidst apartment blocks in Chaozhou, China.

Around 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urban farms already supply food to about 700 million residents of cities, representing about a quarter of the world’s urban population.    

Most cities in developing countries are facing challenges to create formal job opportunities. Urban agriculture can play an important role not only in enhancing food security but also in contributing to the eco-system - improved nutrition, poverty alleviation, local economic development and job creation as well as productive reuse of urban wastes.

Cuba has a system of urban organic farms called Organopónicos, which provides a fresh supply of organic food to the community, neighborhood improvement, beautification of urban areas, as well as employment opportunities. Cuba has more than 7,000 organopónicos, with some 200 gardens in Havana alone, covering more than 35,000 hectares of land, which supply its citizens with 90% of their fruit and vegetables. In Havana, 117,000 jobs in Havana and income for 150,000 low income families were directly provided by urban and peri-urban agriculture.

Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs, and Lower Food Miles

Vivek Prasad's picture

Millions of urban dwellers cultivate vegetables and fruit trees in home gardens, both for their families and for sale. In Dakar, 7500 households “grow their own” in micro-gardens. In Malawi, 700 000 urban residents practice home gardening to meet their food needs and earn extra income. Low-income city gardeners in Zambia make US$230 a year from sales. In cities like Bamako, Accra and Kumasi, depending on crop and season, between 60 and 100 per cent of leafy vegetables consumed are produced within the respective cities with employment figures ranging from 1,000 to 15,000 jobs. Even megacities such as Shanghai, with about 15% population growth per year, one of the fastest growing cities on the planet, maintains its urban farming as an important part of its economic system.

 

Farm plots amidst apartment blocks in Chaozhou, China.

Around 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urban farms already supply food to about 700 million residents of cities, representing about a quarter of the world’s urban population.    

Most cities in developing countries are facing challenges to create formal job opportunities. Urban agriculture can play an important role not only in enhancing food security but also in contributing to the eco-system - improved nutrition, poverty alleviation, local economic development and job creation as well as productive reuse of urban wastes.

Cuba has a system of urban organic farms called Organopónicos, which provides a fresh supply of organic food to the community, neighborhood improvement, beautification of urban areas, as well as employment opportunities. Cuba has more than 7,000 organopónicos, with some 200 gardens in Havana alone, covering more than 35,000 hectares of land, which supply its citizens with 90% of their fruit and vegetables. In Havana, 117,000 jobs in Havana and income for 150,000 low income families were directly provided by urban and peri-urban agriculture.

Blog post of the month: Future Jobs for youth in Agriculture and Food Systems: Learning from our backyard in DC

Iftikhar Mostafa's picture

Each month People, Spaces, Deliberation shares the blog post that generated the most interest and discussion. For March 2017, the featured blog post is "Future Jobs for youth in Agriculture and Food Systems: Learning from our backyard in DC" by Iftikhar Mostafa and Parmesh Shah.
 

When we think of agriculture and food, we think of a farmer working in a rural area producing food for consumption and selling some surplus.  With growing urbanization and increasing demand for food, food system has moved away from just agricultural production. It involves aggregating, value addition, processing, logistics, food preparation, restaurants and other related services.  Many enterprises from small to large are part of the enterprise ecosystem.  The potential for new jobs for youth who start and are also employed by their enterprises is significant. The Africa Agriculture Innovation Network (AAIN) has developed a business agenda targeting establishment of at least 108 incubators in 54 African countries in the next 5 years focusing on youth and women among other actors. At least 600,000 jobs will be created and 100,000 start-ups and SMEs produced through incubation and 60,000 students exposed to learn as you earn model and mentored to start new businesses.

In recent past, there have been many innovations in areas of technology, extension, ICT, education, and incubation leading to new generation of enterprises and enterprise clusters resulting in the creation of good quality and new jobs in agriculture and food systems. A key challenge in the future is how we create more and better jobs in the agriculture and food system value chain. One of the major requirements for creating more jobs is a radical change in the way youth are taught agriculture and entrepreneurship. The skills required for a modern agriculture and food system are of a higher order and need to be upgraded significantly.

Motivating Haryana’s agri leaders towards peri-urban farming and direct marketing

Abhilaksh Likhi's picture

Surajkund in Faridabad, Haryana on the outskirts of New Delhi, is famous for the International Crafts Fair held annually that showcases the richness and diversity of India’s handicrafts and cultural fabric.  This year it was also the venue for the 2nd Agri Leaders Summit-2017 held from 18-20th March, 2017. Doubling farmers’ income is one of the top most priorities of the Government of Haryana. In this context, the Summit aimed at providing agri leaders a platform for recognition, facilitation and incubation. Within the objective of accelerated, inclusive and sustainable growth in the State, the Summit, more importantly, aimed at creating a direct linkage between farmers, agricultural workers and the agri market to enable learning about value creation chains. Further, with technological innovations revolutionizing agri- industry/business, the Summit was also a forum for farmer leaders and achievers to display their best practices and innovations.

The Summit’s stakeholders included the  political leadership in central/state Government;  farmer leaders (growers, producers, processors and entrepreneurs); Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs)/Farmers Interest Groups (FIGs); agri and allied companies, departments and agencies of the Central and State Government; national and international Institutes/ Universities; eminent scientists; foreign governments/businesses and consumers. This vast amalgam of stakeholders was supplemented by mobilization of over one hundred thousand farmers from all parts of the State who too participated in the three day Summit in its exhibition, seminars and mass engagement sessions with the political leadership!   

Campaign Art: Food Waste

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.
 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), annually around the world 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted. In the world, where about one in nine people do not have enough food (that’s some 795 million people), food waste presents an enormous opportunity for tackling food insecurity.

In order to bring more attention to the issue of food loss and waste and promote food loss reduction, FAO is leading the Save Food global initiative, partnering with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and others in the private sector and civil society.

#NotWasting

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

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