Solidaridad Regional Expertise Centre (SREC) is driven by its vision and mission, through which it seeks to address the challenges posed by India’s rapidly increasing population and an equally rapid reduction of its poverty, putting pressure on its land and water resources. Today, consumers want more food, more fibre for cloth and more feed for their animals. SREC believes that this ever-growing demand can be sustained only if the agricultural sector makes a transition towards smart and sustainable land and water use, increase its production by adopting efficient processes, coupled with less pollution, greater precision in the use of fertilisers and pesticides, and a reduction in the use of water and energy.
SREC is working together with small farmers, workers, local authorities, private sector and research institutes as a catalyst for improved food production, a safer workplace, access to clean water, and a better income.
SREC Centre is a Charitable Trust established in December 2008, registered under the Indian Registration Act, 1908 and 80 G & 12 AA of The Income Tax Act, 1961. Wherein we,
Sixty-five-year-old Kanwar Lal of Narwal village in Agar Malwa district of Madhya Pradesh had been practicing chemical intensive farming on his 8-acre land for several years read more
How one of the largest leather clusters in India is turning to sustainability, one block at a time, with Solidaridad Regional Expertise Centre’s ‘Waste to Walk’ read more
Forty-two-year-old Indira Kadam is an anganwadi worker in Munoli village in Belagavi district of Karnataka in southern India. A single woman, she read more
Climate change impact on farming systems has been much discussed in the last decade but what farmers, especially smallholders, need are solutions that can make them resilient to absorb climate shocks and farm sustainably. This edition of the newsletter shines light on the ‘smart’ and regenerative interventions which are helping farmers optimise their inputs, adopt better farm management practices and check losses due to weather-related events.
SMART AGRI HUB INAUGURATED IN BHOPAL
The inauguration of a Smart Agri Hub in Bhopal, a collaborative endeavour with the Vodafone-Idea Foundation under the Smart Agri Project, marks a milestone in Solidaridad’s quest to revolutionise agriculture through the integration of technology and the Internet of Things (IoT). This pioneering initiative is aimed at empowering more than 8 lakh farmers across the country. Smart Agri Hub is equipped with devices to collect real-time data on soil conditions, weather, crop health, and more. The data empowers farmers to make informed decisions, optimising planting times, irrigation, and crop protection. The Smart Agri Hub shall serve as a knowledge centre for farmers, FPOs, agri-entrepreneurs and agri-extension workers. The Smart Agri Hub serves as the epicentre of a comprehensive approach aimed at revolutionising agriculture through the integration of cutting-edge technology, data analytics, and sustainable practices.
A NATIONAL WORKSHOP ON SMART AGRI
A Smart Agri National Workshop was held on 14-15 September 2023 at Sehore, Madhya Pradesh. The workshop promoted awareness and knowledge-sharing in the field of smart agriculture, with a focus on leveraging technology for sustainable farming practices. Around 60 participants from all across the project areas (including members from Solidaridad, the Vodafone-Idea foundation, PESSL Instruments and Indev Consultancy) participated in the workshop. The workshop featured presentations and discussions on the latest innovations in farming technology, including the use of the Internet of Things (IoT)-powered devices, and precision agriculture tools (especially the Automatic Weather Station).
Participation in the Smart Agri National Workshop was a valuable experience for the team members. It provided them with fresh perspectives, knowledge, and connections that will contribute to the continued growth and success of Smart Agri in our mission to revolutionise agriculture through technology and sustainability.
RURAL EXTENSION OFFICERS VISIT THE NICO ROOZEN INTERNATIONAL CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE
Around 60 rural extension officers (trainees) from the State Institute of Agriculture Extension and Training (SIAET) visited the Nico Roozen International Centre of Excellence for Regenerative Agriculture in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh, on 12 September 2023 as a part of their training programme. The visit was an interactive one in which regenerative farming practices and techniques were highlighted. The participants also visited a Farmer Field School (FFS) nearby to understand the functions and activities of FFS, and interacted with the lead farmers who are adopting regenerative agriculture practices on their farms. Technical sessions on the regenagri certification process and importance of soil health management were also part of the itinerary.
IoT INTERVENTIONS IN MAHARASHTRA VILLAGE GET A THUMBS UP FROM BDO
On 10 August 2023, Manoj Hirudkar, Block Development Officer, Saoner block, Nagpur district, Maharashtra, visited Bhendala village's equipment site. He commended the programme for using IoT for farming (which offers real-time weather data and crop advisories), and for its data accuracy and understanding of farm equipment.
FARMER FIELD SCHOOL TRAININGS
Solidaridad conducted various trainings in the farmer field schools in the villages of Virul Ronghe, Khubala and Dhotra in Maharashtra on 31 July, 9 August and 31 August, respectively. These trainings were aimed at capacity building, good agricultural practices, integrated nutrient management (INM), integrated pest management (IPM), among other agendas, in collaboration with the Kalmeshwar block agriculture department. They highlighted iSCOUT's advisory role with specific villages, focusing on cotton and pest management.
SESSIONS ON IPM AND INM IN COTTON
In August 2023, Solidaridad conducted a training led by Dr. Singandhupe and experts on integrated pest and nutrient management for cotton farmers in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal, Wardha and Amravati districts, addressing adverse weather and pest challenges. Demonstrations on cost-effective inputs and natural crop protection were included.
WATER-MANGEMENT LESSONS AND TIPS ON FARM REMEDIES FOR FARMERS IN ADILABAD DISTRICT, TELANGANA
In July 2023, heavy rainfall in Adilabad led to waterlogging and cotton root-rot concerns. Solidaridad conducted training sessions in Ballori and Ballori Goda villages, Jainad block, led by Mahesh Solase and Anand Tiwari. They discussed water-related issues and provided remedies like Nimark, Dashparni, and composting. Farmers appreciated the support in the form of effective advice on inputs and pest management.
TRAINING FOR WOMEN FARMERS
Solidaridad's Resource and Training Centres host seasonal agricultural training sessions for farmers, including joint initiatives with government departments. In Wai Bazar, Nanded, Maharashtra, training for women farmers was conducted around women-centric government schemes during the kharif season. The training was attended by Raj Kumar Ranvir, Sub Divisional Agriculture Officer, and the Block Development Officer. A total of 71 women farmers actively participated.
TEA ENTREPRENEURS AND AGRO- AND TEA-MANAGEMENT SERVICES JOIN HANDS
On 22 August 2023, seven tea entrepreneurs met in Jorhat, Assam, to address pricing issues in green-leaf tea. They also decided to establish a farmer producer company (FPC) for tea production with Solidaridad's support. They connected with Associated Tea & Agro Management Services Pvt. Ltd. (ATMS) in Guwahati for FPC formation and government loans, aided by ATMS’ BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer) module for factory development.
SOLIDARIDAD PARTICIPATES IN THE SIMAC TANNING TECH 2023 FAIR IN MILAN
Solidaridad participated in the Simac Tanning Tech 2023 fair in Milan, Italy, from 19–21 September 2023.The knowledge exchange-cum-exposure visit was organised under the project ‘Effective waste management and sustainable development of the MSME tanning companies in Kolkata leather cluster (Bantala)’ project, a Solidaridad initiative funded by European Union Switch Asia programme.
Solidaridad also took part in a leather-cluster visit after the fair. It collaborated with its partners, Calcutta Leather Complex Tanners’ Association (CLCTA) and Il Politecnico Internazionale per lo Sviluppo Industriale ed Economico (PISIE), to explore avenues for the creation of a circular economy (vis-à-vis the leather industry), generate green jobs with the support of ILSA S.p.A., and make the best use of new developments in the field of sustainability.
ToT SESSION ON LATEX COLLECTION AND SHEET PROCESSING
A Training-of-Trainers (ToT) session on ‘Latex Collection and Sheet Processing’ was organised on 19 September 2023 for the lead farmers and the rubber field team at Thekkumuri village, Pala, Kottayam district, Kerala. The purpose of this session was to create awareness among the lead farmers on the various good practices in latex collection and sheet processing. Topics like marketable forms of natural rubber, the importance and types of sheet rubber, various quality parameters, smokehouse, grading of Ribbed Smoked Sheet (RSS), and others, were covered in the session. A demo of latex processing (into rubber sheet) and smokehouse drying was shown, followed by a visit to the rubber dealer/trader for visually identifying different RSS grades.
Realising Her Dream
Suvarna Bhagwan Patil, a resident of Gondoli village in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra, comes from a smallholder farmer’s family, but has a big dream to work as an entrepreneur to help her family. However, the journey to making her dream a reality did not start until she met the Solidaridad team during a training programme on soil health improvement. The programme was organised under the Regenerative and Sustainable Sugarcane Supply Chain programme, jointly implemented by Solidaridad and Dalmia Bharat Sugar Industries Ltd. (DBSIL), with support from Bayer (Food Value Chain).
Suvarna's excitement caught the attention of the Solidaridad team, who gave her a vermi-bed and taught her how to use it. They visited her often to make sure she was doing well. Within five months, Suvarna made 450 kg of vermicompost, and her confidence soared. As time passed, she made over 3,200 kg of vermicompost, earning nearly ₹20,000 for her family.
Suvarna's success didn't stop here. She became a hero in her village, helping others to start their own vermi-beds. Together, they worked to make farming better for everyone, taking care of the land and keeping it healthy.
Embracing Smart Farming
Devanand Bhavsingh Chavhan, a marginal farmer in Bangaon Village of Yavatmal district, Maharashtra, owns five acres of land. He grows cotton, soybean and pigeon pea with the help of a well. However, with the support of the Smart Agri Project, he has adopted drip irrigation. He is now a progressive farmer who follows good agricultural practices and relies on weather advisories for irrigation scheduling. He employs low-cost technology and IPM tools, including yellow and blue sticky traps and pheromone traps, eliminating the need for chemical insecticides. He's aware of pest infestations through weekly advisories, saving up on pest-control costs. Devanand successfully uses nimboli ark and dashparni ark for pest control and attends Solidaridad's training sessions to adopt good agricultural practices. “I am thankful to Smart Agri Project for providing information about weather and rainfall through advisories, which is helpful for reducing cost of cultivation,” he says.
Amrita Dhar, joined us on 4 September as a Field Coordinator in our EU supported programme in Kolkata. She comes with more than ten years of experience in community mobilization, liaising with different stakeholders and team management. She holds a M.A degree in Social Work from Rabindra Bharti University.
Divya Kumari, joined us on 4 September as a Field Coordinator in our Textile project based at Panipat, Haryana. She was previously working with Envirochem Testing Lab and Research Centre as a Chemist. She has done M.Sc. in Environmental Science from Guru Jambheshwar University of Science & Technology, Hisar.
Robin Garg, joined us 18 September as Finance and Admin Officer in our Textile project based at Panipat, Haryana. He has more than ten years of working experience in accounting, finance, audit and vendor management. He holds a Master’s degree in commerce from CCU University, Meerut.
Assistant Manager-Knowledge and Learning