This month, the newsletter is packed with stories of new beginnings: a new centre for regenerative agriculture, a new project office in Kolhapur, and a new office for Solidaridad Asia headquarters. There are also inspiring stories from the ground, of farmers who have partnered with us to bring change that really matters.
Regenerative Agriculture Gets a New Centre of Excellence
In a key step towards promoting regenerative agriculture, the foundation stone of the Nico Roozen International Centre of Excellence for Regenerative Agriculture was laid at Barkheda Kharet village of Sehore district, Madhya Pradesh, on 5 April. Named after the founder and honorary president of Solidaridad Network, the centre will provide training on regenerative agricultural practices that are climate-smart, improve soil biodiversity as well as farmer livelihoods.
On the occasion, 125 gram panchayats pledged to work with Solidaridad to achieve sustainable development goals, by adopting regenerative farming practices. Key environmental benefits of regenerative agriculture include resilient ecosystems, carbon sequestration and improved water management.
New Project Office Opens in Kolhapur, Maharashtra
Solidaridad now has a project office in Kolhapur, Maharashtra. This office will provide support in coordinating different activities related to sugarcane projects in Maharashtra (Kolhapur, Sangli and Pune districts) and Karnataka (Belagavi and Mandya). The ongoing projects are focused on reducing GHG emissions in the sugarcane supply chain through capacity development of sugarcane growers on better farm practices, including regenerative farming. Additionally, the projects are also working on important aspects like building/supporting rural agri entrepreneurs to check unwanted migration to cities, improving women engagement on farms, embracing digital innovations for efficient supply chains, and supporting COVID-19 affected families with skill development. The larger objective is sustainable and improved livelihood for small-scale sugarcane farmers.
Solidaridad-assisted FPO Gets FSSAI License
A significant milestone was achieved by Solidaridad-assisted FPO Rakshika Mahila Kisan Producer Company Limited when it got certified by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The Bhopal-based FPO was established in 2021 and has since grown in size and strength, with at least 300 women farmers contributing to its corpus. An FSSAI license benefits food and beverage enterprises in expanding their market reach, establishing goodwill, and ensuring food safety, distribution, storage, sales, and imports. It will also help the FPO apply for loans from banks once they expand their operations. The FPO is producing tofu for local consumption using a semi-automated machine and has managed to register profits from sales. The FSSAI license will help the company explore markets beyond the local areas and open avenues for increased income for the women farmers.
Leather Team Conducts Technical Meets, Launches Multi Stakeholder Platform
Under the ambit of the European Union Switch Asia projects, Solidaridad’s Leather team organised two technical meets, in Chennai on 28 February and in Kolkata on 2 March 2023. During the interactive sessions, experts from PISIE and ILSA explained the approach to solid waste management, reutilization of the waste, water purification, and sludge treatment, which can be replicated in Indian leather geographies too.
On the occasion, the Kolkata cluster along with project partners also launched a multi-stakeholder platform (MSP) that will conduct quarterly meetings with all relevant stakeholders to discuss project update, milestones, challenges, success stories and way forward. The MSP will be chaired by Council of Leather Exports (CLE), which is under the aegis of Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and co-chaired by Calcutta Leather Complex Tanners Association (CLCTA) with Solidaridad as the convener.
A Training on Regenerative Agriculture & Regenagri Standard
A two-day training programme on regenerative agriculture and regenagri standard was organized by Solidaridad in partnership with Peterson Projects & Solutions and Nico Roozen International Centre of Excellence for Regenerative Agriculture on 17-18 April 2023 in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The training aimed to provide insights into and orient the participants, which included commodity managers and staff involved with the field implementation, towards regenerative agriculture practices and certification standards.
Technical sessions on regenerative agriculture practices were led by experts from Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) and Indian Institute of Soil Science (ICAR-IISS). Sessions on regenagri certificate and carbon standard were moderated by Fillipo Guerrini and Arjun Desai from Peterson Projects & Solutions. Participants also visited the Nico Roozen International Centre of Excellence for Regenerative Agriculture on the second day.
Asia Headquarters Move to a New Office
This month, Solidaridad Asia headquarters moved to a new office. This office will support the activities and ambitions of all 8 country offices in Asia as well as synergise efforts to deliver on our key regional and global aspirations, from regenerative agriculture to traceable supply chains. To mark this key milestone for Asia, Nico Roozen, founder and honorary president of Solidaridad Network, joined in the celebrations and inaugurated the new office in Delhi-NCR. Our key partners and well-wishers were in attendance too.
Laying out the roadmap for the future, Nico said: “We do not live in the era of change but in the change of era. We are facing fundamental changes and challenges. Our planet is at risk ... We have to reinvent to survive as humans. In your (Asia) planning ... I see the fierce signals of the understanding of this reality, and it is clear the concept of regenerative agriculture is the strategy for future.” “I am sure Asia has to, will have to, take the lead as the most dynamic region on the globe.”
Women Self-help Groups Felicitated for Promoting GAP
As part of Women’s Day celebrations, the Cotton team organized a programme in Mozar village of Yavatmal district on 8 March 2023. On the occasion, Solidaridad felicitated three local women self-help groups – Pragati Mahila Swayam Sahayata Samuh, Veer Shaiva Swayam Sahayata Samuh, and Ahilyabai Swayam Sahayata Samuh – for their contribution towards promoting good agricultural practices (GAP) in their localities.
Women farmers shared their experiences about Solidaridad’s training programmes, which have helped them find a supplementary source of income. The Smart Agri programme, they said, has improved the way they do farming and the real-time data on weather, diseases, and pest management is helping them make informed agricultural decisions. Government officials, village sarpanch of Mozar and the principal of the village school also attended the event.
Bringing a Revolution with Multiple Cropping
Udalguri district in Assam is known for its quality tea production. Agriculture is the primary occupation of the people and tea is one of the major cultivated crops. Apart from tea, arecanut, fruits, vegetables, and paddy are also grown extensively in this district.
Alongbar Mochahary, a prominent farmer in the district, is bringing a revolution with multiple cropping. He cultivates on his 14 hectares of land different crops like tea, arecanut, fruits, vegetables, spices, and paddy. He is also engaged in livestock, poultry farming, and aquaculture. He got motivated to diversify his cultivation after receiving technical training from Solidaridad. Seeing his enthusiasm, Solidaridad selected his farm as a Demo Plot and installed an IOT device. Alongbar now plans to establish a mini tea factory to produce fine-quality teas.
Empowered by Smart Farming
Naresh Raut (49) is a progressive cotton farmer from Waroda village in Nagpur district, Maharashtra. Engaged in agriculture for the last 35 years, Naresh’s association with Solidaridad started four years ago. Solidaridad installed a soil gateway and a crop view camera on his farm. The data captured by these devices and then shared to farmers like Naresh through regular agri advisories has played a crucial role in saving the crop from pest and insect attacks as well as from adverse effects of the weather. By adopting good agricultural practices, Naresh has reduced his spending on chemical fertilizers by 50 per cent; he is also preparing natural pest repellents right at his farm.“The increased income from agriculture has enabled me to pay for my daughters’ education. My elder daughter is preparing for NEET and the younger one will prepare for IIT entrance soon,” he says.
Kailas Suryawanshi has joined as a District Coordinator in our Sugarcane project at Sangli, Maharashtra. He has more than 10 years of experience in the development sector.
Prashant Kumar has joined us as a Programme Associate in Kanpur. He has more than five years of work experience. He has done his M. Tech in Biochemical Engineering from Harcourt Butler Technical University, Kanpur.
Apurva Ajmani has joined us as a Programme Officer-Leather in Delhi. She brings on board more than five years of experience in programme management. She has done her M.Sc in Development Communication from University of Delhi.
Sravan Kumar Kota has joined us as a Programme Manager-MSME (Textiles) in Panipat. He has more than 10 years of work experience. He has done his Masters in Environmental Management (Rivers and Lakes) from IIT Roorkee.
Arun Kumar B
Field Programme Officer-Leather, Chennai
We congratulate Pradeep Kumar Solanki, Field Coordinator, for completing 10 years with Solidaridad and thank him for his contribution in building the organisation. We wish him more such innings in the years to come!
Senior Finance Officer-Nagpur