This month, Solidaridad’s efforts to promote sustainable, regenerative practices and gender equality in agriculture received recognition from all quarters. We also introduced pilots and scaled up existing efforts across various commodity supply chains — from wild-vegetable cultivation in Maharashtra to rice and paddy cultivation in Odisha.
Roundtable with FICCI
On 2 August 2023, Solidaridad and FICCI jointly organised a roundtable with leading agro-companies on the feminisation of supply chains. The meeting saw extensive inputs from participants and identified the barriers that deter women's participation in agro-supply chains. As an immediate task, it was decided to collate the recommendations and present them to the G20, which will be made available soon.
Board members of FPOs participated in Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort
Twelve FPO members from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, supported by the Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) and Solidaridad, participated in the 77th Independence Day celebration at the Red Fort, Delhi. After hoisting the flag, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave greetings to all the participants, especially the farmer groups, for coming to the event. In his speech, the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of farmers and FPOS in the development of the agricultural sector. After the programme at the Red Fort, Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, invited all FPO participants to his residence in Delhi and also interacted with them. During his conversation, he further stressed upon the words of the Prime Minister about the role and importance of farmers in ensuring food security and prosperity of India.
Swachh Aadat Curriculum implemented
The Swachh Aadat Curriculum, addressing issues of hygiene behaviour, was implemented from 18 July 2023 to 15 August 2023 under the Code for Responsible Extraction (CORE) programme. Facilitated by Shrushti Seva Samiti, a local community-based organisation in Udaipur, and supported by Solidaridad Asia and Hindustan Unilever Limited, it took place in government-run primary schools in the villages of Sonaria, Lakhawali and Thur in Udaipur. The initiative aims to transform fundamental [hygiene] behaviour and promote clean habits. The 21-day programme which was aligned with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 (ensure access to water and sanitation for all) reached 897 children across 15 government primary schools.
Certified first aid training conducted
From 2016 onwards, Hindustan Unilever Limited and Solidaridad have collaborated under the CORE programme to bring forth improvements in industrial, mineral-extraction sites. This partnership enhances safety practices through comprehensive training and diligent monitoring. Following principles 2 and 3 of the CORE programme, the focus is on imparting knowledge of safety protocols and emergency actions to workers and institutions. The programme emphasises the mine management's role in executing safety measures and robust first aid systems for the well-being of workers. This year, significant progress was made through a four-day first aid training event in Udaipur from 7–10 August 2023. The Indian Red Cross Society led the training for 30 participants from 23 extraction sites, in alignment with the programme’s principles.
Solidaridad’s castor team visited Bhopal for cross-learning
As Gujarat ventures into regenerative agriculture and smart-agri technology, areas in which Solidaridad currently specialises, the team involved in the castor and Nayara programmes explored cross-learning. The team visited Bhopal from 15–20 August 2023 to take part in a knowledge-exchange event. The visit encompassed classroom training on regenerative agriculture, regenagri code, certification frameworks, and the Smart Agri Project. Field visits to programme areas enabled interactions with farmers and FPO members. They also explored the Nico Roozen International Centre of Excellence for Regenerative Agriculture to enhance their understanding. The team-visit concluded with an induction training in New Delhi, to improve the members’ understanding of Solidaridad's operations and other programmes.
Training-cum-exposure visit at ICAR–Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore
In August, a two-day training on “Technologies for Sustainable Sugarcane Production” was organised for the members of Solidaridad under the Regenerative and Resilient Sugarcane Supply Chain initiative at ICAR–Sugarcane Breeding Institute (SBI), Coimbatore. The training focused on providing insights on the latest varieties and innovative technologies (developed by SBI, Coimbatore) in sugarcane farming, and the control of pests and diseases. The participants also saw the incubation centre, where scientists and entrepreneurs come together to make different implements useful for farming and various products of sugarcane juice.
In addition to the above, the exposure visit also includes trips to the tissue-culture lab, seed-treatment plants, trial plots growing varieties of sugarcane, , museum, among other places. The main objective was to enhance the awareness of participants on innovative products and equipment developed by SBI which can be promoted and distributed among farmers for their welfare and betterment. In the coming months, most of these technologies will be introduced in the field during different training- and capacity-building programmes by the respective team members.
Climate-Smart Dairy training conducted in Pune
Solidaridad's dairy team recently completed a comprehensive four-day training in Pune, focusing on dairy and interpersonal communication (IPC) skills. Field experts, including dairy specialists, nutritionists, and veterinarians, led sessions under the theme "Climate-Smart Dairy." Additionally, members from the sugarcane and leather teams participated in a two-day training on "Working to Win Together," emphasising interpersonal dynamics and teamwork. The training fostered an understanding of collaboration, individual contributions, and effective farmer-engagement approaches. Valuable lessons given included communication techniques, rapport-building, CAPS (curiosity, awareness, presence, and simplified communication), FAB (features, advantages, benefits) models, efficient working practices, and using project KPIs. The insights gained from the trainers promise to significantly enhance the team's skills and performance.
Gender training and job fair for women
In a significant effort towards ensuring gender equality and economic empowerment of women, Solidaridad participated in gender training and a job fair for women. Mahila Rojgar Mela and gender training was organised by the block women and child development department at Kalmeshwar on 31 July 2023. The event aimed to bridge the gender gap and provide opportunities for skill development and employment to women residing in rural areas.
During the fair, awareness was generated on government schemes and different initiatives of NGOs to uplift small-scale women enterprises.Solidaridad discussed the Smart Agri program and different training modules for women under the programme. Sunil Kedar, an MLA from the Saoner–Kalmeshwar constituency, visited Solidaridad’s stall and appreciated the organisation’s efforts towards the empowerment of farmers and rural women. A total of 118 women visited the stall and expressed interest in the different kinds of training provided by Solidaridad.
Ranbhaji Mahotsav celebrated
Wild vegetables, locally known as ranbhaji, are packed with nutrients. They hold cultural value, being part of traditional diets and healing practices — a testament to the bond between people and nature. Yet, when it comes to agriculture, they are often overlooked for commercial crops. Solidaridad and the agriculture department in Amravati organised a festival celebrating wild vegetables on 10 August 2023. The event, attended by both men and women farmers, was led by Solidaridad’s Anand Tiwari and block agriculture officer, Prashant Gulhane. Nutrient-rich wild vegetables were displayed, with Solidaridad’s Mayuri Thombre highlighting their importance. The festival brought attention to these valuable foods, and fostered a connection between health, culture and nature.
Training of women farmers
Women farmers, the backbone of India’s economy, are very important to Solidaridad. Through capacity building and skill development, Solidaridad empowers them with extra sources of income. On 25 July 2023, Solidaridad organised a training session for women farmers at the Hinganghat Resource and Training Center, Wardha This event was part of the Smart Agri Project, in partnership with the Vodafone–Idea Foundation and Indus Towers. It aimed to boost women's leadership and impact in agriculture, reflecting Solidaridad's commitment to their empowerment. Discussions covered the Smart Agri programme, advisories, and skill development. Around 50 women farmers, including lead farmers, were in attendance.
Collaboration between Solidaridad and the Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India to initiate Groundnut Model Farm
To make India self-sufficient in edible oils, Solidaridad and SEA have joined hands to establish model farms for groundnut cultivation in selected districts of western Madhya Pradesh and north-western Rajasthan. The initiative aims to promote sustainable agriculture and empower farmers within the region. These farms will demonstrate improved technologies, seed varieties and practices among the farmers. A delegation led by SEA, under its Groundnut Promotion Council, visited the model farms in Mandsaur, Ratlam and Neemuch districts of Madhya Pradesh. During the visit, a farm-field day programme was organised on 5 August 2023 in the village of Vishniya in Neemuch. It witnessed the participation of around 500 farmers, including key dignitaries. The Groundnut Model Farm project envisions to overcome the productivity constraints, while bolstering India's domestic edible oil production and reducing imports. The current national average productivity of groundnut is around 1687 kg/ha which can be increased to up to 2500 kg/ha, with the help of these model farms.
Workshop on business development of FPOs
To support the objectives of SFAC and to create a conducive environment for its successful implementation, a two-day workshop on "Business Development of Farmer Producer Organisations” was organised in Bhopal on 10–11 August 2023, with the following key objectives:
1. Identifying business opportunities for FPOs.
2. Raising awareness among farmers about business development opportunities within the framework of FPOs
3. Capacity- building and skill-enhancement of FPO members
4. Sharing information about government schemes and support for FPOs.
5. Networking and collaborations among FPOs
The workshop was attended by boards of directors and CEOs of existing FPOs, agricultural entrepreneurs, government officials involved in agricultural development, and industry partners. During the workshop, FPOs such as Sarsop Farmer Agro Producer Company Limited, Pratishtha, Retam Farmer Producer Company Limited and Jamdoli Farmer Agro Producer Company Limited launched their products which are aimed at improving agricultural productivity, increasing income, and promoting sustainable farming practices.
Communication workshop for the team of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan
Solidaridad Regional Expertise Centre (SREC), New Delhi, organised its first-ever communication workshop in Bhopal on 8 August 2023. The event opened with a welcome for Naina Rajkumari, SREC's Senior Communications Manager, given by Prema Sharma, Solidaridad’s Communication Consultant,followed by an enlightening talk by Dr Suresh Motwani, General Manager, Solidaridad, emphasising the role of communication in growth. The workshop covered essential topics — smooth internal communication, proper email etiquette, and the importance of gender-neutral communication. Participants crafted impactful stories highlighting the benefits of programmes and practices such as the Smart Agri Project and regenerative farming. A photography segment, followed by a competition, emphasised the power of visual communication. The event concluded positively, highlighting the role of visuals in enhancing inclusive, interpersonal communication.
Solidaridad's Farmer-Field School provides farmers with sustainable techniques
In Mundla village, Phanda block, Bhopal district, Solidaridad's unique Farmer-Field School (FFS) initiative is transforming farming practices. During a visit by SREC New Delhi's communication team, the impact was evident. Skilled FFS facilitators are guiding soybean farmers, teaching moisture management and soybean-specific pesticide usage. The FFS stands out for promoting self-reliance – farmers have learned to create sustainable, eco-friendly, organic fertilisers (from jivamrit to neem ka sat), using ingredients like neem, onion and garlic and reducing chemical usage. FFS equips farmers to tackle threats to soybean cultivation such as the tobacco caterpillar, fostering sustainable and science-based farming for a greener future.
System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method initiated
The SRI method of cultivation has been initiated on 30 demo rice plots in Cuttack, Kendrapara and Gajapati districts of Odisha. SRI is an innovative and sustainable approach to rice cultivation that aims to increase productivity while reducing water usage and environmental impact. In Odisha, where agriculture plays a crucial role in ensuring the livelihood of a significant portion of the population, the initiation of the SRI method has garnered attention as a potential solution to the challenges of traditional rice-farming practices. Smallholders are being encouraged to adopt the SRI method while transplanting paddy, to reduce production costs and ensure a high-quality output. Massive soil testing has been undertaken to determine NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) content and salinity in the soil. Green manure (dhaincha) has been grown in the middle rows to get maximum benefit out of the nitrogen fixation process. Seedlings are prepared in raised beds before transplantation, and biofertilisers are used to supplement plant growth. Efforts have also been made to reduce tillage of the paddy field.
Solidaridad facilitates market linkages for women entrepreneurs in leather industry
Empowered by Solidaridad, entrepreneur Sher Banu Mehdi, Proprietor, Union Leather Products, Chennai and her team, skilled in crafting sustainable products from tanned leather waste, showcased their creations at the Aadi Thiruvizha event in Chennai on 11 August 2023. This exhibition, organised by Equitas Bank's CSR team, aimed to uplift women. The European Union (EU)–SWITCH-Asia project in Tamil Nadu facilitates market linkages for these women artisans. At the event, over 350 visitors praised the team’s leather goods on display, thereby promoting circular economy goals and green marketing strategies. The event boosted sales and generated green jobs, especially for women. The entrepreneur appreciated Solidaridad's support, acknowledging the establishment of new opportunities and connections for a sustainable market.
The power of regenerative agricultural practices
Raja Ram, born and raised in the village of Barkheda Kharet in Sehore district, Madhya Pradesh, is deeply connected to his land. However, he witnessed some negative impacts of conventional farming methods on his farm. Determined to make a difference, Raja Ram set out on a journey to adopt regenerative agricultural practices. He thanks the Nico Roozen International Centre of Excellence for Regenerative Agriculture, established in his village by Solidaridad, for starting on this journey. Here, he received training on sustainable farming techniques, crop rotation, vermicomposting, using biofertilisers and resorting to minimal tillage — all of which work together to build good soil health and biodiversity. Once Raja Ram gained confidence in regenerative farming techniques, he began implementing the practices and established a demonstration farm of Soybean with the help of Solidaridad. He says, “I have only used vermicompost and kandapani (liquid made from cow-dung cake) on my soy farm, and I can see there has been improvement in crop growth and leaf quality.” “With the use of a pheromone trap and a yellow sticky card, I don’t have to spray insecticide often. This saves me money and prevents overexposure of my crops to chemicals,” he adds.
Reviving sustainable agricultural practices and nurturing farmers
Yogesh Tyagi, a 32-year-old BCom graduate, is rewriting his story as a self-made farmer, who believes in sustainable agriculture, in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh. He firmly believes that India's identity is an agrarian one — and he's leading by example. In a world where everyone is chasing jobs, he questions who will nurture our fields and feed the nation. Yogesh envisions a thriving future with every household nurturing a farmer. His message is clear: for robust farming, we need farmers rooted to the soil.
One of the biggest issues of contention for Yogesh is land-leasing for profit. He says, “Quick gains can lead to long lasting damage. Land can completely deteriorate within two years if it is only used for high yields and profits.” His words resonate as a clarion call to safeguard our land, honour our roots, and cherish the lifeline of our nation — farming.
A 3-day induction programme was organised in the Delhi office from 21 to 23 August 2023 for 13 new staff who joined us in and after May 2023 in different projects and locations at various levels. A few old colleagues from the castor project, Gujarat, also participated in the induction. It was a good opportunity for them to meet colleagues from other locations and Delhi; and enhance their understanding of our vision & mission, the MASP, pillars of RECLAIM sustainability, various commodity projects, organizational systems and processes among others. They went back feeling more connected with Solidaridad’s vision and the larger team, which will help them to adjust to their new roles with enhanced efficiency and productivity.
Raj Kumar, joined us in August as an Assistant Manager in Gujarat. He comes with eight years of experience in end to end project management, strategizing partnerships, team management, government advisory & consulting, and building self-sustaining systems. He has done his Post Graduate Diploma in Forestry Management (PGDFM) with dual specialisation in Developmental Management and Environmental Management from Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal.
Purshottam, joined us in August as an Assistant Manager in Gujarat. He has more than 15 years of experience in project cycle management, capacity building of institutions in social sector, monitoring and impact assessment, MIS & IEC material development. He has done his M.Sc in Agriculture from Rajasthan Agricultural University, Bikaner.
Anurag Singh, joined us in August as a Programme Officer-MSME, Textiles in Panipat. He has more than nine years of working experience in the textile sector. He has worked with Vardhman Fabrics and Jayshree Textiles in the past. He has done his B.Tech in Textile Chemistry from the Government Central Textile Institute, Kanpur.
Govind Singh, joined us in August as a Field Coordinator-MSME, Textiles in Panipat. He has four years of experience in reporting, documentation, water testing and day to day field operations. He has done his Bachelors in Commerce from the Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak.
Sunil Singh, joined us in August as an Administrative and Finance Officer in Panipat. He has fifteen years of experience in accounts, finance, vendor management, procurement and administration. He has completed his B.Com (Hon) from Ranchi University. Previously, he was associated with Save the Children, Patna
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