Whether it be the dissemination of knowledge, experimentation with a new system of agriculture, or the introduction of new technology, Solidaridad’s interventions are influencing the activities of numerous farmers and organisations all across India. In this month’s newsletter, we take a look at the developments, programmes and initiatives that have, according to the farmers themselves, left a lasting mark in their lives.
Showcasing programmes and impact at World Food India 2023
Solidaridad, with support from the Netherlands Embassy, had a dedicated pavilion and stall showcasing diverse, impactful programmes, at the World Food India (WFI) 2023 event at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, in early November. Marisa Gerards, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to India, and Michiel van Erkel, Agricultural Counsellor, Netherlands Embassy, visited the Solidaridad pavilion to show their encouragement.
Leather Industry Discusses Ways to Reduce Environmental Footprint of Tanneries
Solidaridad recently organised a stakeholder meeting, chaired by Franck Viault (Head of Cooperation, Delegation of EU in India), in Kolkata. The event, which took place on the sidelines of the Bengal Global Summit 2023, saw experts from the leather industry, officials of the European Union and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as well as key voices from the tanners’ associations discuss ways to reduce the environmental footprint of the tanneries through the introduction of improved practices and technologies. This stakeholder meeting was organised as part of the ongoing initiative under the EU SWITCH-Asia project titled ‘Effective Waste Management and Sustainable Development of the MSME Tanning Companies in the Kolkata Leather Cluster (Bantala)’. Various interventions introduced under the project that have significantly optimised water usage and managed effluent reduction to a large extent in Bantala were also discussed.
The event saw the participation of the project partners (PISIE, Dugros and Stahl), GCELT (Government College of Engineering and Leather Technology), ILPA (Indian Leather Products Association), ILTA (Indian Leather Technologists’ Association), TUV SUD South Asia Pvt. Ltd. and NINFET (National Institute of Natural Fibre Engineering and Technology). Along with this, PISIE also facilitated a formal collaboration between ILSA and Calcutta Leather Complex (CLC) Tanners Association to utilise the solid waste of the leather sector for making fertilisers. A memorandum of understanding was signed in the presence of Rajesh Pandey, Principal Secretary, MSME, Government of West Bengal.
Experimenting with maize cultivation in Odisha
Solidaridad, in collaboration with Livelihood Alternatives (a social enterprise), has demonstrated maize cultivation at Mohana block in Gajapati district, Odisha, under the Smart Agri Project, a CSR initiative of Indus Towers and the Vodafone-Idea Foundation. A team of experts from the two organisations encouraged the farmers to adopt chemical-free agronomic practices which paid good dividends. A crop-cutting exercise was held in a 25-square-metre-large field in Kaithapada village, in order to assess the potential yield and to incorporate a scientific system of harvesting among the smallholders. By adopting these practices, the overall per-acre yield was recorded at around 39 quintals, a significant increase compared to the usual yield of 25 quintals per acre. The increase in yield, hope experts, will eventually pave the way for the widespread adoption of scientific, sustainable agriculture practices among the farmers.
Promoting knowledge of traditional remedies among dairy farmers
A training programme, conducted in late October, involved women dairy farmers from several villages in Phaltan block, Maharashtra.It aimed to boost their knowledge and skills in ethnoveterinary treatments – particularly, the use of herbal plants and traditional remedies to manage illnesses among farm animals. The training included practical demonstrations on preparing medicines from herbal plants and low-cost treatment methods for sick animals.
Understanding Good Nutrition and Benefits of Soy
Solidaridad and the India Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (IAPEN) collaborated for a workshop in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, highlighting the benefits of soybean. Led by prominent dieticians and nutritionists, the sessions provided valuable insights into soybean processing (from cultivation to the final product) and its nutritional value. The Good Farming-Good Food programme's nutrition team discussed nutritional changes during processing, exploring the impact of different methods on soy-product profiles. A hands-on session by a culinary nutritionist demonstrated practical ways to prepare soy products, emphasising the importance of its integration into daily meals. The workshop included cooking tips, nutritional benefits, and a panel discussion.
Mustard Model Farms Project Kicks off in 20 Districts
The Mustard Model Farms project has been initiated in 20 districts of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. Under the programme, 1,450 mustard model farms are being set up in the current rabi season. This joint initiative with the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) aspires to create a model for mustard cultivation that not only meets India's growing demand for edible oils but also elevates the socio-economic well-being of the farming communities in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Through the programme, Solidaridad and SEA are contributing to the larger goal of making India self-reliant in edible oils, aligning with national priorities and promoting sustainable practices that benefit farmers and the entire agricultural value chain.
Scaling up leather waste-management capabilities and technologies
A pyrolysis machine was introduced at Pallavaram Tanners Industrial Effluent Company Ltd. (PTIET), Tamil Nadu, in late October. It was inaugurated by Eleonora Avagliano, Monitoring & Evaluation Expert, European Union, and PTIET’s Board of Directors. The pyrolysis machine converts tannery solid wastes into biochar for enriching the soil, and capturing carbon and chrome. The carbon-rich biochar enhances plant growth, improves soil water-retention and water-holding capacity. This eco-friendly initiative reduces the overall environmental impacts from solid waste, and has been appreciated by tanneries in the region.
At Farmers' Convention, Solidaridad-backed agripreneurs display bio-inputs, processed products
A farmers’ convention, organised in collaboration with Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Adilabad district, Telangana, was attended by Y.G. Prasad, Director of Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), agricultural officials and nearly 600 local farmers. Agri-entrepreneurs supported by Solidaridad showcased their products (such as bio-inputs and processed products like dal) at the stalls, while Mahesh Solase, Project Manager, Solidaridad India, highlighted the objectives of and interventions under the Smart Agri project. Farmers at the event shared positive feedback on Solidaridad’s advisories and training.
In Nagpur, women farmers and mentors felicitated with Sakhi trophy
On 7 November 2023, Solidaridad organised a ‘Farmers’ Day’ programme for women at the resource and training centre in Borujwada village, Nagpur district, Maharashtra. The event was held in association with the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA). The women farmers were lauded for their role as community mentors and motivators (who inspire others to adopt good agricultural practices), and were felicitated with a Sakhi trophy and a certificate. Additionally, Solidaridad staff also trained them on good agricultural practices.
Going green in Tamil Nadu
Solidaridad, in collaboration with the Ranipet Tannery Effluent Treatment Company (Ranitec), organised a tree-planting event in late October, in Ranipet district, Tamil Nadu. The event was attended by S Valarmathi, District Collector, Eleonora Avagliano, Monitoring & Evaluation Expert, European Union, officials of the State Pollution Control Board and the Forest Department. At the event, 660 saplings of indigenous varieties were planted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tanneries and to foster community health and well-being. The trees will be geo-tagged by the Forest Department in order to monitor their growth.
Transforming sugarcane farming, one field at a time
Milind Patil, a demo plot holder from Pisatri village in Kolhapur district, Maharashtra, stands out as an exceptional farmer dedicated to regenerative sugarcane farming.
Milind's dedication to sustainable agriculture is further emphasised by his participation in the Solidaridad Master Training Programme. This initiative focuses on regenerative sugarcane farming techniques, such as trash mulching, vermicomposting, and green manuring. By championing these methods, Milind is actively contributing to a greener and more sustainable future, not just for Pisatri but for the community at large as well.
Recently, Milind was invited by a local radio channel, Mango FM, to share his insights on improving soil health. He discussed the positive outcomes of adopting good agricultural practices, which not only led to increased yield but also underscored his commitment to nurturing the land for future generations. His story serves as a beacon of hope for farmers, highlighting the transformative impact of regenerative agriculture – one sugarcane field at a time.
Empowering Sustainable Growth in Tea Gardens
Bipul Basumatary, a young tea grower and entrepreneur from Simalguri village of Udalguri, Assam, started his sustainable tea farming journey in 2006 with a 1.6 ha plantation . Trained by organisations like the Tea Research Association, Assam Agriculture University and honing on the skills like cultivating quality tea, his vision was to promote small tea grower's tea in the market. He started "Dimakuchi Tea'', hand rolled green tea in 2018 which gradually started gaining local market dominance. After taking training from Solidaridad's "Trinitea Programme'' he realised that achieving quality goes beyond manufacturing—it involves meticulous plucking and field maintenance as well. In 2022, he set up a mini green tea factory producing 10,000 Kgs annually. Today, Bipul is a successful entrepreneur, and he is thankful to the Trinitea programme for motivating him to dream big.
A Pathway to Sustainability and Prosperity
Deshraj Meena, a resident of Bhagwanpura village in the Tonk district of Rajasthan, is a lead farmer under the Smart Agri project who owns a 3.5-acre guava farm. Over the years, he has been using dry goat dung as manure, without being aware of the process of composting it. Thus, this organic fertiliser was not yielding the desired results, and he was grappling with decreasing yields.
Things changed for the better once he started participating in the Smart Agri project. During the meetings, he learned about vermicomposting, understanding how humble earthworms could transform organic waste into nutrient-rich compost. Inspired by the possibilities, Deshraj obtained a vermicompost unit under the Smart Agri programme in May 2022, and was provided training on its functioning and usage. This year, in June 2023, he applied only vermicompost manure and vermi-wash in his guava farm. The transformation has been remarkable, and Deshraj is delighted with the improved quality and quantity of his disease-resistant fruits. The production on his farm has ballooned to 36,000 kg this year, and he has been able to earn ₹7 lakh so far — ₹1 lakh more than what he had earned last year.
The increased earnings have afforded him an opportunity to invest in the straw-supply business. He also plans to expand his vermicomposting venture and grow more crops. More power to Deshraj and his eco-friendly endeavours!
Mukesh Menaria, joined us on 6 November as Accounts and Administrative Officer in Palanpur. He comes with five years of experience in accounting, finance and has also worked in short term government projects.
Neelima Namdeorao Pahurkar
Programme Officer - Nagpur
Manager-Gender & Documentation - Delhi
Mr Gyana Ranjan Sarangi
Programme Manager - Odisha
Mr Prasad Trimbak Avsare
Certification Officer - Nagpur
Anand Satyanarayan Tiwari
Assistant Programme Manager - Nagpur