AIP Empowers Indian Farmers to Break the Poverty Cycle
Dr Ashok Kumar
Professor in Soil Science
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture and Technology
Meerut, Uttar Pradesh

Due to environmental changes and population growth, farmers in the state of Uttar Pradesh are facing a number of hardships with decrease in the size of land holding; decrease in underground water levels and degrading soil fertility, including soil erosion, deforestation, crop residues burning , water mismanagement , and erratic rainfall. These issues have drastically affected the climate of the region, negatively influencing agricultural productivity, food security and income of the farmers.

Efficient natural resource management in agriculture is crucial for pro-poor growth; AIP is working towards reducing poverty and hunger, promoting broad-based economic growth and protecting the environment. AIP aims to provide effective natural resource management practices to optimize yield to foster growth and improve sustainable farming in Uttar Pradesh.

Depletion of natural resources is also one of the primary reasons that the farming community is facing a crisis today. Poor returns on cultivation, poor yield over a period of time, lack of non-farm opportunities forebode an impending socio-economic crisis in rural India. Having said that, there are multiple risks involved in the farming business, which are associated with yield, price, input, technology and credit, among others. Many of the issues associated with lower farm yields and resulting poverty are due to ineffective natural resource management.

The Agricultural Innovation Partnership (AIP) is working to bring down these issues by teaching farmers simple Natural Resource Management (NRM) techniques that not only help conserve the environment, but also help improve their incomes.

In May 2012, AIP launched its Technology Dissemination and Income Improvement Activity (TDIIA), which aims to improve the income of more than 5000 farmers by 2014. Through six workshops, conducted during 2012 and early 2013, AIP, in coordination with its partner universities, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture and Technology and Krishi Vigyan Kendra and Tata Chemicals Limited has trained more than 1400 farmers in NRM and sustainable farming since then. Since its inception, the program has benefitted several farmers. Here is one such story of a small farmer named Sh Braham Pal Singh S/O Sh Kabool Singh Village-Jagaheri Muzaffarnagar.

Braham Pal Singh, a 45-year-old farmer who grows Sugar cane in 2 hectare of land in his distant village of Jagaheri (Muzaffar nagar) in Western Uttar Pradesh, was trained by AIP in the month of May of 2012. He quickly adopted several NRM techniques such as water management through Furrow irrigated raised bed planting system and Precision farming, IPM, Vermicompost making and effective and balanced fertilizer use. This helped him for saving water through effective water usage, improving soil health through balance use of fertilizers and recycling of farm waste hence production and productivity improved by 25 %. These newly adopted practices have helped him to save money on resources (critical input) while increasing production by 25% the net profit increase by Rs 42000 /ha. By the end of 2012, he had saved Rs 42000 from just a hectare of land. This has helped him to increase his profits and he is now using the profits to enhance his income by diversifying into French bean, scented rice and local market vegetables. Moreover, he is now able to improve his standard of living, support his family and educate his siblings.

Braham Pal Singh says that he now can effectively manage his small farm and better understand why NRM is so important for a marginal farmer like him. He has understood that effective NRM practice is the only effective way to make both farm and income sustainable. Having gained from the AIP programs, he has now initiated several efforts towards conserving the environment in his community. He has started training other farmers in his village on ways of effectively managing their fields through natural resources management programs.

To date, hundreds of farmers trained by AIP have experienced significant positive difference in their lives through efficient natural resources management techniques taught by AIP and have adopted NRM techniques such as water conservation, pest management, reforestation, crop diversification, crop rotation and soil health controls. Due to AIP’s concerted efforts, farmers are now benefiting from better resources management, with an increase in their yields and incomes. AIP has helped many such marginal farmers like Braham Pal Singh build capacity for integrated, participatory and sustainable management of natural resources.

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