The real action in terms of implementation on this theme is at present concentrated in SPWD’s field projects in Jharkhand and West Bengal. Soil and water conservation, protective irrigation, reclamation of degraded land and sustainable management of natural resources were the core of SPWD’s program in the eastern region. This led to an increase in livelihood through the improvement of agriculture, agro-forestry, plantation, fodder development on private and community land. For this, a number of technologies were planned and applied in different villages as per the requirements and the socio-economic conditions of the area.
The thrust of SPWD in the eastern region during the last decade has been on grounding and scaling up of agroecological approaches that reduce reliance on purchased inputs and loans for farming, positioning itself as a solution to extreme indebtedness and distress among Indian farmers. This approach has of late finally penetrated international policy circles among agroecologists, food activists and policy advocates but the success on the ground at a scale is limited. The three pillars that define SPWD’s work from its inception till date in the eastern region are –
- Protective irrigation to secure rainfed crops: insulating rainfed crops from distributional failures of rainfall.
- Healthy and productive soils: regular addition of organic matter inland in rainfed areas.
- Agro-ecological innovations that increase natural synergies and reduce external inputs/ cost of production. Innovations like SRI, NPM, SIFS others as emerging approaches founded on enhancing farmers’ knowledge and management skills.
SPWD is implementing a program on sustainable agriculture in order to tackle issues that small and marginal farmers are faced with. The concept of Sustainable Integrated Farming Systems (SIFS) for small and marginal farmers is being promoted as an improved version of mixed cropping. The overall objective of the Sustainable Integrated Farming System approach is four-fold (a) Improve household food, nutrition and livelihood security (b) Improve food, livelihood and income diversity (c) Improve ecological sustainability and (d) Strengthen the local economy. Farmer Field School is being organized with the group of farmers to equip them with the knowledge needed to develop their farms.
To adopt sustainable agro-ecological farming practices and to empower the youth for making them social and environmental service providers in terms of agricultural and related inputs, SPWD’s Green College program is acting as a rolling wheel for those who possess the potential to grow and become agricultural entrepreneurs. SPWD is involved in Mahila Kisan Shashaktikaran Pariyojna (MKSP) in four districts of Jharkhand – to improve the present status of women in agriculture and to enhance the opportunities for their empowerment.
SPWD will continue its work on the theme of ‘Agroecology and food security’ and apart from its field projects specifically focus on the exclusion of rainfed agriculture within the agricultural policy mechanisms. This should be in addition to its current thrust of engaging with government and donor-funded programs from where it derives its learning’s from the field.