Project phase I
In the east Indian states Jharkhand and West Bengal thousands of small farmers are living in extreme poverty. That, however, poor Indian pople have a principle right to receive governmental services , is known only to a few of them, Most of the families can generate ohnly six to nine months in the year their food requirement for a well balanced nutrition themselves. Many farmers have to leave their families as migrant workers and go for wage labour into the big towns.
Hope for a better life
But now hope is germinating at the small farmers: Together with local partners the world hunger organisation supports smallest farms at the introduction of sustainable integrated agricultural farming systems (SIFS).
This system is oriented on the natural cycle and provides an integrated relation for growing field crops, gardening and lifestock breeding. The objective is to reduce risks of production and to increase in this way the fertility of the soil, to increase the productivity and to improve the human food and health security at long-term.
Learning of sustainable agriculture
However, changes do not happen overnight and changes have to be tested. The world hunger Organisation invited for workshops and explained the direct connection between resource protection and food security. Together the farmers identified their specific Problems, developed individual requirement plannings and foundet in total 235 farmers' groups.
In the so-called farmer field schools the farmers come to know the benefits of resource saving growing methods and biodiversity. The training assists the farmers over at least one complete sowing cycle. In this way they learn the principles of sustainable farming not only theoretical but they can test these directly on their fields and mutually reflect the effect.
Diversification and all-around approach
Farmers who participate in project measures now grow different kinds of grain and vegetable and utilise, for instance, insteasd of chemical pesticides lifestock manure as natural fertiliser because this is significantly cheaper than the industrial products.
These farmers cooperate and establish new irrigation systems to collect rainwater to be more Independent from climatic conditions. In addition ridges and terracings were built. Just by the storage of ground water the farmers saves approximately 40,000 Euros.
Thanks to the sustainable farming methods farmers today achieve significantly improved harvests. This convinced also the initially sceptical small farmers, such as Kedar Sing. In the farmer co-operative he came to know the methods of sustainable agriculture and to appreciate them.
Today he is better prepared for unexpected extremes of weather, is able to safely nourish his family with his products, feed his animals on the farm and despite of all this sell some surpluses. "With the new methods I achieved a higher yield on less land than before on a larger area", Kedar Sing reports with satisfaction.
Healthy cuisine for the whole family
Also the wives of the small farmers were offered workshops by the partners of the world hunger organisation to improve the nutrition situation of the families. They intensively analysed the manifold products and experienced more of their different nutrients.
Together they learned to carefully cook vegetable, herbs and fruits, to preserve vitamins and also kitchen gardens were established to expand the dietary diversity for the families.
Improved added value
The increase of agricultural productivity and the diversification, however, is not sufficient to ensure the long-term human nutrition. Just poor farmers are forced to sell their products after harvest at rock-bottom prices.
Therefore, the local partners of the world hunger organisation help farmers to improve the value added chain and the marketing in the long term from sustainable production via the storage up to the sale and to take up also contact to service providers, authorities and credit grantors.
In order to be able to achieve now good prices in the regional markets, many farmers have established committees and co-operatives. In many places they establish tree nurseries, manage seed Banks and organise the Joint utilisation of implements.
Selfconscious into the future
The obvious success due to new production methods and the prositive experiences in a community encourage the individual farmers and their families: "These ideas of sustainable agriculture have changed myself and my work significantly. Now I know that with this new knowledge I will become an independent farmer within the years to come.", small farmer Govind Marandi describes his situation.
There cannot be any better motivation for the future work in the region - therefore the acditivies round about sustainable agriculture, resource projection and food security will also be continued in 2015 with much engagement.