Across the globe, forest is known to be of critical importance for habitats in terms of the biological diversity they contain and in terms of the ecological functions they serve. These ecological services of forests are similarly many. The ecosystem regulate the climate both at local and at global level, restructure the weather pattern and hydrological cycle, protects the very important watershed and the vegetation and water flow and the top soil. Scientists debate the linkages between biological diversity and ecological services. Those who believe in a strong link argue that any ecosystem, forests included, cannot cope with stresses and shocks if the diversity of the system has been reduced.
Development and protection of forest along with deriving economic benefits for the stakeholders in a sustainable manner has been one of the key areas of intervention for VIKSAT particularly in tribal areas of Gujarat. Activities like Joint Forestry Management (JFM), afforestation, social forestry, grassland development, nursery development etc, have been the means to address the same. The activities are carried out keeping in mind the ecological, economical and social well-being aspects of the communities.
VIKSAT undertook several initiatives to restore, manage and develop the forest resource. The critical factor in doing so is the approach that VIKSAT undertook in all these initiatives. The pro people approach which signifies the fact that people are the best managers and care takers of the resources made significant difference. The approach leads us to formation, strengthening and sustaining institutions’ of people while undertaking any activity. Some of the key intervention are listed below.
Joint Forest Management Programme
At VIKSAT, joint forest management is one of the largest thematic areas comprises a range of community interventions that affect whole of the forest association. This includes both its protection and affirmation of economic activities from them. Along the side, VIKSAT apprehends this association of the communities with forests and practises all its forest management activities while working closely with them. This widely acknowledged community forest management has demonstrated very well in all field areas where VIKSAT has worked, especially Bhiloda taluka of Sabarkantha district.
VIKSAT’s work on Joint Forest Management has been particularly in Bhiloda block in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat has been widely acknowledged by the community as well as its learning have been feeding into policy dialogues on JFM. At present there are 77 Tree Growers Cooperative Societies (TGCS) protecting around 7992 hectares of forest land. Out of the 77 TGCs 56 are registered under the cooperative society act which gives them an independent legal identity and formal recognition to assert their rights over the protected land.
Capacity Building of People’s Institutions - SAKSHAM
Sangathan Kshamata Manch (SAKSHAM) was formed in 1995 as an informal network of federations of PIs, registered as a Public Trust under the Bombay Public Trust Act 1950. SAKSHAM has representation from 12 taluka level federations across 9 districts out of 12 in Gujarat, with a total membership of 417 JFMCs and 47,510 members, out of which 35,550 are men and 11,960 are women. A total land of 53,209.91 hectares is under protection by its members. The federation has its specified objectives, which these members work for. These federations are involved in promoting forest protection and wasteland development activities. Also, SAKSHAM facilitates the policy advocacy issues on behalf of the village level JFM Committees.
To promote the activities of SAKSHAM federation, Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) funded the project titled ‘Capacity Building as a means of Self Reliance of SAKSHAM, representative body of People’s Institution under JFM activities in Gujarat’. The objectives of the project include following activities to:
• expand JFM activities within the State,
• support policy advocacy,
• outreach its concepts to the newer areas,
• include new federations under the SAKSHAM network, and
• enhance the capacity of SAKSHAM federation members and explore employment generation opportunities.
Activities to be carried under the project are exploratory visits, training programmes, preparing NTFP database, skilled training on entrepreneurship development, NTFP collection and process, GIS Application: digitalization, data linking & preparaing thematic map, quarterly review meeting and publishing newsletter.
Training to Institutionalise JFM
Rajasthan Forestry & Biodiversity Project (RFBP) was being implemented in 18 districts covering 26 forest divisions in Rajasthan with the financial aid of the Japan Bank for International Corporation (JBIC), Japan with an objective to restore ecological status of Aravallis, conserve biodiversity, check desertification, improve moisture regime and protect infrastructure. The project also aimed at providing fuel, fodder, timber and NTFPs along with employment generation in the rural areas.
The programme was designed to do training need analysis (TNA), design training modules and impart training for capacity building of different stakeholders and institutionalisation of JFM programme in Rajasthan.
a) Training Need Analysis
The study of TNA covered entire RFD staff including range officers, foresters/forest guards and cattle guards. Methodology for TNA included various activities, such as identifying the training need, designing of questionnaires for various cadres, mobilisation & orientation of survey team, field testing, data collection and data analysis.
b) Syllabus Development
On the basis of results of TNA, training syllabus was proposed for different stakeholders and the following training modules were developed:
• Training Module for Village Forest Protection and Management Committees (VFPMCs)
• Training Module for NGOs
• Training Module for Public Representatives (Panchayat & Sarpanch)
• Training Module for range forest officers, foresters, forest guards and cattle guards
c) Training Programmes
Training programmes were conducted for all the different cadres after consulting the Director, Forest Training Institute, Jaipur. The details of trainings conducted for different cadres are provided below:
No. of participants
December 4, 2007
December 5, 2007
Public Representatives (Panch & Sarpanch)
December 18, 2007
Field staff of Forest Department
December 19 & 20, 2007
Integrated Grassland Development Program in Kachchh
VIKSAT’s approach of ecological development combining with economic gain for stakeholder in sustainable manner has led coordinating with Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology (GUIDE) and Forest Department for an Integrated Grassland Development Programme.
The programme is currently being operationalised in Khavda Pacham area which falls under the famous Banni grass land area located along the fringe of Rann of Kachchh. It is renowned for ecologically significant and naturally rich grasslands. Thanks to its huge pasturelands and rich vegetation, animal husbandry has been prospered in this area as principal source of income and provided secured livelihood for thousands of its native residents. However, due to open grazing, overexploitation of its resources like water for commercial purpose, ingression of salinity and various ecological reasons the productivity of grass land has persistently declined in the last few decades. These ecological changes have direct implication on the livelihoods of Banni population and consecutively would result further exploitation of the grasslands. In 12th Finance Commission, as declared by the Government of India, a decision was taken to revive the ruined grasslands across the country. In Gujarat, for revitalization of grassland with direct benefit to local community Forest Department and GUIDE as nodal agency have came out with participatory fodder plot development program.
The main objectives of the program are as under:
o To strengthen the traditional practices of conservation of Grassland
o To prevent the migration of Maldhari’s by developing fodder sources
o To develop and conserve the grassland and develop various varieties of grasses
o To protect and develop the environment by sustainable natural resource management
o To reduce salinity ingression of land through planned land management approach
o To create awareness for the conservation and development of Banni area
As a part of this program, Bhumi Sankalit Ghasiya Jamin Vikas Karyakram is being implemented by VIKSAT in 5 groups of 14 Panchayat villages. The key activities of the Program includes formation of grassland development committees (GDCs), building their capacities and developing grass plots with participatory approach ensuring community ownership, equity and sustainability.
Last year, the preliminary task of collection of primary data had been completed in all 13 project villages along with rapport building with local communities and informing them about the programme. This year, the project has moved ahead into implementation stage with grass plots being developed in two villages i.e. Bhojardo and Motidadar.
a. Bhojardo Grass Plot
In Bhojardo village, with people’s participatory approach, 100 ha, grass plot has been developed. With an investment of more than 12 Lakh rupees it is expected to have an output of around 60 tons of grass during the first year of harvest itself. The major activities carried out on the plot during this year are as under:
b. Motidadar Grass Plot
In Motidadadar village, 2 grass plot areas have been selected in collaboration with the local people and total 50 ha grass plots is planned to be developed in the village. There are various activities that are being planned and a detailed action plan has been prepared. An estimated budget has been prepared and approved by the Gramsabha and this has been awaiting approval from the district level. After the approval and sanction of the budget, work will be initiated and executed at the earliest to get the benefit of khariff season.
National Environment Awareness Campaign (NEAC)
Since last 24 years National Environment Awareness Campaign (NEAC) is being sponsored by Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), GoI for which VIKSAT is Regional Resource Agency (RRA) for Gujarat, Diu – Daman since 1986. This annual campaign conducted on the identified on the specific environmental theme every year. This was done so that participating organizations from all over the country can spread environmental awareness on a particular theme. Non – Governmental organizations, School, Colleges, Nature Clubs, Education and Training Institutions, actively involved in the field of environment education and awareness takes part in the campaign and spread awareness through various programs like seminar, workshops, rallies, padyatra, Jatha, competitions, street play, puppet show, meetings, folk media and folk dance.
The National Theme for the year 2009-10 is “CLIMATE CHANGE”. This included sub themes such as plantation programme, use of wind & solar energy, restore and maintain of water bodies, wetland conservation, role of community in biodiversity conservation, solid waste management of municipal, Biomedical and plastic waste.
Various organizations, schools, colleges, nature clubs applied to participate in the programme. In total 482 proposals were sanctioned by MoEF out of the 778 proposals received from the region. As a prelude to implementation, state level orientation workshop was organized for the participating organizations and the fund was released during the workshop.
The state level orientation workshop was held on January 19, 2010 and was inaugurated by Honourable Minister of State (Independent Charge) of MoEF, GoI, Shri Jairam Ramesh along with Shri S K Nanda IAS, Principal Secretary, Environment and Forests, GoG and Shri C L Meena, IAS Chairman Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) who were the guests of honour.
The Honb. Minister shared his concern about the kind of impact that will be reflected on stakeholder due climate change. He feared that 35 crores of our population residing in the eight coastal states would be affected the most due to rising sea level, again an effect of climate change. He was concerned over the decreasing snowfall in the Himalayan mountain range which would ultimately result into contraction of glaciers posing a threat to the very existence of the Himalayan Rivers. Shri Ramesh enlisted the causes of Climate Change such as increase in methane emissions, increase in carbon dioxide emissions, deforestation, mindless mining of natural resources for rapid industrialisation and development and excessive use of fossil fuels. However, he was of the opinion that public awareness would definitely help to resolve the problem. Addressing the representatives of various NGOs working for Environment Conservation, the Minister reaffirm on the need to undertake re-forestation drive in order to enhance the national forest cover as well as to lock excess Carbon Dioxide. Shri Ramesh assigned these representatives with the task to see that such Environment Conservation drive is undertaken in its true spirit.
Land and water as finite resources encounters sever pressure from a growing population as well as changes in consumption and production patterns due to un-sustainable development, urbanisation and industrialisation. These coupled together are resulting in rapid decrease in freshwater availability and production capability of the available land. The ever increasing demand for water and food possess the greatest challenges and the situation is getting alarming in the days to come.
An integrated land and water resources management which compromise maintaining a balance as required for sustained availability of the resources. Declining land and water quality and increasing pollution exacerbates the need to address the causes not just for mitigation but for regeneration and restoration of the resource base.
As one of its main thematic areas, VIKSAT takes up programmes under land and water management, which holds a key to sustainable livelihood for many in the rural regions. The special focus is on managing land and water resources through PIs. VIKSAT has been addressing common but grave problems of depletion of groundwater, droughts etc. through groundwater management, artificial recharge, RWH and adaptive strategies for drought.
Restoring, rejuvenation and recharging of the land and water both in terms of quality and quantity have been one of the most critical area for the organisation. The focus on land and water management in terms of watershed development, land development, improved agriculture practices, change of cropping pattern, providing irrigation support, adoption of new technology and knowledge has been the focus area. The current interventions are mentioned below.
Watershed Development Projects
Watershed development is an important approach to improve the social and economic conditions of people living in resource starved semiarid regions covering approximately two-thirds of the country’s agricultural land. In addition to achieving biophysical objectives, contemporary watershed aims to promote the livelihoods of rural people, especially the poor and disadvantaged.
The process of watershed development includes harvesting rainwater wherever it falls, increasing green cover and adopting sustainable land husbandry practices in the watershed. It implies making bunds, digging trenches, building gully plugs etc in a way that will arrest the rapid flow of water from hill slopes to the ground. This is necessary because during the few days of rainfall, the tendency of water is to gush down the slopes and also take the top soil cover along with it. This means that there is no water conservation and precious fertile soil is lost too. When this flow is reduced or made to go through steps, water percolates into the ground at various spots and increases the underground water table. At the bottom of the hills, it collects to form water reservoirs. And while flowing down slowly it helps turn patches of land green.
From mid-eighties, development of dry-land agriculture on watershed basis has been a national strategy for sustained productivity and rational utilization of natural resources. The total resource can be properly developed only by adopting watershed approach. In terms of resource development, it covers development and management of resources like soil, water, vegetation and associated components. It essentially relates to soil and water conservation in the watershed which includes proper land use, protection of land against all forms of degradation, building and maintaining soil fertility, water harvesting and conservation and harvesting, proper management of surface and ground water, flood protection, sediment reduction, increasing productivity from land uses etc.
VIKSAT has been facilitating two of such projects in Khedbrahma block, Sabarkantha district and it is also implementing watershed plus project in one of the two watershed development projects.
Sembaliya watershed project
VIKSAT initiated watershed based interventions since February 2005 in tribal dominated villages namely Sembaliya, Dantiya, Delwada, Umbarva, Ambasar and Chhochhar known as Poshina belt in Khedbrahma block of Sabarkantha district, Gujarat and Nayavas village of Kotada block of Rajasthan. The patient and consistent efforts have resulted into completion of the several phases. During the reporting year, the project received sanction for ‘Full Implementation Phase (FIP)’ covering watershed area of 1240 ha.
The project measures include (1) Area Treatment consisting of forest land, grassland and farm land development activities and (2) Drainage Line Activities. The area treatment includes activities like earthen bund, stone bund, continuous contour trenches (CCT), Water Absorption Tents (WAT), plantation on wasteland, sowing of grass seeds, grass seeding etc. The drainage line treatments include activities such as gabion structures, nala plugging, earthen bunds with cement spillway, construction of waste weirs and check dams.
Navamota Watershed Project
VIKSAT also initiated watershed based interventions from February 2008 with support from Indo German Watershed Development Program (IGWDP) – National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) at Navamota and surrounding other six tribal dominated villages, namely Mahudi, Umbora, Bubadiya na Chhapra, Tebda, Tebdi and Kheroj having total geographical area of 1956.7 ha and 1285 families with a population around 9000. The delineated watershed area is 990.58 ha.
The series of programs such as project launching ceremony, cattle treatment camps and human medical camp, training and exposure visits have been conducted which has helped to create a string rapport with the community. Through these activities, information about the watershed activities was disseminated and resulted in to very good understanding of the watershed program which helped to provide momentum to the initial capacity building phase (CBP). The ‘Navamota Juth Jalstrav Vistar Vikas Mandal’ a community organization formed with the facilitation by VIKSAT is now being empowered in the process of implementation of the watershed project.
One of the key aspects of the CBP has been in gaining confidence of the community. Transparency plays an important role in winning trust and confidence of the community to implement community development projects. Towards this goal, the village watershed committee makes the payment, at a public place directly into the hands of the people who work under the project. This is done in the presence of the community leaders, community members and VIKSAT representatives, which has granted greater
credibility to the whole process.
Watershed plus: Enhancing Livelihood Resilience of the Tribal Communities
While technical interventions like soil and water conservation and water resource development is a key to watershed projects, over the years it has been realized that forward linkages for input supply and extension activities also need to be promoted for the required translation of the benefits of watershed projects into generation of additional income. This felt need transformed into an additional component of the watershed project is termed as ‘Watershed Plus’.
The entire project turned up into a combination of two components; component one is an investment in soil and water conservation structures which is a major activity and the second component is for getting maximum mileage of the first component through additional activities. The cutting edge of second component is in providing flexibility to the project and meeting complimentary requirements of the project by establishing forward and backward linkages to achieve the desired results and improvement in socio economic conditions of the people. These ‘Watershed Plus’ involves activities such as capacity building of community members through holding frequent awareness meetings at village level, holding major meetings inviting Village Watershed Committee (VWC) members, community leaders and all concerned residents of the project area for briefing of the project and selection of the beneficiaries, skill development trainings and training and exposure visits..
The following activities have been undertaken under the project.
(a) Skill building trainings
The skill building trainings include trainings for women SHG members for various income generation activities, and youth were given training for repairing of diesel pump and hand pump. The participants were given practical hands-on experience during the training as they were expected to actually repair one diesel pump and one hand pump at the field sites. After the trainings, the participants were also given tool kits to facilitate in the process of income generation.
(b) Interaction with scientists and exposure to promote improved agriculture practices
To provide opportunity for interaction with agriculture scientists and also to expose the community to improved agriculture and animal husbandry practices, visits of selected farmers to Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Khedbrahma, Dantiwada Agricultural University, Navsari Agricultural University and Lachhakadi watershed area were organized. The visits had an impact of widening the vision of the participants. Their motivation and urge for improvement was clearly reflected during the village meetings which followed the visits and can also be observed in the improvement in the quality of work done under watershed project.
(c) Demonstrations for Improved Agricultural Practices
The second component of the watershed plus project involves demonstrations of improved agricultural practices by some of the dynamic farmers of the project area with inputs from scientists. During the year, demonstrations were conducted for Maize, Cotton, Groundnut, Castor, Pigeon pea, Green gram and Brinjal.
(d) Celebration of Field Days
Field day celebration provide an opportunity to a large number of farmers to assemble at the selected demonstration plot to themselves witness the success of the trail in terms of considerably increase in the crop yield after adoption of the improved agricultural practices suggested by the scientists.
(e) Support for Irrigation- Provision of Pipe line
Support for irrigation is one of the major requirements which farmers often require after a watershed project. This is particularly important in tribal areas where agriculture land is scattered and farmers are having minimal exposure to irrigation as traditionally the agriculture pattern is rain fed. Lack of exposure with low investment capability, the small and marginal farmers generally find it difficult to try different irrigation methodology on their own and hence required external support towards creating a demonstration effect. Thus to begin with, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipes of 100 meters running length and fittings were provided to the 25 beneficiaries. This helped the farmers in applying irrigation largely to their cotton and wheat crops. As a result, the crop growth was good and farmers got higher production.
(f) Seed kits distribution
Again as mentioned above, provision of improved seeds, is also essential for motivating the farmers to shift towards improved varieties. Thus seed kits for Wheat, Lucerne and Green gram crops were distributed to total 58 farmers.
(g) Demonstration of Drum kit irrigation in vegetable crops
The farmers usually prefer flood irrigation when water is abundantly available for irrigation since it is the simplest method of irrigation. However, where the water is in short supply, micro irrigation systems (MIS) provide best solution to address irrigation needs. Further, it also enhances production of the crop at least by 30 per cent as per experience of the scientists. To demonstrate the same, 10 drum kits along with good quality vegetable seeds were also distributed to beneficiaries.
(h) Reconstruction of wells
There are large number of ‘Kachcha’ wells in the project area which are filled up by the soil during heavy rain falls and storms. The farmers have to take out the soil from the well to rejuvenate the well. Very often, this is not done in time and ultimately the crop is deprived of irrigation at a critical stage. To demonstrate the importance of well strengthening and help a few of the needy farmers, well strengthening activity was implemented. Three farmers were able to implement the activity out of five selected beneficiaries.
(i) Well Deepening
In the project villages, some farmers use wells for irrigation as well as drinking water purposes. But after khariff season, the availability of water in their wells is considerably reduced. The farmers felt that if the wells were deepened by about 10 feet, it might improve the water quantity available for irrigation. For this purpose, nineteen farmers were supported with well deepening. As a result, more water became available for irrigation in Khariff season particularly providing for supportive irrigation to cotton. It also resulted in the increase of the area of the irrigated land during khariff season and some of the farmers also had additional water for irrigation of Rabi crops.
(j) Irrigation development on group basis:
While it is not possible and even feasible to promote individual wells for everyone, VIKSAT has been encouraging small and marginal farmers to join hands and form small groups to take advantage of their collective strength to mitigate their problems of irrigation through the concept of group wells. Under this, a beneficiary group was formed where one of the farmer was having a open live well in his field with sufficient water but unable to irrigate his own entire field nor able to sell the water to neighbouring farmers due to lack of water lifting device. The group was encouraged to install good quality diesel engine to lift water from the well and provide water for irrigation to all the members of the group. The efforts to promote group based irrigation helped 20 farmers to come together and form three groups. These three groups contributed their cash contribution and installed diesel engines (10 HP) in the month of March 2010.
(k) Veterinary Camps
In project villages, veterinary facilities are inadequate and lack the medical treatment of their animals. Camps are important for vaccination, diagnosis and treatment of the animals at village level. For providing veterinary services at village level, five camps were organized- three in the month of September 2009 and two follow-up camps in the month of January 2010, in three of the Sembaliya watershed project villages. The surrounding project villages were also informed about the camps. Veterinary camps were organized with technical support from Department of Animal Husbandry, Himmatnagar. Overall, 658 farmers participated in three camps and 2111 animals were treated.
Convergence with Government Department
(a) Nursery development with forest department (Social)
District Department of Social Forestry in Sabarkantha district had invited NGO representatives of the district to seek participation for promotion of social forestry. In this meeting, VIKSAT representative informed the department about the watershed projects along with watershed Plus project implemented in the tribal villages of Khedbrahma block. Taking the note of the same, forest department offered a nursery programme for each of the two watersheds.
(b) Promotion of Horticulture Crop in Tribal Area with Horticulture Department
In Bhiloda field office area, VIKSAT has collaborated with the Horticulture Department, Himmatnagar for gaining 50% subsidy for farmers for 1000 saplings of improved variety of Mango. The village wise list is given below.
Drought Proofing Programme
A Ford Foundation sponsored Drought Proofing Program is being implemented through a network of NGOs in Kachchha under the gambit of the Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan (KNNA) since December, 2008. VIKSAT being a partner of the network is implementing the program in a cluster of 14 villages.
The major objectives of the program are as follows:
1. To improve the Socio-Economic Condition of the people by up scaling the local resource-livestock and soil.
2. To provide drinking water by coordination and participation with different stakeholders.
3. To provide services for better livestock, such as –Door step Vet. Services produce good quality fodder and maintain supply throughout the year.
This program is implemented with participation of village people. Initially, in all 14 villages, participatory rural appraisal (PRA) exercises were carried out and database has been created of all 14 villages. Village Development Committees (VDCs) are also formed in all 14 villages. The main activities carried out by VIKSAT under the program include developing the milk markets, fodder plot creation and provision of veterinary services.
Livestock is major source of income for the people living in Banni area. Although large quantity of milk is produced in the area the access to market was very limited. Milk being a perishable product producers are forced to sell milk at a throw away rate to the local agents or to sweet merchants. As a result the dairy sector is underperforming and the livelihood of communities is poor despite of the existing opportunity. To overcome this issue, National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was approached to start its milk collection centre in the area. The process was eased by the fact that NDDB all ready planning to rollout its operation in Kachchha district. .
VIKSAT thus supported NDDB with necessary data and preparatory process for the feasibility study and intensively involved in community consultations regarding initiation of a large scale milk collection centre in the area. After long and strategic considerations NDDB decided to establish a milk collection centre at Bhirandiyara village. This was a remarkable achievement for the community members which secured livelihood for thousands of milk producers in the area. At present about 10,000 litres of milk is collected in the centre from 8 to 10 surrounding villages. This has ensured higher returns for the producers which is Rs. 22/- to 28/- per litre of instead of Rs. 10/- to 15/- a litre as earlier.
However, the capacity of the milk collection centre has only covered 50% of the total milk that is being produced in the area. Although many milk producers are eager to part of this network it could not be done due to lack of capacity. Therefore, efforts are going on to convince NDDB to increase either the current capacity of the centre or to establish another centre in a nearby village.
To meet the annual requirement of the fodder for better livestock in Banni area, fodder plot development was undertaken with participatory approach. During the year 2009-10, 100 hc of fodder plot was developed at Bhojardo village. Further to this, another 2 fodder plots are under progress in Motidhadhar (50 ha) and Dedhiya (115 ha) villages and waiting for approval of the district Planning & Approval Committee.
Animal health care Intervention
Animal health services were inaccessible to the project villages which lead to high animal mortality, large numbers of animals being weak and unproductive. As a support service VIKSAT has taken up a drive to organize animal health care camps at regular intervals viz. Vaccination, De-worming, General Cattle camps, and Infertility camp.
Also trainings on care and management of livestock was provided to the farmers for better rearing practices and increased productivity. In cattle camps, cows were treated with Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine and De-worming treatment was given to different types of domestic animals which includes cow, heifer, buffalo, bullock, camel, goat and sheep. A large number of cases of infertility in cows were treated in the camps also. Doctors from District Animal Husbandry Department, Bhuj helped in organising the camps.
Further, VIKSAT selected a few youths were from the surrounding villages and trained them as para-veterinary workers. In short span of time, animal treatment centres would be opened in villages and would be run by these para-veterinary workers. This would enhance accessibility of the animal owners to primary animal health services at a lower cost and within the reach of the community.
Formation of People’s Institutions [PIs]
People’s Institutions being a strategic approach of VIKSAT for project execution, the Banni Pashu Ucherak Maldhari Sangathan was formed and registered under the trust act, keeping the sustainable impact and transition policy of the organisation in mind. Currently efforts are being made to build the capacities of the sangathan to take up the ownership of the project and mobilize self-initiated actions which are also beyond the scope of the project. Members are encouraged to meet regularly, discuss and plan out the activities which are being implemented under this project for effective outputs. Regular trainings and consultations with the members is also being carried out. The sangathan is being guided in such a way that it would be capable of handle this program independently after completion of the project.
A project was initiated by VIKSAT titled “Enhancing Livelihood Options of Small and Marginal Farmers through Development and Management of Ravine Lands” with assistance from Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Small Grants Program (SGP) in 2009. The objective of this initiative is to check the further spread of ravine which will prevent damage to the valuable tablelands and to work towards the stabilization of highly degraded and ravenous lands. The project encompassed the villages of Kubda, Vansda and Nana Kothasana of Satlasana Block in Mehsana district which included a total 67 hc of degraded land, associated village communities and local institutions. Intervention during the project period was primarily aimed at working towards restoration and stabilization of ravines through appropriate soil and water conservation (SMC) measures and improved vegetative cover.
Another key feature of the program is to strengthen tenure arrangements and village institutions in the nature of TGCS with the intention of improving the governance of natural resources and ensuring the stabilization of the ravine lands.
The major focus areas of the project are,
• Institution & Capacity Building
• SMC & other Interventions
The following activities undertaken in this project:
The baseline survey has been completed in all the project villages. PRA method was used to analysis and collection of data.
Meetings and Trainings
As a part of building the capacities of the community and to increase their stake in the project, regular meetings and awareness camps are being conducted in the villages. Focus is being laid particularly on building their skills on project planning and evaluation. In the reporting period around 6 trainings on various issues have been conducted.
As a part of the nursery raising training initiative, 5 farmers were trained on various issues like - selection of location for nursery, land preparation, preparation of nursery bed, selection of saplings, seed treatment, guidance for filling up the bag, method of transferring the sapling, method of sprinkling water, shadow arrangement, maintaining plantation register and fund arrangement, etc. After the training, 3 beneficiaries were selected for developing the nursery. These farmers were provided with 15000 saplings @ 5000 each of Azadirachta indica (Neem), Bambusa arundinacea (Bamboo), Dalbergia sisoo (Sisoo), Acacia chundra (Khair), Adhatoda Vasica (Ardusi), Tectona grandis (Savan), Babool species for developing their own nurseries.
National Agriculture Innovation Project
The objective of NAIP is to facilitate an accelerated and sustainable transformation of the Indian agriculture so that it can support poverty alleviation and income generation. The approach was through collaborative development and application of agricultural innovations by the public organizations in the partnership with the farmers group, the private sector and other stakeholders. The duration of the project is from April 2008 to June 2012.
Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) sanctioned two projects under two schemes namely a) Integrated Project for Research on Development Process and Sustainability of Livelihood in selected disadvantage district of Gujarat State b) Business value chain in seed spice under the National Agriculture Innovation Program component II & III. Both the projects are currently implemented in collaboration of VIKSAT and Sardarkrushinagar Dantiwada Agriculture University (SDAU), Banaskantha.
NAIP Component – II - A value chain in major seed spices for Domestic and Export Promotion.
The objective of the component II is to create a Production to Consumption System (PCS) (“a value chain” system in popular parlance) which involves the entire set of actors, materials, activities, technologies, services, and institutions involved from the stage of supply of inputs to harvesting of a particular commodity, transforming it into a usable product, storing and marketing the final product. It also aims at maintaining quality and confirmation to the standards with respect to American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), Environmental Services Association (ESA), and International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
VIKSAT in collaboration with SDAU has undertaken activities like seed multiplication and distribution for large scale cultivation, extension activities such as farmer’s workshop, trainings, demonstrations on farmer’s field and formation of SHG’s. The project villages are Gonchad village from Patan district for cumin crop and Piludra village from Mehsana district for fennel crop.
NAIP Component – III - Integrated Project for Research on Development Process and Sustainability of Livelihood in Selected Disadvantage Districts of Gujarat State.
The objective of the Component – III is to improve livelihood security of rural people living in the selected disadvantaged regions through technology led innovation systems, encompassing the wider process of social and economic change covering all stakeholders.
VIKSAT in collaboration with SDAU is undertaking activities like farming, propagation of vermi compost technology, MIS (drip irrigation), micro sprinkler, and improvement of water harvesting and conservation structure. The project covers 3 villages namely Sanali, Hathi Pagla & Chota Bamodra of Danta block of Banaskantha district. Glimpses of the activities are as follows:
Seed village concept:
The crop productivity was very low in the earlier times as the farmers in general using the local seed variety for sowing. In 2008-09 hybrid seed variety were distributed in the project villages and as a result farmers got good quality seed which increased the production up to 35%. This year the seed village concept was introduced by providing the improved seeds of suitable crop (area main crop) to the farmers of the project village. While maize was the only crop earlier under the crop diversification activity of NAIP, farmers have introduced three others crops like groundnut, chilli & castor.
To promote agriculture diversification and additional income generation, vegetable farming is being introduced in the villages. Under this, information related to vegetable crops and its suitability in the low water condition was given to the farmers. Variety of seeds was distributed in project villages which include brinjal, okra, chilli, guwar, bottle guard and tomatoes.
Promotion of Low cost green house
Farmers were selected for the demonstration of MIS unit and low cost green house for vegetable farming during off season cultivation. There were 15 farmers who took the training at Navasari Agriculture University, Navasari for the construction of low-cost green house. Out of 15 farmers, 13 carried on the intervention of making low-cost green house with the support of NAIP Project in their own field. The farmers are using these green houses for the cultivation of seedlings, for floriculture & also for the others vegetables.
Promotion of Micro Irrigation Schemes
Demonstration of water conservation technology was promoted in the project area to improve the productivity of irrigated land from the present low levels. This also aims to improve efficiencies of water, energy and nutrient use along with human effort in agriculture. The reason behind this effort was to conserve scarce resources such as water and electricity and to extend the benefits of irrigated agriculture to more farmers with the available water and to facilitate better crop management through Fertigation and Chemigation. Looking at this scenario a total of 18 MIS were installed in the project field areas.
As a part of promoting off-farm activities back yard poultry farming and goat rearing is being supported by the project. Under the same, distribution of chicks was done to the beneficiaries selected on basis of people coming under below poverty line (B.P.L.). The program has been a huge success with the beneficiaries of the poultry units earning an additional income of 30-40 Rupees on a daily basis.
Promotion of Horticultural Crops:
32 Farmers of the Hathipagla, Chhota Bamodara, and Sanali village developed the horticulture plots in their field through plantation of 461 sapling of Mango & 83 saplings of Sapota which was provided by the project.
Formation of SHGs and Farmer’s Club:
For the sustainability of the project, community based organizations were formed like farmer’s clubs & SHGs. In total 10 SHGs covering 167 members and 10 farmers’ clubs covering 195 members were formed in the Sanali Cluster (Sanali, Hathi Pagla, Chota Bamodra) of Danta block in Banaskantha district. The SHGs are also taken up savings and credit activities and till date their saving has been around INR 65,116/-.
Awareness and Capacity Building:
Various trainings and exposure visits were organized for the awareness and capacity building of the SHG & farmer Club members on issues like record keeping, MIS, health, agriculture, etc. In all 828 beneficiaries of the project village was benefited with the various training programmes. Details of the trainings are given below.
In addition, exposure visits were organized for the farmers and SHG members of the project area with an objective to increase their awareness through exposure to improved technology. The details are given herewith.
Soil and Moisture Conservation Activities:
Under the soil and moisture conservation activity in the project trenches, construction of earthen bunds & bori bunds were made in Nana Kothasana & Vasada villages of Satlasana block. The objective of the activity is to prevent soil erosion, expansion of gully, and stabilization of ravines. Around 2670 nos. of trenches were build on the sloppy land covering 32 hectare area in the 3 villages. The total quantum of the work ran into 7541 cu.mt. In addition, 43 bori bandhs (a low cost water harvesting structure) has been promoted in the villages. The activity of the earthen bund was also carried on the revenue waste land of the Kubda village wherein 19 earthen bunds were constructed during the last three months.
Plantation activity was also carried out in the Nana Kothasana, Vasada & Kubada villages of Satlasana Block in Mehsana district under the SMC activities. The aim is to reduce the soil erosion, recharge ground water and get sufficient fodder, fuel wood and small timbers for community.
Project for Income Augmentation in Semi-arid Area
VIKSAT has taken up a new project for Patan field area called “Project for Income Augmentation in Semi-arid Area” (PIASA). This is an ambitious project in terms of its demonstration effect and approach designed to address livelihood resilience in the villages of Santalpur and Sami block of Patan district located in the fringe of little rann of Kachchh. The financial assistance of the project is extended by District Panchayat of Patan district.
The project activities include salinity toleratant horticulture crops, demonstration of improved practice of agriculture, kitchen gardens at schools and anganvadis and imparting training on animal husbandry practices. The execution of the project is under progress which includes formation of the farmer’s clubs, selection and identification of demonstration plots, selection of farmers and coordination with gram Panchayats, Village Education Committees (VEC) and anganwadis. The hardware activities viz. demonstration farming and horticulture would be started from the start of Khariff season.
Project execution approach
The approach of the project was through complete community ownership and risk sharing. Farmer’s clubs would be the institution at the village level through which all the project activities would be carried out. The farmer’s club has played important role in identification of beneficiaries, ensure beneficiary contribution, monitoring and sharing of observations and learning, suggest corrective actions and adapting the results.
The gram Panchayats, VEC and anganwadi workers will be key stakeholders in regard to demonstration of kitchen garden activities in achieving the nutritional requirements of children. The vegetables grown in the kitchen garden would be used in Mid-Day-Meal in the primary schools and anganwadis.
The key demonstration effect of the project would be realized in the following components –
Salinity tolerant horticulture
Horticulture is not a usual practice in the project area due adverse climatic condition. Rainfall is very scanty, temperature in summer is very high and lands are affected by salinity. The normal horticulture plants are unable to survive in such climatic conditions. However as the research result shows in and out of state in regard to success of horticulture of plant species that can survive in similar climatic conditions and have good economic value, demonstration of similar horticulture species like dry dates, pomegranate and custard apple will be initiated.
Drip Irrigation system
Drip irrigation system proved to be very effective for farming activities with very less amount of water in comparison to all other alternatives. Drip irrigation system helps in consistent growth, plant health and timely maturity of crops and along with increasing effective utilisation of applied fertilizer. Despite of increased government support for such kind of initiatives the area is still not covered significantly. The project would demonstrate functional demonstration of drip irrigation and spread the results to farmers of twenty villages through farmer’s club.
Improved agriculture practice
Cumin is the major crop and forms the back bone of the agriculture economy in the project area. However many farmers are currently practicing traditional methodology of farming and also use local variety of seeds. Earlier experience of VIKSAT shows that use of treated seeds and minor alteration in farming practice viz. land alkalinity treatment, timing of showing, controlling irrigation frequency and weeding practice has increased yield up to 40% with minimal increase in input cost. The project would demonstrate improved agriculture practice in more than 180 ha. across twenty villages in the project area.
WATSAN Programme for salt pan workers
The salt pan workers commonly known as Agariya in Gujarat lives in one of the harshest condition for their livelihood. They live in the salt manufacturing area in the Little Rann of Kachchh. In general the members of the community are illiterate and virtually live in isolation for almost 6 to 8 months. They manufacture salt during the summer months and this constitutes their principal source of livelihood as majority of them are landless too. During their stay at salt pans, sanitation and drinking water are two major causes of concern for them as the area was virtually cut-off from mainland. Therefore, it is essential to empower the community to take up the challenges of a demand-driven, community-managed water supply and sanitation Program.
In this regard water and sanitation programme for Agariya community has been initiated in Santalpur block of Patan district with support from WASMO. The program envisages, providing sufficient water storage facility within the reach of community and sanitation facility to bring awareness and avoid open defecation. The project includes three components, namely (i) providing water tank (PVC) for drinking water; (ii) individual sanitation unit in the desert area; and (iii) Information, Education Communication (IEC) activities for capacity building and awareness of the community for promoting hygiene, and environmental sanitation services.
VIKSAT initiated the project with a drive to generate demand and build partnership with the community members in the project areas, mainly through awareness campaigns and transfer of knowledge. VIKSAT has taken steps for the project implementation including community mobilization, capacity building and preparation of a list for constructing sanitation units through survey, individual contacts, meetings and Gram Sabhas.
Since drinking water is one of their major concern and which reflected during the meetings also, it was decided that water storage structures and facilities needs to be put up to avoid breakdown of the supply due to any unavoidable reason. Temporary low cost sanitation units have also been suggested, as the area i.e. Little Rann of Kachchh is plain area with almost no vegetation.
The Community Mobilization Unit (CMU) has been formed, which was responsible for IEC activities which aim to interacting intensively with the community members while developing the participatory planning and implementation strategy. The CMU worked as a gateway between VIKSAT and Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch which ensures smooth implementation of community-managed water and sanitation programme. In total 1000 households were covered under the project.
Solar light distribution to Children of Agariya Community:
As the community lives for substantial time of the year in the little rann of Kachchh which has no provision of electricity supply, it was difficult for the children to study during night hours. This situation enables VIKSAT to think and to make persistently efforts to provide solar lanterns to the children of saltpan workers through corporate sponsorships; in the last year 25 solar lanterns were provided from the support Cosmos Ignite Innovation. In continuation in the current year corporate support was availed from Hotel and Restaurant Association, Western India on the occasion of their Diamond Jubilee celebration and 45 solar lanterns were distributed to the school going children of the community. These lanterns benefited the children of primary & secondary school i.e. from std 3 to 10.
A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets, and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base.
A sustainable livelihoods approach is a holistic method of addressing development issues that centres the discussion on people's livelihoods. Sustainable livelihoods is a chameleon-like concept that can serve many functions: it is at once an established development objective, an analytical tool used to understand the factors influencing a community's ability to enhance their livelihoods, and a method of eradicating poverty
Underlying the sustainable livelihoods approach is the theory that people draw on a range of capital assets or poverty reducing factors to further their livelihood objectives. Assets are categorized as social, human, natural, physical, financial, and political, and may serve as both inputs and outcomes. Various vulnerability factors over which people have little or no control (such as environmental disasters and political unrest) impact the assets. Assets are also filtered through policies, institutions, and processes that determine the degree to which the people's livelihood objectives are realized. The model that VIKSAT adopted for sustaining livelihood base of the stakeholder was through livelihood financing. As an organisation we understand that it is important to make people partner in growth and that is only possible when they contribute equally not depend on the grants alone.
VIKSAT has taken up a new project under livelihood domain titled “Promoting Sustainable Natural Resource Management through People’s Institutions” under larger “Umbrella Programme for Natural Resource Management” (UPNRM) being executed by NABARD. The programme aims to develop alternative financing solutions and to institutionalize community-based public private partnership (PPP) approaches for the natural resource sector for sustainable livelihood generation. UPNRM is an approach to support financially viable models for productive resource management and also to facilitate private sector involvement in a partnership mode for the implementation of public investment Programs for rural areas.
Promoting Sustainable NRM through People’s Institutions
The programme aims to develop alternative financing solutions and to institutionalize community-based public private partnership (PPP) approaches for the natural resource sector. UPNRM is an approach to support financially viable models for productive resource management and also to facilitate private sector involvement in a partnership mode for the implementation of public investment programmes for rural areas.
The initiative aims to extend tangible economic benefits of natural resource management through entrepreneurial utilization of the resources and thereby fostering poverty alleviation and growth of rural economy.
The broad objectives of the project are:
• To enable village level institutions to cater to the short-term and medium term credit needs of activities relating to natural resource management sector undertaken by rural poor, in general and SC/STs in particular.
• To facilitate higher income and increased economic benefits for participating rural households from management of activities relating to natural resources.
The project has two major components; community capacity building to manage NRM based livelihood sources and to provide finance for income generation activities to be taken up by communities. The project is being implemented through SHGs as a strategic partner as well as viable financial institution at village level. All financial services under the project would be routed through the SHGs and they have a crucial role to play in managing the services under the project. The financial service covers loan for NRM based livelihood sources, life and asset insurance for borrowers.
Management Information System
A MIS programme has been developed which is to be operated at two stages, both at field and head office level. Formats are developed for collection of data at the SHG level and at borrower level which would be fed into computers at field offices. The MIS provides a robust platform for quick service delivery and effective management.
One project launching cum orientation consultation was organized for all the VIKSAT staff to share different aspects of the project and to clear the role and responsibilities at different levels including administration and account department. Another participatory training was organized for technical understanding on project components and operating system. Apart from this staff members are also oriented on key technical matters that include legal modalities, MIS, project management system, accounting procedures, trainings to be imparted at field level, documentation of the outcomes and execution strategy.
Project orientation meetings with SHGs
A series of project orientation meetings were organized with SHGs in the project area. In these meetings SHGs were provided with detail information on the categorisation of the loans, insurance, eligibility criteria, legal and financial requirements, project operating system and different kind of skill enhancement programmes to be undertaken as integral part of the project.
Sustainable Nutrition Education Health and Livelihood (SNEHAL) Programme
VIKSAT partnered with CARE, Gujarat as an implementation support agency for SNEHAL programme with the aim to strengthen the livelihood options for the rural poor in the Santalpur block. In the ambit of the larger initiative, VIKSAT worked towards strengthening community level institutions in six villages namely Varnosari, Patanka, Daldi, Bavarada, Bamroli, Manpura and Charanka of Santalpur block in Patan district. The project period was from 2006 to 2009.
However owing to internal adjustments and restructuring, resource support for the project could not be continued for the entire period as committed. However, VIKSAT continued the initiatives to a logical conclusion and has taken up many activities that were started under the project and especially the activities with SHGs and farmers.
Under SNEHAL program a total of 22 SHGs have been formed and strengthened. The SHGs cohesively working towards encourage the women community to do the savings and credit activities, so as to make them self-dependent, improve their current livelihood and strengthen themselves socially. The other distinct outcomes are easy access to financial resources, grading, linkage with resource agencies and leadership quality.
A remarkable shift in demand and use of intra loan has been experienced with progress of time among the SHG members. The major loan demands this year includes mainly purchasing of seeds and fertilizers for agriculture, medicines, purchasing food grain, carrying out income generation activities in smaller scale, educational expenses for children and acquiring household assets; while loan sanctioned for social and cultural ceremonies has reduced to a large extent.
Revolving Fund Management
Revolving fund from Sir Dorrabji Tata Trust (SDTT), Mumbai
In the year 2004-05 VIKSAT facilitated a revolving fund from SDTT, Mumbai for the PIs and block level federations of Satlasana and Bhiloda block. This fund was aimed at meeting various financial needs of the institutions and also to initiate various developmental activities beyond a project framework. For better and effective management of the fund, a Revolving Fund Management Committee (RFMC) was formed. The meeting of the committee held every quarter which looks after the request made, feasibility and viability of the initiative proposed. Till date, the cumulative loan of Rs. 30.82 Lakh has been disbursed among four federations of Bhiloda and Satlasana blocks.
Revolving Fund – VIKSAT
Apart from intra loans, VIKSAT also runs a Revolving Loan fund for the SHGs. However, use of the fund is decided with participatory way with regular meetings between VIKSAT and SHGs. In this year, many regular meetings were carried out and crucial points of actions were discussed for strengthening the SHGs. Below is the table that indicates the performance of the revolving fund.
Revolving Fund from M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)
With support from MSSRF, Chennai a grant under revolving fund of Rs.10 lakhs was given to the SHGs of Kachchh district. The members of these SHGs have undertaken micro enterprises like manufacturing washing powder, embroidery & stitching, bandhani work, weaving, pottery work, animal rearing, sale of vegetables, spices, cloths etc. For these enterprises loans are granted top the members with no interest since 2003. Till now, 29 SHGs in 14 villages have been benefited and from Rs. 10 lakh this has increased to Rs.21.19 Lakhs and is currently in operation too. Up to the last financial year, out of the total amount Rs.16 lakhs have been refunded by the members. The activities undertaken and the profits generated have made these women self-reliant, and also enabled them to return the loan in time.