This project, based in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) in Eastern India, aims to increase food security and reduce vulnerability of 4000 small, marginal and landless cotton farming families in four clusters of villages in the target districts.
The four clusters are Bhawanipatna, Golamunda and Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district and Muniguda in Rayagada district. 27% of beneficiaries will be landless people who farm on leased, or encroached land and 95% will be tribal, or low cost, extremely marginalized groups facing high rates of poverty and poor health, education and nutrition. Atleast 50% of project participants will be women, who are further disadvantaged by onerous domestic and agricultural workloads.
In trying to overcome their poverty, farming families in the target areas are undertaking high risk, unsustainable cotton cultivation that is undermining their long-term livelihood security. These families experience illiteracy, high levels of debt, environmental degradation, food insecurity due to increased cotton cultivation at the expense of food crops and lack of access to appropriate and reliable inputs, technical assistance and remunerative markets.
The project aims to address this by promoting agricultural practices that will improve livelihoods and ensure sustainable use of natural resources. This will be achieved by farmers becoming organised into Self Help Groups (SHG), with the SHGs then joining cooperatives to improve access to services and markets. In addition, Local Resource People (LRP) will be trained to deliver training and technical assistance to beneficiaries on sustainable agriculture and crop diversification. Women’s enterprise groups will be supported to provide additional services such as the production of bio-inputs including organic composting and bio pesticides such as chili-garlic solution. The project will also increase women’s status through income generating activities, working together as a collective and increasing their ability to approach the relevant agencies to demand their rights.
Further support will be given to farming families who will be trained and supported to adopt more sustainable practices in relation to soil and water conservation reduced use of chemicals, greater use of bio-inputs and a progressive shift to organic and diversified farming systems.
It is anticipated that this will lead to target families’ average net income increasing between 30% to 50% through higher yields, lower production costs and diversified income sources.
The project is being funded by Big Lottery Fund U.K through Tradecraft Exchange.