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Title Issue
A One-Time Investment for a Life Time of Benefits Agro-Based Livelihoods
Giving wings to dreams SEDI
Towards a brighter future SEDI
All Smiles Water Resource Management
Banding together, fighting injustice Agro-Based Livelihoods
Doing things differently Agro-Based Livelihoods
Faith, Fortitude and a Water Channel Water Resource Management
Gangaben bani Great! Agro-Based Livelihoods
New directions Agro-Based Livelihoods
Mr. Parmar And His Vermiculture Expedition Agro-Based Livelihoods
People power Agro-Based Livelihoods
Unique experiment with saline soils Agro-Based Livelihoods
Wasteland to an Orchard Agro-Based Livelihoods
 
A One-Time Investment for a Life Time of Benefits

As the head of a large joint family, Kanabhai Barad was in-charge of overseeing the farming operations of the family. The family’s primary occupation was agriculture and alongside they also engaged in animal husbandry and owned eight cattle-heads.
 
For a large family that owned cattle, ACF realised that installing a bio-gas plant would be a worthwhile investment as an answer to their household fuel requirements and suggested this to Kanabhai. Unfortunately Kanabhai didn’t realise this. An alternate route was required. Informal talks with the women in the house were held. Misconceptions about bio-gas plants that the family harboured were dispersed. They were informed about the health benefits incurring from using this fuel and the production of compost that is a by-product of this fuel.

Once convinced, the women took charge of convincing Kanabhai. Unable to fight the common will of his family members, Kanabhai thought it best to give this new concept a try. Once the bio-gas plant was installed, the family realised the numerous benefits they were deriving from it. They saved on money that would otherwise have been dedicated to purchasing firewood and kerosene. The women are spared unnecessary respiratory illnesses and discomfort. On an average the family makes a saving of Rs. 500 a month. The money thus saved in being used to invest further in agriculture. Kanabhai’s family has today become a part of the campaign to use alternate, renewable sources of energy to protect the environment.
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Giving wings to dreams

The Nursing Assistance course at Kodinar has transformed the lives of numerous girls in and around the region. Most of the girls in Kodinar were school dropouts. Since finding employment was already difficult for the men, it was never even thought of for the women. Girls were only expected to learn household chores. However, the Nursing Assistance course introduced changed this forever.

It induced the idea that girls could make an important financial contribution to the household. Things were, however, not easy to begin with. Most parents could never envisage sending their girls to work. SEDI-Kodinar therefore embarked on a three-stage discussion. First, the team would visit the villages and disseminate information about the course. This was followed by individual discussions with interested girls, and lastly, an in-depth counselling session with the parents. One such participant was Manishaben Chudasama, who wanted to study after completing her school. Even though her father was a truck driver with a meagre income of Rs 5000/- per month, he was not keen that his daughter should work outside the home. It took some convincing for him to allow Manishaben to enrol for the six month Nursing Assistance course at SEDI.

Soon after completion of the course, Manishaben joined Meru Nursing Home in Bhavnagar district as a Nursing Assistant, drawing a monthly salary of Rs 6000/-. Manishaben was extremely happy, not only because she could now assist her family, but also because she enjoyed her work immensely. Soon after, the staff at Meru suggested that she do a Diploma in Naturopathy and Yoga which was available nearby. However, finance was an issue. Her employer recognised her talent and enthusiasm, and loaned her the fee. Manishaben is now pursuing her diploma. A small seed of hope through SEDI will bear fruit in Manishaben’s life for many years to come.

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Towards a brighter future

People take occupations according to the resources available in their vicinity. One such community in Surat (Gujarat) was dependent on fishing due to easy access to sea. However, the occupation started dying a slow death as the pollution levels increased in the sea leading to decreased fish. With decreased income and greater needs, people started looking out for other livelihood options.

Ramilaben* from Budiya, Surat faced the same dilemma. She was aware that many people from her neighborhood had begun liquor making as an alternate income. Gujarat being a dry state, liquor has high demand and fetched sufficient income for the people who were involved in the business. Left with no other option, Ramilaben also followed suit. However, this option wrecked havoc in Ramilaben's life. Since liquor was made at home, there was always the fear of children getting addicted. Many children in the community were already under the influence of alcohol. Secondly, there was a constant threat of raids from the police. More so, Ramilaben found the activity disrespectful too. There were many others also who wanted to leave this business. ACF addresses the issue of water, heath and agriculture in Surat. With livelihoods emerging as a dire need, ACF collaborated with ATDC (Apparel Design Training Centre) to train women in stitching garments as an alternate livelihood. For Ramilaben, this opportunity was godsend. The training provided women with skills in stitching and employment with garment manufacturing companies. Even though not as lucrative as liquor business, women here are now assured of social security and well being of their children.

*Name changed to protect identity

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All Smiles

Minaben Merubhai Chudasama lived in a small village called Kanjotar in Kodinar, Gujarat. Summertime in this little village would experience extreme scarcity of water. So, villagers would walk four or five kilometers, more than five times everyday to get water.

After all that effort, the water would cause health problems for the family because of being contaminated. To make matters worse, Minaben had to buy water during the droughts for Rs. 300. Life was getting very tough like this so she approached ACF when she heard about RRWHS. With financial and technical help from ACF, she decided to try out RRWHS with a capacity of 17,000 liters.

It turned out to work extremely well for her, as she doesn’t need to bother about water shortage or water borne health issues. Even a few days’ rainfall fills up her underground tank for the whole year! Now since Minaben doesn’t have to spend time fetching water, instead she sells vegetables and makes an extra profit.
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Banding together, fighting injustice

Shardaben from Abhalwad village was a troubled women. Expecting her fifth child, plagued with worries and unable to hold it all in and suffer silently, she opened her heart to the village Aarogya Swasthya Didi.

Unknown to many, Shardaben husband regularly physically abused and mentally tortured her. She worked hard to contribute to the family income but she was neglected and abused by her husband. Severely malnourished, anemic and weighing just 35 kgs, she saw no respite from the daily torture. She was depressed and often thought of committing suicide. Muktaben heard out Sharaden patiently and consoled her. She knew what Shardaben was suffering was unjust and encouraged her to fight against this injustice. With Shardaben’s support, she tool her problem to the SHG in the village and discussed it at that forum. The women were shocked to know of Shardaben’s state case and unanimously voted to help her.

The women is a group planned and visited Shardaben’s house to meet her husband Vajubhai Parmar. Vajubhai. A habitual drinker, Vajubhai paid no heed to what was going on and began abusing them. With a resolve to get this sorted, the women lodged an FIR in the Harmadiya Police station. Vajubhai was arrested and spent days in jail. Jolted out of his irresponsible behaviour, Vajubhai has undergone a radical change and the family’s life is back on track.

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Doing things differently

Bijalbhai Kanjibhai Thakur ridiculed the proposition of trying cultivating rice differently in his one bigha land. Systematic Rice Intensification seemed too large a risk for this marginal farmer. He was well aware that one wrong move could push him over the edge.

ACF understood his concern. Wanting to support him in making an effort to optimise his produce without forcing any decision on him, Bijalbhai was given the opportunity to visit other farmers in his neighbourhood who had adopted SRI and reaped its benefits. Talking to other farmers helped Bijalbhai get over his fears and he decided to give SRI a try.

The outcome of his new venture was exactly as expected. His yield increased by more than 20% resulting in an increase of income by Rs.5000 in the first cropping season. The profits were even higher as the cost of his inputs, including his spend on water, had decreased. This surplus sum of money meant a lot to him….. his children’s school fee for the whole year, repayment of the loan that he had taken from a private money lender in difficult times or his old mother’s cataract operation. He now impatiently awaits the next kharif season.

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Faith, Fortitude and a Water Channel

In Gujarat, three villages, Nanavada, Velan and Kaj, were plagued with water logging during the rains. With high salinity and drainage problems, the land had become highly infertile.

So ACF decided to interlink Panch Piplava Tidal Regulator (PPTR) and Sodam Bandhara by constructing a 4.5 km. long spreading channel. The monsoon after the construction farmers noticed the difference. One farmer, Laxmanbhai Bhagwanbhai Parmar is especially happy. The channel has been constructed close to his farm, and he is thrilled that there is enough water for his cattle, and he can now sow his crops immediately after the rains, unlike before when with either heavy or light rainfall he couldn’t cultivate his crops.

Now with the channel he can irrigate his farm whenever he wants, and his kharif crop yield too has made significant progress. From 850 kg. per hectare, his yield of groundnut has increased to 1,650 kg. per hectare. Parmar says that the farmers who were growing bajra before, have now started growing cotton, which fetches much better returns. He says, “There was no cultivation possible in rabi earlier, and now, we have started growing wheat as well as castor seed. Besides, our cattle have enough water to drink.”
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Gangaben bani Great!

In a village called Jithala of the Kodinar taluka in Gujarat, lived a lady, Gangaben, with her two sons and three daughters.

ACF gifted seed kits, to the SHG in that area for farmers. These seed kits were meant for growing vegetables for
self-consumption. On a 0.96 Ha farm Gangaben decided to grow ladies finger, beans and brinjal with her seed kit. She used only 100 sq. m. of her land, and the well on her own farm for irrigation.

With just that first harvest, Gangaben made a huge surplus! Not only did her first produce last her family four whole months, but she also had excess that she could sell in the market to make a profit of Rs. 2,590.

Now Gangaben continues selling her produce and makes good profits along with being able to sustain her family. With her as an example, four more female members of the SHG started using the seed kits that ACF made available for just
Rs. 150.

Today Gangaben has moved on to grow bitter gourd, and is very proud of herself being able to take care of her family’s need and also make good profits.

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New directions

Jagdish and his brother grew only wheat, paddy and castor in their 4.05 hectares of land at Sanand. Agriculture is the only source of livelihood for them. However, the income was not enough to suffice for all the family members. Even though educated, Jagdish was not aware of the agencies to approach for better farm practices.

With ACF’s intervention however, Jagdish saw a ray of hope. To begin with, soil and water testing was done to identify the requirement of land for a healthy crop. ACF also interacted with the community on a regular basis to understand their needs and requirements.

After detailed discussions and scientific testing, it was decided to introduce multi cropping as it is suited to the conditions of soil. ACF also organized exposure visits and capacity building for the farmers.

Jagdish found the new methods exciting and was eager to apply them in his own field. He tried the ‘abhinav’ tomato which is considered a better variety of tomato. The results were positive. He coupled this with better farm practices of using water judiciously and using organic fertilizers and better pest management systems. .

‘I collected all the information about the crop. I went and convinced my brothers about the new variety of tomatoes called ‘Abhinav’. So we sowed tomatoes in 1.5 hectare of land. ACF also supported for certified seeds on 50% subsidy base. We were also provided with necessary information on drip irrigation on regular basis by the Foundation’ says Jagdishbhai.

Jagdish now earns the income from tomatoes apart from the other crops he grows. He also feels that better farm practices has led to saving time and money which he invests in his family. A number of other farmers were also motivated to try these techniques in their own farms. Jagdish acts as a mentor for them.

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Mr. Parmar and his Vermiculture Expedition

33 year old Keshubhai Hanabhai Parmar revolutionized farming in his village Kadodam in Gujarat. An enterprising and adventurous man he decided to try vermiculture after he heard about its many benefits.

So, to begin he bought 1 kg. of earthworms from Visavadar. And although his neighbours weren’t convinced of the success of his new enterprise, they didn’t stop him from trying.

His first attempt at vermiculture unfortunately failed as all the earthworms died very soon. Parmar was a little disappointed but was determined to make it work, so he sought help from the ACF team.

This time, with a lot more insight on the subject, Keshubhai started with 2 kg. of earthworms for his vermi compost. And it worked!

In the past 2 years success has been coming Parmar’s way by the truckload. He has been able to produce 173 bags of compost weighing 50 kg. each. And with a total value of Rs. 35,000. Keshubhai has sold 120 kg. of earthworms at the rate of Rs. 200 per kg.

An expenditure of Rs. 15,646, and a total income of Rs. 59,000 has made Parmar a net profit of Rs. 43,354 on his vermi compost project. This kind of success has encouraged him to expand.

With his vermiculture project he was able to use some of it for his own farms and in that way save on buying chemical fertilizers. The vermi compost proved more effective and slowly the use of the chemical fertilizers reduced.

Now armed with a great produce and knowledge of better farming, he shares his experience and know how with the other farmers. And his story has encouraged other farmers to also explore vermiculture!
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People power

In village Balana ACF had undertaken several measures on common and private land for developing water resources and conserving soil. The cumulative effect of this was that the groundwater was recharged in plenty and this created a potential to use this water for irrigation purposes. Many farmers were keen on tapping into this underground reservoir of water but did not have the wherewithal to investment in well digging, pumping machineries, pipelines etc. There was no way that the marginal farmers could made this one time capital heavy investment.

Putting their heads together to crack the problem at hand, six farmers got together and concluded that to access the groundwater they would have to work together as a group- invest together and reap the benefits together. A common well was the answer to their woes. The common well would be a new well, equipped with all the machines required to pump out and transfer water and would be jointly managed and used by the farmers. The farmers readily contributed by offering land for digging the well and took on the task of digging the well on their own. The requisite materials and machinery was purchased . Noting the value in this group effort, ACF supported the venture in every way possible. Soon the well was functional and the farmers had what they had been waiting- easy access to all the water they wanted ! Their 26 acres of land could be easily irrigated by the well. For effectively management and optimal utilization of their common resource, the farmers have developed their a set of norms . With the water helping the marginal farmers irrigate their fields without a hitch, their yield from land escalated and more land could be brought under cultivation. At end of the rabi season they had brought in 39.6 acres of land under cultivation. They grew crops like cotton, pearl millet, cumin and groundnut and the profits they made were significantly better than other famers in their village- as compared to others, our group of farmers had made an additional income of Rs. 3 lakh. The six farmers are a sparkling example of the power of collective action and a source of inspiration for others in their village.

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Unique experiment with saline soils

Balana coastal village is inundated by saline osmosis. This force farmers to grow only single crops like chilly and cotton.

Under the Kharash Vistharothan Yojana, a programme aimed at salinity mitigation, ACF implemented several satellite programmes in the village. One of them was on integrated pest and disease control management, specifically for cumin cultivation. Cumin is a cash crop and gives better returns than traditional crops. Hence, training sessions on cumin farming were organised in the region.

Inspired by the guidance received from ACF, a group of 15 farmers began growing experimental cultivation of cumin on an area of 26.4 acres. They applied their knowledge on integrated disease control management gained in the training sessions. On its part, ACF provided the farmers with all required guidance and support. On-site assistance was also provided along with technical inputs, motivation and moral support.

The joint efforts of the enthusiastic farmers and the supportive ACF team bore fruit. Along with harvesting cumin, the farmers harvested handsome profits. They were able to save Rs.1000 each on disease control by using the integrated method. The training and field diagnosis offered by ACF is estimated to have saved them a further sum of around Rs. 30,000/=

Most importantly, farmers were delighted to see the quick results of judiciously selected and appropriate technology and are keen on repeating such experiments in the future.
 
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Wasteland to an Orchard

In a village called Shedhya, in Gujarat, lived a man with a mango orchard. Valabhai Savdashbhai Bhedas was that man. Five years back his orchard cultivation failed, and the village was almost becoming a wasteland. The only way he could keep his orchard alive was to manually water the 100 trees. He tried everything to water his orchard, and still only 5% of it could survive. Valabhai lost all hope of horticulture being successful.

Then he met the ACF agriculture team, who suggested he try drip irrigation on his plot, and with some encouragement he decided to give it a shot. The ACF team gave him a subsidy of 25% on the cost of the drip system and installation. So with a water tank with a capacity of 15,000 liters, Valabhai planted 140 mango saplings under the drip irrigation.

That was five years ago. Today Valabhai’s farm is a lush green mango orchard. Drip irrigation increased the survival rate of the trees to as much as 95% and his expenditure came down by 75%! An extremely happy man, Valabhai is keen on cultivating vegetable crops under drip irrigation, and wants to motivate other farmers to also install the system. Shedhya village is inspired by Valabhai, a man who survived a disaster and came out smiling and victorious.
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Skills for Life

Mansing Babubhai Vala is the eldest son in his family. 23 year old and a 12th standard pass out from Kodinar, Mansing now had to share the responsibility of supporting his eight member family. At this juncture, his father was working as a farm labour and the annual family income was not more than Rs.50, 000. Mansing had to choose a field which was of his interest and which would pay enough to support his family.

It was under these circumstances that Mansing came across a community meeting organized by SEDI representatives. Mansing explained his situation to SEDI facilitators. After a lengthy discussion with his father and Mansing himself, it was decided that Mansing should take up the four months Industrial Electrical trade at SEDI. The course was of his interest, and by putting in effort, he could make a successful career in it too.

After joining, things proved to be a little tough in the beginning. But as they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. With his hard work and determination, Mansing gradually increased his ranking from “C” to an “A” ranking. For Mansing, SEDI was the medium through which he would move his family out of poverty and establish his identity. Soon after completion of the course, he got his first job with Raj Enterprises with a salary of Rs.6000/- per month. Mansing’s happiness knew no bounds when soon after he switched to Rudraksha Enterprises Pipavav Shipyard at a salary of Rs.12, 000. Mansing got his younger brother a job in the same Company who had competed his training in ITI. Mansing encouraged his wife Anita to join the Nursing Assistant course at SEDI. Anita from working in the farm and taking care of her house, transformed into a confident nurse. Soon after the course she started working with Mehru Nursing Home. Mansing’s brother- in- law followed course and joined the Industrial Electrical trade at SEDI.

Joining SEDI at Kodinar was a life turning event for Mansing and his family. From a mere Rs.50, 000/- annual salary they now earned Rs. 2, 50,000/-. Within a span of a year, a complete family dependent on agricultural labour, is now self sufficient and happy.
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Stitching for a better future

People take occupations according to the resources available in their vicinity. One such community in Surat (Gujarat) was dependant on fishing due to easy access to sea. However, the occupation started dying a slow death as the pollution levels increased in the sea leading to decreased fish. With decreased income and greater needs, people started looking out for other livelihood options.

Ramilaben from Budiya, Surat faced the same dilemma. She was aware that many people from her neighborhood had begun liquor making as an alternate income. Gujarat being a dry state, liquor has high demand and fetched sufficient income for the people who were involved in the business. Left with no other option, Ramilaben also followed suit. However, this option wrecked havoc in Ramilaben's life. Since liquor was made at home, there was always the fear of children getting addicted. Many children in the community were already under the influence of alcohol. Secondly, there was a constant threat of raids from the police. More so, Ramilaben found the activity disrespectful too. There were many others also who wanted to leave this business. ACF addresses the issue of water, heath and agriculture in Surat. With livelihoods emerging as a dire need, ACF collaborated with ATDC (Apparel Design Training Centre) to train women in stitching garments as an alternate livelihood. For Ramilaben, this opportunity was godsend. The training provided women with skills in stitching and employment with garment manufacturing companies. Even though not as lucrative as liquor business, women here are now assured of social security and well being of their children.

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