An initiative to provide sustainable livelihoods to Indian farmers

Nearly 58% of the Indian population are dependent on agriculture and farming for their livelihood. There are farmers who farm less than 2 hectares of land , and therefore cannot maintain adequate yield and quality of the crop.1 Around 80% of work in agriculture is carried out by women.2 Being a vulnerable group, a considerable percentage of such small scale farmers lie under poverty.

A vital input into crop production is the quality seed. Seed is one of the least expensive but most important factors influencing yields. Shortage of funds, lack of proper delivery channels and absence of proper seed storage facility are main setbacks keeping the small-scale farmers from timely access to good quality seeds. All these factors affect fulfilling the necessity of these families to survive.

Smallholder communities in Gujarat were also experiencing the same. And, as a solution, Jay Verai Maa Self Help Group, in collaboration with CARE India, under the IAIDVC project, established the Community Seed Bank intending to make agriculture practices more productive. The intervention gives timely local access to quality seeds of wide yielding varieties, storage facility and control over the pest infestation in storage spaces.

These women smallholders have a doorstep delivery facility and other operational incentives. Seeds taken from the bank can be repaid in the form of seed after harvesting for those with a shortage of funds.

In this manner, the seed bank has helped establish some equity among farmers in terms of a basic input of agriculture.

The IAIDVC (Improved Agriculture and Inclusive Dairy Value Chain Promotion) programme, focuses on the economic empowerment of women, smallholders and workers to achieve long-term development in 59 villages of the Jambusar block, Bharuch district in Gujarat. Community Seed Banks are set to improve the agricultural sector’s focus on seed production, storage, and delivery systems at the village level with these seed banks.

Mukesh Kumar Saini