The co-operative is supported by Saha Astitva for training and materials and access to niche markets. These Adivasi farmers typically have small plots of land from 1/2 acre to 4 acre plots. Many of them have been incentivized to return to farming by Saha Astitva to gain their livelihoods from the land. Many were not using their land before instead migrating to the cities in search of hard-to-find work. The land represents a real resource that means these men can get their livelihood from the land, or at least grow food for their own consumption. The rice crop alone is not sufficient to support them for the whole year, so extending the growing season into the winter would make a difference to many families.
Encouraging niche-market farming at a time when villagers are flooding to the city in search of scarce jobs, offers many promising benefits. Some very small initiatives could make a lot of difference to improve the availability of water to the farmers and make livelihoods from farming a real opportunity.
Several organizations want to partner with the co-operative, impressed so far with the results from the rice growing. These organizations require crops from the farmers outside of the monsoon. However the farmers are unable to supply them due to the shortage of water.
They have received training in organic farming techniques, with low input costs and access to niche markets, from their small plots of land they can make their livelihoods. The farmers dug wells which ran dry in a short while. Improved structure to these wells can make them into rain water harvesting catchments. As will improved nala bunding on forest streams allow for water to caught for use beyond the monsoon months.
We already have a market ready for the produce that these farmers can grow if they had access to water.
We have been working with customers in the natural dyes and organic food supply industries. The farmers will grow crops and produce for these customers based on local varieties, utilizing minimal water use.