India's organic revolution In northeastern India, nestled between Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and West Bengal, lies Sikkim. Sikkim is an Indian state that has been making news since 2016 when it became the world’s first fully organic state. Sikkim won the prestigious U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s Future Policy Gold Award, known as the “Oscar for best policies,” which honors achievements made towards ending world hunger. “An organic world is definitely achievable,” explained Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar at the awards. Could India’s Second Green Revolution be organic?

The First Green Revolution

Along with many other developing countries, India overhauled its agricultural systems in the 1960s and replaced them with a western industrial model that relied on expensive technology, GMOs and agri-chemicals. By narrowing the crop variety to mainly corn, wheat and rice, Asian countries doubled their grain yield and cut poverty in half. As time has passed, however, the Green Revolution proved to be problematic for many developing countries. Though it has spurred incredible grain production and increased income in rural communities, it has also polluted the environment, depleted the water table and created economic disparity.

Because genetically modified wheat and rice require more water than their organic counterparts, Indian farmers have been draining the groundwater supply, causing the water table to drop approximately three feet each year. Intensive farming has also exhausted the soil, depleting it of nitrogen, phosphorous and iron. Farmers now use three times the amount of fertilizer that they used to for the same crop yield. Many farmers find themselves in debt because they cannot keep up with the costs of new water pumps, patented seeds and fertilizer. This is why states like Sikkim are calling for an organic Second Green Revolution.

The Sikkim Revolution

Sikkim has reversed the industrial farming policies of the Green Revolution at a time when governments and philanthropists are calling for a Second Green Revolution. Chief Minister Kumars believes that countries should not “carry out any kind of development work and business at the cost of the environment.” Still, there has been much debate about what a Second Green Revolution should look like. Should countries increase reliance on genetically engineered crops and pesticides or move towards more sustainable but lower-yield organic practices?

The transition to organic farming in Sikkim has helped 66,000 families and increased rural development and sustainable tourism. A movement to invest in sustainable farming practices is growing around the world, leading institutions like the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to invest in organic farming. IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo has stated that reversing conventional farming practices can fight food insecurity while improving nutrition and alleviating poverty. Though organic farming systems produce 10 to 20 percent less than conventional systems, they regenerate the soil and create fewer environmental costs.

An Unconventional Compromise

With the world poised to reach a population of more than nine billion by 2050, there is debate as to whether organic agriculture can feed the whole world. Industrial technologies and pest-resistant strains of rice and wheat have undoubtedly helped feed a rising population and reduce global poverty over the last 50 years. A recent meta-analysis of 66 studies comparing conventional and organic agriculture found that a Second Green Revolution needs the best of both systems. Though organic farming greatly increases the productivity of soil, making it more resilient to climate change, genetically modified crops could also play an important role in certain areas since they are designed to endure droughts and saltwater intrusion from rising sea levels.

At the end of the day, conventional or organic, there is actually plenty of food to go around. Global agriculture produces 22 trillion calories every year. If food were distributed equally and not wasted, every person on the planet could consume 3,000 calories a day. Though this may never be the case, organic states like Sikkim are choosing to make their calories count, by making them pesticide free and environmentally friendly. Whether India’s Second Green Revolution will be organic is still unsure, but Sikkim is setting a powerful precedent, and other states and countries are following suit.

Kate McIntosh

Photo: Flickr

How Farm Africa is Helping in the Fight Against Poverty
Farm Africa is a nonprofit organization that is reducing poverty in Eastern Africa by helping farmers “grow more, sell more, and sell for more”. The organization focuses on three aspects: agriculture, environment and business.

Agriculture

Agriculture in Eastern Africa accounts for 70 percent of the population’s income. Farm Africa is enabling farmers to maximize the use of their land by sharing its expertise in growing the most appropriate crops for the region in regards to climate and soil composition, as well as the most profitable crops. They also help to provide the necessary tools in order to achieve a successful harvest year after year.

Environment

In an interview with Aid For Africa, Bridget Carle, a graduate student working in South Africa, said, “Agricultural researchers have found that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can affect crop production…But now we are learning that higher levels of CO2 are likely to reduce levels of essential nutrients like zinc, iron and Vitamin A, as well as the protein content of crops.” Farm Africa is aware of the changing environment and uses its knowledge to encourage African farmers to use sustainable farming practices. The organization also helps farmers develop holistic approaches to their farming, taking special care to not overuse resources.

In Ethiopia, Farm Africa is currently working with citizens to employ sustainable practices to preserve their forests and increase their economy. One such example is teaching community members to produce honey, weave baskets and make bamboo furniture in order to generate income rather than chopping down trees so they can sell timber.

Business

Forbes Africa wrote an article showing how investing in irrigation has seen positive outcomes for Ethiopia’s economy. This article includes a section about how Farm Africa, the Ethiopian Bureau of Agriculture and local extension officers have come together in a joint effort to “help women and young people adopt small-scale irrigation…[as]part of an initiative to increase their incomes and improve their nutrition.” This project came close to reaching 6,400 women and landless people.

There are three parts to Farm Africa’s approach to business; business development, finance and trade. The organization helps Africa’s rural entrepreneurs expand their businesses and give them the tools to be successful over the long term. Farm Africa encourages the growth of co-operatives so that farmers may sell their products in bulk.

Farm Africa has 170 employees across four countries in Eastern Africa: Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. The organization works on the ground with farmers, helping them develop sustainable farming practices and yield higher quality crops year after year. They are teaching community members to be environmentally conscious as they give them different business tools to help them grow their businesses and thrive in larger markets. By focusing on agriculture, the environment and business, Farm Africa is helping to reduce poverty in Eastern Africa.

– CJ Sternfels
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture in AfricaAfrica is expected to double its population by 2050, raising some alarms of the possibility of increasing already high poverty, unemployment and food insecurity rates. In response to these worrisome predictions, and capitalizing on Africa’s burgeoning industrial and technological industries, one company, Gambia’s Tropingo Foods, has established a business plan that sets out to tackle these issues and modernize agriculture in Africa

The Current State of Africa

Africa is no stranger to poverty. In fact, more than 40 percent of Africans still live below the poverty line. Part of the high rates of poverty can be explained by the unemployment rate since six of the top ten countries with the highest unemployment rates are in Africa. Poverty and unemployment have led to a huge problem with food insecurity. More than a quarter of sub-Saharan Africa’s population over the age of 15 suffer from food insecurity. Though farming accounts for 60 percent of jobs in Africa, production must increase dramatically to match population grown in the coming years.

While the continent has made and continues to make technological strides across a variety of markets, production processes for agriculture in Africa have remained, for the most part, as they have been for years. As African farmers face population growth, changes in climate that may reduce rainfall, which accounts for 90 percent of agricultural irrigation, and the high cost of essential fertilizer, they will need to adapt and utilize technology for their industry to sustain these changes.

Tropingo Foods and Agriculture in Africa

Despite a large amount of farming in Africa, the continent only accounts for two percent of the world’s agricultural exports. Aware of this gap, Mommar Mass Taal, a young Gambian entrepreneur, created Tropingo Foods in order to pragmatically and sustainably address these problems. With a background in economics and market development, Taal has created a business that makes use of modern technologies vital to success. In just a few years, Taal has turned Tropingo Foods into Gambia’s largest processor and exporter of groundnuts, producing dried mangoes in the offseason.

As his business grows, he acknowledges that he will need to increase the number of employees, with 120 of the current 140 employees being women, as well as increase partnerships with local farmers. While Taal has had success in the industry, he is pushing the Gambian government to fund vocational training to better prepare citizens for the workforce. In order to support the growing population, agriculture in Africa must increase by 60 percent over the next 15 years and the industry must begin to utilize modern technologies.

Looking Forward

As African agricultural companies such as Tropingo Foods grow, they will increase the demand for employment and local farm production. However, investment from both within Africa and abroad will be necessary for this growth to be beneficial and sustainable. The World Bank has detailed a plan calling for $16 billion to fund agriculture in Africa in the face of climate change. While there will undoubtedly be challenges as the agriculture industry in Africa adapts to internal and external changes, if companies such as Tropingo Foods continue to seek pragmatic solutions, Africa may find itself playing a vital role in the world food export market.

– Rob Lee
Photo: Flickr

Using ‘evil’ technology in the fight against povertyTechnology is neither inherently good or bad; it is, rather, humanity’s use of technology that can be considered as evil or virtuous. Certain modern tools have the reputation for being capable of carrying out despicable deeds and are, therefore, surrounded by controversy. Artificial intelligence and drones are two of the most widely commentated on and feared applications of modern science. Despite this prevailing negative perception, combatting poverty is happens to be one of the good uses of AI and drones.

Drones Revealing Inequalities

Drones, or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), are often used in violent attacks and warfare, but they, along with their human operators, are also doing wonderful things across the world. Photographer Jonny Miller used drones to capture cities and show the line dividing the rich and the poor.

He captured images of lush, green golf courses directly up against dirt roads and shack neighborhoods. You can see giant mansions with trees and acres of grass next door to brown areas with buildings squished into a small plot. Miller’s project “Unequal Scenes” is raising awareness about poverty and inequality, which would be impossible without drone photography.

Drones Mapping Land

Another way that drones are helping alleviate poverty is through land mapping. More than half the world’s population, usually women, cannot prove they own their land. This is especially problematic in Kosovo where most of the men and boys were murdered during the Balkan wars in the late 90s. The women who remained have worked tirelessly to rebuild their homes and their communities. One enormous roadblock is their inability to use their vast land resources to provide for themselves economically.

These women do not have any sort of documentation for their lands once owned by their husbands. One woman explained that she had applied for loans to build her business, but she was repeatedly turned down because she lacked “property documents to put down as a guarantee.” These communities do not have the means to hire the land surveyors necessary for official registration. Property owners with potentially good, profitable land are powerless without official documentation for their land.

However, drones are helping these women. The World Bank Group’s Global Land and Geospatial unit dispatch drones to map out land plots for a fraction of the cost of traditional land surveyors, giving the Kosovan women the ability to register their lands and ultimately invest in their own property.

AI for Safety and Health

Artificial intelligence (AI), also referred to as “machine learning,” is the “capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.” It’s often associated with movies about robots destroying humanity that are based on the real fear that one day these machines will become self-aware and grow tired of serving humanity. “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” warned Stephen Hawking in 2014. Despite this destructive potential of AI, in the real world, it is currently transforming agriculture and changing businesses in Africa.

One article argues that Africa is amid the “fourth industrial revolution … ushered in by the power of AI.” Many innovative African business leaders have embraced AI to improve productivity and efficiency. One example is the Moroccan company Casky that uses AI to perform analytics on data sent from devices on motorcycle helmets. This has been improving riding habits and providing more accurate insurance premiums, reducing costs and improving safety for riders.

One Algerian firm helps local doctors provide cancer detection and treatment for their patients. The AI creates models that can diagnose those who are unable to visit hospitals for formal examinations. This has the potential to save many lives of those who don’t have the means to get regular checkups and screenings.

AI Helping Businesses

Another instance showing the advantages of AI is the reduction of consumer costs from companies like Niotek in Egypt. This company used AI to improve service quality and reduce the likelihood of human error. AI is also reducing overall costs for farmers and helping to improve their yields in India where RFID tags are being used in dairy cows to provide important information about the cows’ diets and overall health. The information is then stored in a “cow cloud” where it is “AI-analyzed.” The farmers receive alerts about any potential issues or if a cow requires their attention. This can reduce costs and increase efficiency for the farmers.

These are just a few of the many examples of good uses of AI and drones.  They have been especially useful in the fight against poverty. Cases like these prove that technology cannot be inherently evil and that there are good uses of AI and drones. While some individuals may want to use modern equipment to destroy the world, there are plenty of people looking to use the same tools to improve the world.

Sarah Stanley

Photo: Flickr

Organic Farming and Poverty ReductionOrganic agriculture carries varying degrees of significance for people around the world. Consumers rely upon the health benefits that organic products provide, some producers depend on the higher prices organic products allow them to charge and producers and consumers alike depend upon the environmentally conscientious philosophy that organic lifestyles promote. For these reasons and more, organic farming and poverty reduction are intimately related.

Organic Farming Benefits and Deterrents

Organic agriculture is a method of production that forgoes the use of pesticides and chemicals in favor of practices that respect the health and purity of the land on which production occurs. Producing without fertilizers and pesticides, however, can be extremely difficult as crop growth is less predictable and plants are much more vulnerable to weather conditions and natural disaster. Thus, when considering the relationship between organic farming and poverty reduction, it is important to remember that organic farming communities do not necessarily always benefit from this form of production. It requires sacrifice and risk.

A major impediment to the ability of farmers to produce and sell organic products on the international market is the extremely high price of organic certification. First, farmers must pay an application fee, then they must pay an annual inspection fee and, finally, an annual certification fee. In Africa, the average cost for organic cocoa certification is $5,500. This is far too much for many small-scale organic farms to pay. They are thus left to sell their products locally.

Still, in countries around the world, people are heavily dependent upon the land for their income and sustenance. This means that any damage to the land severely impedes their ability to sustain an income and to feed themselves. The use of chemicals and pesticides can provide fatal long-term damage to land that could otherwise produce valuable resources. This means that organic farming, despite its difficulties, must be promoted in poverty-stricken areas. Consumers who are able should spend the extra dollar to buy organic products in order to support these farming communities.

How Organic Farming and Poverty Reduction Go Together

There are many important ways that organic farming and poverty reduction go hand in hand. In the long term, organic farmers are likely to earn higher incomes than conventional farmers due to lower costs of crop production and maintenance and the ability to charge higher premiums.

Organic farming also ameliorates food insecurity as organic farmers are able to grow a diversity of crops that help sustain one another. Farmers are able to live off their own production and if one crop fails in a given season, they can still depend on others both to sell and to feed their own families.

Organic farmers also face lower healthcare costs. The use of pesticides and chemicals is often the source of several kinds of medical problems, which can result in expensive medical bills for poor agricultural families. Organic farming is, overall, better for the farmer’s health.

There are parts of the world that recognize the important role of organic farming in poverty reduction. In Asia, it is predicted that organic food sales will rise 20 percent in the following five years. Additionally, organic agriculture around the world increased from $18 billion to $64 billion from 2000 to 2012.

Organic farming can play a crucial role in the reduction of global poverty. Many have already begun to recognize this and are taking action to spread organic practices. Still, it is very difficult for farmers to attain certification impeding the ability for organic farming to stand as a viable option for a great many. If these problems are addressed, the role of organic farming in poverty reduction can only continue to positively grow.

– Julia Bloechl

Community Gardening ProjectsA community garden is a single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people. On a rooftop of the United Nations headquarters in New York City, the United Nations began to promote food gardens by setting an example and creating a garden in the heart of the city.

In 2015, cooperation between interested members of U.N. delegations and community organizations officially opened the U.N. Food Gardens. These gardens do not only promote international cooperation among U.N. staff but also help promote United Nations sustainable community gardening projects around the world.

They use similar practices as their international developmental counterparts, such as turning food waste into sustainable fertile soil. They also serve as an outreach program. United Nations programs and international charity programs use a similar tactic. By showing a successful garden in one part of a city, town, or village, maybe the idea will be adopted by other communities and countries.

FAO Role in Community Gardening Projects

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is the biggest promoter and leader of the community gardening projects around the world. To promote and spread this idea the instructions of sustaining a successful community garden are accessible on the FAO website.

The instructions are separated into 12 parts. They cover everything from securing funding, motivating the community, planting the correct fruits and vegetable, instructions on how to properly care for them and selling the extra for profit. The most important step is step number 12 that covers the motivation of participants. For teachers, it is recommended that they suggest special days in a season so that the students can look forward to each season. This aims to create a sense of ownership over the garden by giving the children assignments like watering or weeding the garden. It will also give them the knowledge and tools to begin their own garden later in life.

The Example of Dangerendove

FAO community garden projects can be found all around the world. Not only do they help to provide food and income to communities but they have also been able to break down social barriers. In 2014, an article was written about one of the greatest successes of the FAO’s community garden projects. This story occurred in a small town named Dangarendove in Zimbabwe.

The FAO provided over 40,000 farmers, out of which 90 percent were women, on over 800 farms, with seeds and fertilizers. One of the women interviewed for the article describes that the biggest difficulty is not taking care of the garden but keeping up with the demand for their products. Traders come from villages all around to buy their products by the cratefuls. Approximately 200 cratefuls are produced each week earning the village around $3,000.

Due to the success, the men of the village have begun to take part in the gardening process, taking roles and responsibilities that were once delegated only to women. The success of this program demonstrates that providing food and economic security can do much more than just feed the people and provide money.

Latin America and Community Garden Projects

Many other communities are starting to realize the benefits of community garden projects. In Latin America, rapid urbanization of many Latin American countries in the late 20th and in the early 21st century has caused demand for fresh fruits and vegetables to decline. In Brazilian favelas, in large urban communities sometimes called shantytowns, that often lack access to clean water and sewage and have high crime-rates due to lack of employment, the formation of community gardens has begun.

In 2008, the Formiga Favela in Rio de Janeiro was pacified (a term used to refer to favelas that have been returned to government control) and the Formiga community garden projects have been initiated soon after. These projects have not only helped to provide food in this impoverished area but also to provide employment to the people that live in these communities.

Community garden projects are feeding and employing people, but they also improve social equality. However, their biggest impact is that they put power in the hands of individuals.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

Cocoa Supply Chain From 2018 to 2025, Mars Food Corporation has pledged $1 billion to establish ethical, sustainable supply chains. Mars, the parent company of M&M, Milky Way, Snickers, Uncle Ben’s and Combos, generates nearly $35 billion every year. With the money pledged, Mars hopes to improve its cocoa supply chain quality in various ways. Some of the issues being addressed are eliminating child labor, curbing worker exploitation, and promoting economic stability networks among their suppliers. One of the central aims of the sustainability pledge is to prioritize the wellbeing and interests of small farmers.

Issues in the Cocoa Supply Chain

Cocoa beans are the basis for some of Mars’ most popular treats. Farmers harvest and process more than 3 million tons of cocoa beans every year to keep up with the demand for chocolate products. Though chocolate sales in the United States generated $22 billion in 2017, the highest since 2012, cocoa prices did not increase accordingly. In fact, in the same year, cocoa commodity prices hit their lowest price in five years. This dramatic drop in price, more than 30 percent less than 2015, puts a stress on the supply chain greatly.

Individual farmers with modest landholdings produce the majority of cocoa worldwide. Most of these cocoa farmers have no other source of income and subsist on approximately $2 a day. While there are certifications for cocoa products such as Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance, which consumers can use to minimize the environmental impact of cocoa production, these certifications do not address the condition of farmers. The farmers’ lack of power in this supply chain leaves them vulnerable to poverty whenever cocoa prices fluctuate.

Fixing the Cocoa Supply Chain

According to John Ament, Mars’ global vice president of cocoa, the cocoa supply chain is broken. Mars Food Corporation’s sustainability pledge hopes to improve the cocoa supply chain and draw attention to the social and environmental issues tied to the cocoa industry. To protect the interests of small farmers, Mars plans to restructure its premium model which guarantees higher prices for responsibly sourced cocoa.

The above change will increase paid premiums and ensure that farmers receive a higher percentage of that premium. However, the company also hopes to provide 75,000 farmers and their families with support to augment crop productivity and diversify their income. Since cocoa has only two peak seasons annually, encouraging the development of other skills will empower farmers and help them achieve financial stability.

In addition to these measures, Mars’ sustainability pledge strives to curb deforestation, through enhanced certification standards. As of now, half of Mars’ cocoa carries a Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certification. Though Mars had previously stated an intention to purchase exclusively certified cocoa by 2020, the company wants to take this even further by introducing special criteria for Mars products. These criteria will go beyond the requirements of standard certifications and strive for full traceability, verified by a third party, to ensure its cocoa does not come from protected forests.

Plans for the Future

The CEO of Mars Food Corporation, Grant F. Reid, hopes that their sustainability pledge will encourage other companies to invest in similar goals. He said, “the engine of global business—its supply chain—is broken, and requires transformation, cross-industry collaboration to fix it.” As a food company, with an inherent interest in agriculture, Mars is approaching the pledge from a business and societal standpoint. This pledge will hopefully create a trend among large corporations of fusing business and social interests.

– Morgan Harden
Photo: Pixabay

 Growth in Ethiopia’s Wheat ProductionEthiopia is an Eastern African country with a population of over 102.4 million people. Since 2000, Ethiopia has undergone a consistent period of growth with an overall rise in income and a significant reduction of poverty. Improvements continue in disease reduction and economic growth.

Ethiopian Agriculture and Poverty Levels

The country itself has one of the lowest income-inequality levels in the world. However, despite the positive development of the nation, Ethiopia is estimated that almost 23 percent of Ethiopians still live at or below the poverty line.

Agriculture is the largest sector within Ethiopia’s economy, making up over 35 percent of the GDP. The vast majority of the agricultural industry in Ethiopia consists of smallholder subsistence farmers.

These peoples’ income depends on the climate of the region and the health of the land. In the past decade, climate shocks such as droughts have become an increasing occurrence in Ethiopia, endangering the livelihood of these farmers and others who depend on their product.

Wheat in Ethiopia

Despite being among the top producers in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia’s wheat production fails to keep pace with other producing countries. For many years Ethiopian wheat yields have remained lower than those of other countries, falling to more than 30 percent below the world average in 2012.

Wheat imports account for 40 percent of wheat consumption in Ethiopia, and this amount is still insufficient even in conjunction with the quantity of wheat produced within the country on farms. In fact, demand for wheat has increased as Ethiopia experiences population growth and a rise in wheat-based food preferences.

Malnutrition and food insecurity is a serious problem in Ethiopia. Nearly 40 percent of children under the age of five suffer from stunting, and 24 percent of children are underweight.

In 2017, it was reported that over eight million Ethiopians face unreliable access to the necessary quantity of food and nutrients. Wheat is an essential part of the Ethiopian diet and is considered to be the third most important staple food crop.

The Wheat Initiative

In 2013, the Ethiopian Agricultural ministry and the Agricultural Transformation Agency implemented a new program known as the Wheat Initiative to help improve the productivity of wheat production for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia.

The program introduced new techniques and recommendations for growing wheat that are already utilized globally to approximately 400,000 farms. The goal of this project was to improve productivity for all farmers by spreading techniques and ideas to improve Ethiopia’s wheat production.

The Wheat Initiative provided a package approach to implementing the program. Farms would receive information on techniques, supplies and even marketing plans that could help with the production and sale of wheat.

These suggestions from the Wheat Initiative included the use of the row planting method, a reduction of seeding, and instructions on the use of fertilizer. Many of these farms also received a day of training and vouchers for supplies. An important aspect of the program was the enhancement of the availability of improved seeds and fertilizer, provided by the vouchers.

A study of the experimental Wheat Initiative program completed by the International Food Policy Research Institute in 2016 revealed that the farmers who received the entirety of the program instruction — with a one-day training session and vouchers — increased their wheat yields by 14 percent.

This increase occurred despite a margin of farms in the study that did not fully implement the suggestions in the initiative program.

Increase Productivity, Increase Prosperity

The wheat yield growth seen in smallholder farms indicates that the use of known agricultural techniques and improved seeds can significantly help farmers in Ethiopia increase their productivity. The methods supported by the Wheat Initiative can help the majority of Ethiopians in their day-to-day lives with increased income and better food production.

If these practices continue to spread and are implemented across the country, they could lead to improvements in Ethiopia’s wheat production and in the lives of the majority of Ethiopians.

– Lindabeth Doby
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture in IndiaFor decades, agriculture has played a key role in India’s socioeconomic growth. India is the second largest contributor of agriculture in the world with around 50 percent of people in India making their living from farming. But recently, farming has started to become less attractive, and more people are moving to big cities for different job opportunities. A decrease in water levels and poor crop yields have made it difficult to promote the growth of agriculture in India. Several organizations are stepping up to help turn things around and create new advancements in agriculture in India.

Advancements in Agriculture in India

  1. In 2017, India’s Prime Minister Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu signed seven agreements to enhance cooperation in space, agriculture and water management. The two countries hope that one outcome of this program will bring new technology that will help fight water shortages and bring agriculture back to India.
  2. The Prime Minister has also approved the Three-Year Action Plan through the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) that is aimed at the educational aspects surrounding agriculture in India, with more support being provided to the faculty and students in higher agricultural education. The hope is to bring more confident people into the agricultural field, including women.
  3. DuPont India is one of the largest agricultural companies in the country. They work with the farmers in India to find solutions to the ever-changing environment. Along with providing agricultural products, the company also empowers farmers to make their ideas a reality. They work to find sustainable ways of farming and to protect the growth of crops for generations to come. This means finding solutions for insect and disease control, which are two of the problems that are preventing further growth in the agricultural community.
  4. As the largest supplier of hybrid seeds in the country, farmers are dependent on Nuziveedu Seeds Limited (NSL) to provide high yielding seeds for their ever-growing population. The company is doing its part to contribute to the growth of agriculture in India by providing high-quality hybrid seeds. NSL provides seeds for more than 50,000 retailers. Over the years, NSL has become extremely focused on increasing crop yields, due to the water scarcity in India. The company has introduced a new concept that reduces the space between crops, which leads to an increase in overall production. This process has enabled farmers to use their time more effectively, and more than 35 percent of the farming community has started using this innovation.

Because of companies such as DuPont India and NSL, agriculture in India is able to continue to grow and be one of the largest farming contributors in the world. The entirety of India’s population is reliant on having a cohesive system of agriculture, whether it is their source of income or not. In fact, the whole world benefits from the advancements in agriculture in India; therefore, being educated in innovative, new technologies and changes in the field is incredibly important.

– Allisa Rumreich
Photo: Flickr

Water Supply in KarakalpakstanThe autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan occupies the entire northwestern end of the country of Uzbekistan. With a poverty rate of 32 percent, this region is considered one of the poorest in Uzbekistan.

The Necessity of Water

Because most of this nation’s produce comes from agricultural production, water is an essential resource for the people of Karakalpakstan. The economy is supported through the production of cotton, melons and livestock, making extensive irrigation systems critical for the smooth execution of farming practices and water management.

Water is essential to life in Karakalpakstan; more than 30,000 hectares of land have been abandoned because of the lack of water. Since the shortage of water in the region often results from farmers using water inefficiently, new and effective water-saving technologies are in high demand.

Improving irrigation systems would help these impoverished farmers move out of poverty. Effective water management can reduce the cost of supplying and storing water, which would inevitably increase the farmers’ yields and enable them to cultivate more crops. With a steady and reliable source of water supply in Karakalpakstan, the region’s farmers can be assured that they will be able to tend to their crops and rely on them for financial support.

The Project to Improve Water Supply in Karakalpakstan

In response to the ongoing water crisis, the World Bank initiated a project that aims to help 1,500 private farms and 40,000 small farming households secure access to water in Karakalpakstan.

The South Karakalpakstan Water Resources Management Improvement Project (SKWRMIP) for Uzbekistan focuses on the restoration of irrigation systems and improvements in water management. With 80 percent of its resources aimed at irrigation and drainage, the project aims to build a sustainable water distribution system and a financially stable community of farmers.

“Better water management and irrigation will lead to increased farm productivity, and thus help farmers in South Karakalpakstan build their assets and improve their living standards,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, the World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia. “We estimate that 41,000 water users will be provided with new or improved irrigation and drainage services under this project.”

Financial Benefits of the Project

This project would replace the 1950s water infrastructure in Uzbekistan, which is experiencing many complications due to age. The deteriorating infrastructure and poor water management of the 1950s system is estimated to cost Uzbekistani government $1.7 billion USD annually. However, the SKWRMIP proposal comes with a total annual energy cost of $2.4 million USD, saving the government a significant amount.  It also relieves much of the burden on rural farmers paying operation and distribution fees, allowing them the freedom to save the money for themselves.

“Our firm is planning to complete the civil works along the Buston channel this year. Thousands of farmers in several districts of South Karakalpakstan will be able to receive water for the irrigation of their lands,” said Islombek Ismatov, a SKWRMIP construction manager. “Lack of water in this region makes it more valuable than gold.”

In regions like Karakalpakstan, water is extremely valuable for livelihood. Water supply has been erratic and fleeting over the past few decades in the Republic of Karakalpakstan, but the SKWRMIP works to build and maintain a functional and accessible source of water supply in the region.

– Jenny S Park
Photo: Google