SEWOH – Improving livelihoods of people with and without disabilities in the hills of Uttarakhand through community-based inclusive agriculture, India.
Disability inclusive development is the very apex of the development agenda for CBM and Sanjeevani. Both organizations joined hands in the past and revolutionized the lives of small and marginal farmers with and without disabilities, through implementation of innovative and inclusive development programmes.
The quest to achieve a just society with equity and justice for all the vulnerable groups including persons with disabilities redirected the focus of both the organizations towards the appalling condition of small and marginal farmers with & without disabilities in the rural areas of Almora district.
People with disabilities in the target areas are the most vulnerable to poverty. The ability of women and men with disabilities to earn a living through agricultural work is very limited due to barriers such as unavailability of adapted implements or tools and lack of access to financial resources. However, agriculture is often the only way to earn a living in this region. Therefore, people with disabilities are dependent on the support of their relatives, which is often perceived as a burden. People with disabilities currently have little influence on improving their living situation, as they are not organised in interest groups that could support them to access their rights and entitlements. Due to the stigma associated with disability, they are excluded from the mainstream society. There are many government programmes for farmers and farmers with disabilities, but the outreach of the programmes is limited to the immediate vicinity of the government offices. The topography of the target region and geographical constraints are some of the major challenges that lead to unequal distribution of all government services. In parts of the Himalayan region, communication facilities are not good, so farmers and people with disabilities are not aware of many government schemes and programmes, which leads to them not realising their rights and entitlements.
Overall, the situation for small and marginal farmers with and without disabilities in the target region is very difficult as farmers still use traditional methods. Lack of knowledge and improper/inefficient management practices have not only reduced the production and quality but also deteriorated the soil health. Owing to the rough and treacherous topography the farmers dwelling in the area do not have access to high-end markets. Soaring cost of transportation/labour and wildlife menace further adds to the agony of the farmers.
These problems have already led to the abandonment of many plots of land and increasing seasonal and permanent migration for years. According to official statistics, more than 54% of smallholder farmers own less than 0.5 hectares of land and more than 70% of households have an annual income of less than 1,000 euros from their main occupation.
Sanjeevani and CBM collaborated with BMZ to initiate an innovative solution to address the above-mentioned issues of small and marginal farmers with and without disabilities. The overall objective of the programme is to sustainably improve socio-economic conditions of 2500 small and marginal farmers including 500 farmers with disabilities, through improved agri-horticultural practices and initiate community based aggregated marketing.
The project addresses the problems of the target group through interventions in three areas.
- Based on the principle of “Leave no one behind”, the project ensures the participation of persons with disabilities in all planned project activities through the establishment of sustainable structures in the form of community based inclusive groups (CBiG) and the establishment of organisations of persons with disabilities (OPD) to realize the rights and entitlements of all the vulnerable groups.
- Within the framework of the established CBiGs, farmers with and without disabilities will enhance the production, productivity, and quality of agricultural produce through training in modern cultivation methods, high-quality agriculture inputs and adapted agricultural equipment.
- Two formal farmer producer organizations will be established which will be operated by farmers with and without disabilities and will support small and marginal farmers to enhance the shelf-life of the agricultural produce and establish strong market and financial linkages.
The quantifiable indicator of the project includes:
- Government linkage of 90% right-holders involved in the programme
- Enhance the production of agriculture produce to 30,000 tonnes for 2500 small and marginal households
- Enhance household income by 30%
- Active participation and representation of persons with disabilities in village level governing bodies and inclusion of needs of persons with disabilities in village development plan.
- Ensure 30% female participation in all project activities
- Technology transfer to 2500 small and marginal households including households of persons with disabilities on modern and scientific agri-horticulture practices.
- Improve soil health conditions for 75% households involved in the programme
- Establish 500 thematic accessible demonstration units for agriculture and allied activities
- Strengthen the forward and backward linkages for 2500 small and marginal households through 02 established farmer producer organizations
- Reduce the post-harvest losses by 20%
The vision of the programme is to create a sustainable and inclusive agri-value chain and ensure socio-economic development through capacity building and active participation of persons with disabilities in community based enterprises/groups.