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WAL - Water | Agriculture | Livelihoods

Vikalp encapsulates Initiatives to strengthen agri-livelihoods through water resource creation and value-chain promotion on the one hand. On the other hand, it strives to create sustainable alternative livelihoods for people through horticulture and Sustainable Business of NTFPs. 

Water | Agriculture | Livelihoods : Agriculture which constitutes the bulk of rural livelihoods in India is deeply dependent on the natural availability of water. Growing water scarcity has had a cascading effect on income as well as food security for rural populace. Thus, an integrated approach to revitalizing existing livelihoods and creating alternatives is vital. Project Vikalp is multifaceted program which juxtaposes SDG 6,8 and 5 within the lifeworlds of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh to drive a tangible social-economic transformation in their lives.

Vikalp encapsulates Initiatives to strengthen agri-livelihoods through water resource creation and value-chain promotion on the one hand. On the other hand, it strives to create sustainable alternative livelihoods for people through horticulture and Sustainable Business of NTFPs. 

Women are not only the core impact group of the program, they lead every initiative from the front, as decision-makers and changemakers. 

365 days of water: Farm ponds

Since almost all agricultural activities in the region are dependent on annual rainfall, the program aligned to SDG target 6.5 has worked sizably towards creating water resources for the tribals. Through creation of 77 farms with surface water storage capacity of more than 30 million liters, Vikalp aims to fortify year-round availability of water for farming and daily usage.

Horticulture and Beyond

The program has also actively engaged the farmers into developing horticulture plots for growing different varieties of Guava like Shweta, Barf-Khana and L-49. 30 Participating women have been given first-hand orientation on impact of horticulture on disposal income and livelihood security of small & marginal farmers. Additionally, training for horticultural management was also conducted  through demonstration visits at Pratapgarh (Rajasthan). 

These horticultural plots have been planned and laid out in a manner which has enabled the farmers to simultaneously grow subsistence crops like green vegetables, tomatoes, chilies and fruit trees like Papaya in an alternate cropping system with the Guava trees. The program has endeavored to strengthen the position of tribal farmers in the value chain of regional crops like Groundnut and Sesame by eliminating middlemen and facilitating access to market..

Women: The Harbinger of Change

The program positions itself as a standalone effort in lieu of the fact that all its initiatives are spearheaded by women. About 130 women producer groups with close to 20 members each have been institutionalized across Shivpuri. These groups have not only enabled their capacity building in sustainable agriculture and water resource management, but also given them a platform to inspire and ideate upon exploring newer possibilities in expanding horticulture and capitalizing on NTFP products from Palash and Custard Apple in the region.

While this platform has become a means to secure a substantial increase in income and food security, it has had a larger underlying social impact on the mobility and empowerment of women in the tribal communities.
Such enabling spaces have helped women in raising their voices individually and collectively and the women actively discuss local issues at the level ranging from teachers’ availability at the school to the quality of food served at the Anganwadis in the village. Going forward, the program aims to further assist these women in cultivating their inherent social and entrepreneurial skills to drive a meaningful change in the lives of vulnerable tribal communities they hail from and set a telling example.