Helping Farms Thrive

Planting the Seeds of Sustainability

A farming family in India
Imagine you’re a farmer in rural India, growing rice and vegetables on a small plot of land. Not only do you depend on successful harvests for your own livelihood, your crops help feed other families in your community as well. Like all farmers, you face unpredictable weather, weeds working to crowd out your crops, and relentless hungry insects. But you have to meet these challenges with limited tools and minimal information to guide you.
You don’t have access to information about updated farming practices and technologies that would help you protect your crops and increase you yields. You don’t have regular weather alerts to help you plan for what’s coming. And you don’t have full access to the crops market. Instead, you have to sell your produce at cheaper prices to middlemen, who then charge more on the market.
A farmer working in a field

This is all too common around the world. Smallholder farmers provide the majority of the food consumed in developing countries, where much of the population struggles with food security. And many of them have to do it cut off from crucial information that would help them succeed.

If this doesn’t sit right with you, you’re not alone. That’s why S M Sehgal Foundation works to help rural communities in India create sustainable programs for managing water resources, increasing agricultural productivity, and strengthening rural governance.

A farmer’s hands, harvesting chile peppers

Sharing a Wealth of Knowledge

Through its Samagra Krishi (“holistic agriculture”) initiative, the Sehgal Foundation has helped more than 6,000 small and marginal farmers improve their productivity and livelihood. The project has supported more than 25 villages in the Indian state Bihar by introducing farmers to new solutions for farm mechanization, soil testing, crop diversification, high-tech nursery raising, solar irrigation pumps, and kitchen kit gardens.

Suhas Joshi, head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Bayer in South Asia, told us a bit about Bayer’s support for this important work. “The principle objective was to reach out to as many farmers as possible,” he explained. “The outstanding aspect about this project has also been to kindle entrepreneurial spirit in farmers to ‘help themselves’ by working together on projects and sharing the benefits.”

The program has provided fourteen new solar-powered pumps to help about 4,000 farmers. Farmers have also made great strides by adopting zero tillage. Tillage — plowing the land to prepare it for crops — helps control weeds and break up soil, but it can also cause erosion and water loss. About 2,000 acres in Bihar are now covered under zero-tillage technology, which is saving substantial amount of water and fuel, while enabling better weed management. And through the program, the farmers also learn about alternative livelihood options, such as goat rearing.

A Kitchen Garden kit box
The Kitchen Garden Initiative included a kit with a variety of vegetable seeds. Farmers received training and a demonstration on preparation, planting, maintenance, and ongoing usage.

Ramakant Kushwaha was one of many farmers in Bihar who struggled just to produce enough food for him and his family. With low yield harvests, there wasn’t much left over to sell on the market. Samagra Krishi helped him change all that. The program introduced him to new tools, such as a zero-tillage machine, for a fraction of the cost. Not only did he see a great efficiency boost on his farm, he also got an opportunity to lease equipment out to other farmers. He reduced his cost of cultivation by more than half and also generated additional income through providing other farmers an opportunity for utilization.

While this important initiative has already provided life-changing experiences to many farmers in need, there’s still a lot of room to grow. Bayer continues to collaborate with Sehgal Foundation, supporting its efforts to positively impact the Indian farming community. This includes app-based water management, improved weather forecasting and toll-free helplines to support farmer questions, just to name a few.

Learn more about the Sehgal Foundation’s important work here.

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