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Improving the livelihoods of marginal farmers, by outscaling irrigation and agricultural practices, through collectives, in the Eastern Gangetic Plains - final report
ACIAR Final Reports 2020. (FR2021/016):101pp. 26 ref. ; 2020.
Article in English | CAB Abstracts | ID: covidwho-1898201
ABSTRACT
The combination of appropriate agricultural and irrigation practices, and innovative social interventions through farmer collectives, were shown to strengthen fragile agricultural livelihoods in the project "Improving water use for dry season agriculture by marginal and tenant farmers in the Eastern Gangetic Plains" (DSI4MTF - ACIAR Project LWR/2012/79), which operated from 2014-2019. The success of the DSI4MTF model is dependent on the scalability and sustainability of the collectives, as well as the ability to manage risks associated with irrigated agriculture and climate change. This small research activity (SRA) continued engagement with farmer collectives in six villages in Saptari (Nepal) and Bihar and West Bengal (India), with the aim to extend the use of climate-smart irrigation and water management practices and strengthen institutional structures to sustain farmer collectives to ensure their long term sustainability. It was found that "measuring to manage" helps to improve on-farm irrigation and water management decisions, thereby mitigating climate risk. A Smart Irrigation Toolkit (SIT) approach has been outlined, which incorporates simple field level assessments using low-cost measurement equipment, supported by decision support mobile Apps. SIT provides the farmer with timely information to improve irrigation practice. It also provides managers operating at a program or scheme level, with information to support spatial and temporal benchmarking, as well as system operating, maintenance and replacement decisions. The establishment of farmer collectives, which allow farmers to pool land, labour and capital, has been shown to be foundational for sustainable agricultural intensification by marginal farmers. The SRA period was used to identify the longer-term strategy to sustain these collectives and build their scalability. These include the need to harness existing cohesion and collective spirit within communities, the importance of expanding to form larger plots, and the critical role played by ethical community engagement in ensuring buy in from communities. Most importantly, to strengthen the collectives and ensure their sustainability after the end of the project, a Collectives Association has been proposed and piloted under this SRA. The Collectives Association brings several groups together under a single institutional framework. It helps offer broader economies of scale, strengthens linkages with other institutions, and could support training of farmers in irrigation technologies, renting of equipment, facilitating conflict resolution, and supporting blue sky ideas such as a land lease bank. The project has had substantial success in building gender equity through the collectives, and in considering gender across the supply chain. There has also been considerable progress in strengthening links between the farmer collectives and a range of institutions and programmes. Links to the private sector, especially with regards to the marketing of agricultural produce, need to be further strengthened, and the collectives association could play a critical role. It was suggested that the scaling of improved irrigation practices through a Smart Irrigation Toolkit (SIT) is best done through a pilot project, which integrates project learnings with organisations responsible for irrigation development. While there is good potential for scaling, business cases are required to demonstrate potential benefits to the range of beneficiaries. These business cases need to be developed in association with irrigation scheme implementation agencies, as well as with organisations supporting farmer communities. The public sector has a key role to support the initial scaling of SIT. Alignment with irrigation and agricultural department functions would establish a program for deployment, demonstration and alignment with policy. The Collectives Association would play a key mediating role for marginal farmers, and could support the deployment of SIT locally. The COVID19 pandemic, which started in the last few months of the SRA pe
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Collection: Databases of international organizations Database: CAB Abstracts Type of study: Prognostic study / Randomized controlled trials Language: English Journal: 016):101pp. 26 ref. Year: 2020 Document Type: Article

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Collection: Databases of international organizations Database: CAB Abstracts Type of study: Prognostic study / Randomized controlled trials Language: English Journal: 016):101pp. 26 ref. Year: 2020 Document Type: Article