A total of 1500 volunteer farming households in Bikaner – a poor district of Rajasthan where 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture and where guar is one of only two grown crops – are covered by the initiative, whose aim is to increase guar farmers’ revenues by 25 percent over three years. “It took some effort to motivate farmers to invest in good practices related to guar, a crop that traditionally doesn’t generate much income,” explains Ravdeep Kaur. Understanding its value down the supply chain was a key element.”
As the program reaches the end of its second year, 20 to 40% yield increases have been recorded. “We work both on better crop yields and more remunerative prices. We have seen results in just two years, and for year three, we aim at 70-80 percent of farmers adopting the good practices we taught them,” – including seed selection, seed treatment, in-line sowing or integrated pest management (IPM).
But the program goes beyond growing guar. Women farmers have, for instance, been learning to adopt better nutritional practices – while saving money – by growing vegetables in kitchen gardens, in a region where the traditional diet is alarmingly monotonous.
To support the program over the long term, demo farms and village committees have been created to continue spreading awareness and knowledge. “We aim to capacitate farmers sufficiently so that they pursue the processes we have instituted,” – hopefully rendering the program self-sustained. “Solvay definitely was the one to take the initiative here,” adds Ms. Kaur. “It’s great to work with such a committed partner.”