Ambition

 

Launched in 2015, Solvay’s Sustainable Guar Initiative aims to empower farmers with tools and knowledge to cultivate the crop through good agricultural practices, resulting in more continuous, high yield production.

 

 

Program

 

The program will improve the livelihood of farmers,protect local resources and ensure a durability of income for guar bean farmers while considering the impact of climate change into their activities.

Our efforts also focus on societal inputs helping women establish kitchen gardens, providing various vegetables for their families, as well as a potential secondary income source.

Furthermore, we launched a pilot to build a long term traceable supply chain which brings value to all the stakeholders, from the farmers up to the end users.

 

Partners

 

L’Oréal was our launch partner for the first three years of the program.

Technoserve is the NGO that spearheads the on-the-ground implementation. Their experts train farmers and show how sustainable farming practices can be implemented in a practical way.

Hichem is a Solvay Joint Venture and guar manufacturer. They are our initial partner to help us make the link with the entire guar supply chain and help us in our traceability efforts.                                      

 

 

The beauty of this program is to have in the same place all potential stakeholders using guar from many industries.The end game of this project is a sustainable sourcing, a traceable supply chain, which at the end brings very strong benefit to the communities and the society. 

Emmanuel Butstraen  - President of Solvay Novecare. 
Improving guar farmers

Sustainable Guar Initiative (SGI) is a pioneering program aiming at developing sustainable guar cultivation within the Bikaner district of Rajasthan, India. This desert district is one of the largest producers of guar in India and presents many climatic challenges: vulnerable farmers grow rain-fed guar in this arid climate.

 

Guar gum is extracted from guar seeds and can be used as such, or functionalized. It can be used as a bio-based thickening/conditioning agent in personal care applications.

 

SGI was designed by Solvay and implemented by the NGO TechnoServe with the intent to create an inclusive business model relying on climate-smart agriculture:

  1. Agronomy: enhancing sustainable practices for rain-fed guar production,
  2. Environment: groundwater-neutral approaches and best practices in guar farming, along with tree plantation,
  3. Social impact: gender approaches, women empowerment, nutrition, health & hygiene
  4. Market improvement: traceability, supply chain, cooperative and market access.

 

Since 2015, SGI has been deployed in 20 villages and enrolled more than 4,000 farmers including 20% of women.

 

To confirm and consolidate the relevance of the program and to identify potential improvement opportunities, an environmental and social Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has been conducted, comparing the guar production before and after SGI.

 

On the environmental side, data collection on more 3000 farmers shows the changes in cultivation practices with benefits on Guar production yield with no demonstration of deterioration on the guar bean environmental footprint.

 

On the social side, SGI was used as a case study to structure social impact assessment methodology on smallholders and can be considered as a guiding document for future development in the complex matter of social life cycle assessment.

 

The presentation of this subject during the conference will highlight the methodology used for the social assessment of Guar cultivation in Rajasthan and will show the results with examples and illustrations.

 

Sustainable Guar - social action

An integrated approach of Social and Environmental LCA

See the poster :

Women empowerment has been defined as a key priority since the beginning of the project because women held such a special role in the farmers families both at the household nutrition level and for guar cultivation.

 

The aim of our action is to empower women through knowledge and skills development.Our action is three folds: 

  • Women participation to guar Good Agricultural Practices training 
  • Women participation to health and nutrition training 
  • Women kitchen gardening set ups as well as backyard trees planting for fruits collection


Setting up of demonstration kitchen gardens and entry point activities such as backyard plantation of trees and extensive engagement with women farmers by project staff are the primary reasons for over-achievement in enrollment of women farmers.

 

Farmers women group, India

 

Kitchen gardening focus   

 

The objective of the training on Nutrition and Kitchen Gardening is:

  • to increase knowledge of the women farmers on nutrition,

  • to enable them to improve household nutrition,

  • to set up kitchen gardens for in-house nutrition management. 

The participating women farmers are provided awareness on the benefits of various kinds of vegetables and the importance of including them in their diet. They are given reference material to consult which vegetables to sow at what time during the year. While some women already have rudimentary kitchen gardens, they do not know how to maintain them, which is taught in detail in the training. 

Several women spoke of never having cooked spinach and fenugreek before due to its unavailability in the local market, and had to be taught the method of cooking by the project team. All kitchen gardeners unanimously agreed that their consumption of green vegetables has definitely gone up because of kitchen gardens. This shows a positive impact on household nutrition, an impact which will only increase as kitchen gardening becomes a part of these households, and as more households adopt it.   

 

Good Agricultural Practices are practices that address environmental, economic and social sustainability for on-farm processes, and result in safe and quality food and non-food agricultural products according to the FAO.

 

With the Guar Sustainable Initiative, we aimed to develop Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) specifically for guar cultivation as they have never been identified before. With the help of the Technoserve agronomist, we were able to define the Best Practices to cultivate guar in the Bikaner area together with guar experts, universities and Agronomy institutes like CARZI. 

 

The GAP are at the heart of our project as we believe that the farmers, with the right knowledge and tools, are able to have a significant increase in yield, which therefore will increase their revenues and livelihood. 

 

Elaboration of training program

 

Our expert team developed training program based on the Good Agricultural Practices and are declined in different modules:

 

Module I

  • Seed selection
  • Seed treatment
  • Land preparation and soil treatment
  • Seed sowing methodology

 

Module II

  • Intercultural operations
  • Pest and disease management

 

Module III

  • Farming as a business (harvesting and post-harvesting)

 

Demo Plots

The demonstration plots have been implemented in each village in a farmer field in order to showcase the benefits of the Good Agricultural Practices. The farmers in the village come to the demo plot to see themselves how to implement the GAP and to compare the yield between the demo plots and the control plots. 

 

Sustainable Guar Initiative

Bhawarlal is a 58 year old farmer from village Bamanwali in the Lunkaransar block of Bikaner district of Rajasthan. In 2015, he volunteered to reserve an acre of his farm land to be used as a demonstration plot by the NGO Technoserve. His motivation? To learn scientifically improved agricultural practices to enhance the yields of Guar.

 

He attended training sessions on seed selection, land and seed treatment, line sowing, deep hoeing and pest management conducted by the NGO Technoserve. Constant mentoring instilled confidence in him to adopt the new practices as demonstrated in the training. 

 

Initially, Bhawarlal was sceptic about benefits of the process and he chose to allot an acre of land which was not the best suited for Guar cultivation. Although the sowing was delayed by the NGO Technoserve and the area faced a long dry spell, the quality of the demo plot crop was superior to the control plot crop. This convinced him of the benefits of improved Guar cultivation practices.

 

  • 435% was the increase in yield from his demo plot as compared to his control plot.

  • 107 kgs from the demo plot as compared to the 20 kgs from the control plot. 

 

Bhawarlal is eager to practice the techniques recommended by the NGO Technoserve on 10 acres of his land in 2016 season. He has been identified as a champion farmer as he is encouraging his fellow farmers from Bamanwali to adopt the improved Guar cultivation practices.

 

"Earlier, my husband used to go to the market to procure vegetables on a weekly basis. It was mostly potatoes. This pattern of eating could not meet our nutritional needs. Ever since I started practicing kitchen gardening in my backyard, my family consumes highly nutritional fresh green vegetables. The training conducted by Technoserve has been a boon. Producing vegetables in my own backyard has given me a sense of accomplishment and purpose. I will be practicing kitchen gardening all year round and will encourage other women in my village to adopt kitchen gardening as well."

 

Indian man, India

How the Sustainable Guar Initiative can change the life of a local Hindu family

Rukmani Devi Purnaram, 30 years old, lives with her three children in the Bikaner district of Rajasthan. She has studied till the 5th grade. Agriculture is the main livelihood source of the family. Purna Ram, her husband, is engaged in the farming of Guar, among other crops.

 

Women hardly have access to the market in the village of Dhirera. They are dependent on the male members of the family to procure vegetables once a week from the local markets. Since the men go to the market once a week, they prefer to procure vegetables which last longer without any additional storage requirement. Hence, the family mostly depends on potato, pumpkin, onions and bottle gourd to fulfill their nutritional needs. This makes it difficult for them to consume nutrient rich vegetables such as spinach and fenugreek as these leafy vegetables don’t last more than a couple of days. 

 

Development of kitchen gardens

 

Rukmani Devi attend two training sessions conducted by the NGO TechnoServe on the development of kitchen gardens. She also visited the demonstration kitchen garden developed by TechnoServe at Dhanni Devi Khetaram’s house. She was very excited by the prospect of growing vegetables in her own backyard, and soon adopted the practice. After the visits and training sessions, she worked closely with the NGO TechnoServe team to convince her family to recognize the nutritional benefits of developing a kitchen garden. Following this, she sowed ten vegetables in the first cycle – spinach, radish, carrot, fenugreek, turnip, pea, cabbage, cauliflower, tomato and onion. She made and applied amruit pani (organic repellent) according to what she learnt in the training. She regularly hoed and watered her garden. She also applied farm yard manure.

 

Benefits of the kitchen garden 

 

Rukmani Devi’s hard work has reaped her rich dividends. A total pf 33.5 kilograms was the produce of her kitchen garden in the first cycle. The family has saved INR 1340 (INR 40 is the average market price of per kg of vegetable) over three months on their vegetable consumption.

 

The benefits of the kitchen garden have been manifold. First, it has increased the frequency of the family eating nutritious leafy vegetables such as spinach and fenugreek. This has a long term benefit of improved health. Second, the kitchen garden has given a purpose to Rukmani Devi. She feels important as she is contributing productively to the family. This success has also helped in building her confidence and self-respect. Third, the produce of the kitchen garden has significantly reduced the food bills of the family.

 

In the second cycle sowing, she has already sown ridge guard, bottle guard, chili, tomato, brinjal, cucumber, and okra. Like her, there are twelve more women practicing kitchen gardening in Dhirera, and 79 women in total in the project.

 

"Earlier, my husband used to go to the market to procure vegetables on a weekly basis. It was mostly potatoes. This pattern of eating could not meet our nutritional needs. Ever since I started practicing kitchen gardening in my backyard, my family consumes highly nutritional fresh green vegetables. The training conducted by Technoserve has been a boon. Producing vegetables in my own backyard has given me a sense of accomplishment and purpose. I will be practicing kitchen gardening all year round and will encourage other women in my village to adopt kitchen gardening as well."

Guar farmer and his wife in their field