Humankind embraced agriculture because it ensured the availability of a chosen food by maintaining a delicate balance between many environmental factors.Problems of hunger, food security and malnutrition arise whenever this appropriate mix or balance with the environment is lost. How can we restore it especially in today’s context of globalization and climate change? Environmental elements such as sunlight, wind and humidity cannot be controlled easily. But through appropriate use of water and nutrients, food productivity can be increased dramatically.
However, market fluctuations can spoil all these efforts. Infrastructure for post-harvest management – cold storage for vegetables, fruits, milk, meat, egg, fish etc. become vital in this context. Further value addition by creating pulp from fruits, dried vegetables, processed and packed cereals,pulses, spices and ready mixes do not need much investment and technical knowhow. These value addition facilities along with cold storages will provide the much-needed capacity to overcome the unpredictable market situations.
We can ensure food security and nutrition in several ways. Some of the means of improving agriculture and food security in the village are:-
- Ensuring scientific usage of water by means of drip irrigation and precision farming. The result is an increase in production with reduction in water usage. That is, for the same amount of water, we can produce more food crops.
- Cultivate a healthy environment with mixed crops, crop rotation, bio fertilizers and carefully cultivate friendly bacteria like Pseudomonas and beneficial insects like Trichogramma to ward of pests. The result will be reduced pest attacks and cost saving, at the same time giving much healthier food and environment.
- Use modern techniques like poly houses, green houses, shade houses and others which can control sunlight, rain, wind, humidity and pests. The result - more quantities of food from a given area with less input.
- Introduce mechanization in agriculture sector protecting of the rights of labourers by assuring respectable income, social security and dignity. Agricultural labour is becoming scarce due to the obvious reasons of insecurity in all aspects, poor payment and self-respect issues. This is crucial for sustainable agriculture.
- Introduce a land bank through which uncultivated land of absentee/unwilling land owners can be brought in to cultivation.
- Utilize animal husbandry – cattle, goats, fowls etc. - for converting the agriculture residue into manure, pest management and ensuring vital nutrients and proteins to toddlers, teenagers, pregnant and lactating mothers and elderly.
- Provide Infrastructure for post-harvest management - cold storage for vegetables, fruits, milk, meat, egg, fish etc.
To counter market fluctuations in pricing of agricultural produce, we can make sure the people residing within the Gram Panchayat consume most of the products. This kind of local economy and agricultural system can weather most of the storms in the future and keep the population free of hunger and malnutrition. In addition, to counter malnutrition we can use appropriate Information Education Communication (IEC), improve access of people to the Public Distribution System (PDS), promote breast-feeding and ensure adequate nutrition to the adolescents and pregnant mothers to improve their nutritional status and utilize schemes for providing food directly to the elderly and the poor.
Why Gram Panchayats?
The issues mentioned above conform to the subjects of the Panchayats as per the 11th Schedule of the 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India. Agriculture (including agricultural extension improvement, implementation of land re-forms, land consolidation and soil conservation, minor irrigation, water management and watershed development) and animal husbandry (dairying and poultry, small scale industries, including food processing industries) are some of the subjects that come under the purview of a Panchayat.
For a Hunger-free Village, Gram Panchayat can work to:
||Families under PDS
|Children, pregnant women and adolescent girls under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)
||Growth monitoring of children under 6
|Coverage of pregnant and lactating women,adolescent girls under ICDS supplementary nutrition programme .
|Quality mid-day meals in schools.
|Take home rations for children under 3,pregnant and lactating mothers.
|Support for marketing of organic agricultural produce.
|Sensitization of farmers on recommendations of Soil Health Card.
|Identification and prioritization of women farmers for capacity building and benefits under different schemes.
||Information, education and communication (IEC) strategy for nutrition education and agriculture improvement strategies
|System of community support for assured nutrition for destitutes and the elderly.
|Comprehensive production plan for small-scale producers.
|Capacity of the communities for adaptation to climate change.
||Breastfeeding of infants for improving
|Locally available nutritious food.
|Resilient agricultural practices by sensitizing farmers and small-scale food producers including: Investment in irrigation infrastructure drip and sprinklers .
How do we set targets to achieve the goals?
If these are our goals, what are the specific things we should plan to achieve and by when? Can our Gram Panchayat plan for the following?
What can a Gram Panchayat Do?
- Disseminate information on possibilities of scientific agriculture and respective schemes through the Gram Sabha.
- Identify key local resource persons and capacitate them with more exposure and training on agricultural practices.
- Form farmer groups, labour groups, Self Help Groups (SHGs) and young entrepreneur groups to promote and facilitate sustainable agriculture.
- Animate the group with sufficient inputs like information about schemes,agencies, knowledgeable persons so that they will be able to develop appropriate action plans including:
- Initiation of integrated pest management, integrated nutrient management, healthy crop mix, poly/green houses, precision farming
- Formation of labour bank along with adequate machines and skill up gradation.
- Capacity building of SHGs on necessary capability to produce bio fertilizer, bio pesticides, high quality seeds and seedlings, capacity to maintains drip irrigation, precision farming, poly house systems.
- Initiation of cold storage, food processing and packaging industries by entrepreneurs
- Liaise with financial institutions, various departments like industry, power,animal husbandry and agriculture, resource agencies like agriculture universities, colleges, and NGOs to provide necessary support on improving food security
- Create a land register in such a way that crop, productivity, mechanization status are monitored and to identify gaps for intervention
- Prepare a target register for population vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition and monitor their status with the support of relevant department and agencies
Resources to look for
|National Mission for Soil and Agriculture (NMSA)
|Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY)
|Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP)
|Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY)
|Public Distribution System (PDS)
|Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)
|National Health Mission (NHM)
|State sponsored schemes and programmes on health, nutrition,agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture and livelihoods.
People to support
ASHAs, SHGs, Anganwadi workers, literacy workers, Teachers, NRLM CRPs, social activists, PTA/ school management committee (SMC), health workers, doctors,local experts, agriculture-related functionaries, departments and agencies, Agriculture and horticulture functionary, Watershed Development Team (under PMKSY-Watershed Component), Dairy functionary and veterinary professional.
Gram Panchayats and Labour Banks
Possible steps to be followed if the Gram Panchayat decides for organising a labour bank
- Organize a meeting of farmers to discuss the problem of labour availability,productivity and reliability. Discuss the future trends in labour availability,as certain the scope of mechanization in farming operations and constraints in the local context. Arrive at a consensus for contract labour for agriculture operations like land preparation, transplanting, weeding, etc. on a per acre basis. Form a committee to fine tune further action.
- Organize a meeting of labourers and discuss the aspect of work availability,job security and social security, future prospects, scope and constraints for mechanization. Arrive at a consensus for labour rate for agricultural operations. Ascertain the willingness of individuals for skill upgradation so that they can do modern agriculture operations. Form of a committee for further action.
- Match the labour rates, scope for mechanization suggested by farmer’s group with the finding of labour groups on labour rate and willingness for skill upgradation.
- Quantify the required mechanized operations, estimate the number and type of machines required and number of skilled persons required to operate them on a sustainable basis.
- Develop an action plan for purchase of machinery, setting up of garage for machine maintenance and skill upgradation.
- Liaise with respective agencies / department to materialize the above.
- Develop norms for labour bank functioning like fixing rates for each type of work on the basis of productivity, incentives for higher productivity,machine maintenance, social security pension, health insurance and accident coverage, keeping of reserves, transparency, etc.
- Develop bye-laws for labour bank incorporating these norms and norms for fund handling.
- Register the labour bank as per the relevant act in state.
- Ensure that farmers are paying mutually agreed up on labour rates, true extent of land and payment is routed through the bank account of labour bank.
- Monitor the productivity of labour and machine, whether remuneration is dispersed through bank account, social security payments are made on time, machines are adequately serviced and minimum reserves are maintained.
- Ensure that the labour bank and farmers committee will report periodically to Panchayat committee, Gram Sabha and respective departments.
How is this exercise linked to Sustainable Development Goals?
Sustainable Development Goal 2 – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
The Universal Targets
- By 2030 ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.
- By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons.
- By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and income of small scale producers like women, indigenous people, people, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers through including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge,financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and nonfarm employment.
- Ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality.
Now look at the goals and targets set by your Gram Panchayat – you are contributing to the Global goal and targets to promote sustainable agriculture, achieve food security and nutrition for all.
Source : Handbook on Sustainable Development Goals and Gram Panchayats