Vision: ECI believes in human resource development at the grassroots level in the paradigm where conservation of environment is a pre-requisite for sustainable development.
CapacityBuildingof Farming Communities in Integrated Production of Cereals, Vegetables and Fodder Crops
Donors / Sponsors:
USAID – CNFA / ILED
Geographical Coverage :
District Bagh (AJK) and District Mansehra (KP Province)
Issues / Problems :
During implementation of the project, the project team identified following major issues and problems that need to be properly addressed:
ECI established its two offices in the project areas. Staff was hired that included one Technical Manager, three Technical Assistants, one Admin / Finance Manager and three laborers. Resource person was arranged by ECI to train the farmers in integrated production techniques. Capacity building of the farmers was carried out through field days conducted at each site based upon all the processes from preparation of land to post harvest arrangements. All these training were carried out at field level. Resource person used to brief about contents on site with the help of charts and pictures and then the same was practically demonstrated in the field.
The project implementation process was based upon available best management practices in the context of integrated production systems and functional models of crop management which ensure higher productivity, low cost inputs, safe methods of pest management, increased soil fertility, efficient use of fresh water resources, conservation of the particular agro-ecological systems, better farm workers health and protection of agro-biodiversity. In addition to this, the Information Technology tools such as World Wide Web, electronic mail and different databases were also used as and when needed.
670 farmers were trained at nine (9) field days at different locations. CNFA /I-LED,RIhelped project team identify the farmers to participate in the field days. Following were the key components of project methodology:
Members of the farming communities of the target areas were the primary beneficiaries of the project. As a result of project activities 716 growers were trained through the process of on-farm training. The project was designed keeping in view the whole community of the area. Farmers of the area were benefited in the following ways:
Conclusion and Recommendations :
There are no two opinions about this fact that agriculture is the only option for survival and economic revival of remote areas. But soils are poor and tired of decade’s long mono cropping systems. Its resources are suffering from degradation and have lost much of its organic matter. The once lush green land is now lacking the potential to feed its occupants. Crop’s and fruit orchards yields are shamefully low especially in upper valleys where this is the single source of food, feed and income. Unlucky is the fact that farmers take their profession as a hard and tough job, a full time activity, exposed to weather vagaries, many calamities and threats, with zero output at end of the day. Sustained and integrated approach is the only way that can ensure high production and enhanced living standard of the inhabitants at large. But this is expensive, occasionally substandard, and even not accessible when and where needed. Improvement requires holistic sittings of priorities with clearer dimensions and focused coverage. This is what highly looking, lacking and needed. No question about that we are eyes and ears of this society and are supposed to support them in their efforts and rapports, attempts and endeavors, knowledge and skills at different angles and directions. We need to put in the picture the negative side of charity, welfare and the fast developing trends of waiting ready to eat meals.
We wish to plan a joint gathering of all valleys progressive farmers at Mansehra to have a thorough presentation and deliberations on all our project’s crops, listen to their views and comments, bring their problems to the surface and incorporate that in our future planning. It may not be possible within the available budgetary provisions, I think. It would be otherwise a highly productive session for all partners and stakeholders. Could we arrange additional funds from the donors to make this event happen? It is a matter of concern. A detailed workable plan can be prepared to the extent of its positive consideration and long lasting effects, coupled with people to be invited, funds requirements for participant’s transportation, boarding & lodging and other management expenses that may be required in this transaction. An amount of one hundred thousands rupees will be all sufficient for this program if it is to be organized in dignifiedly manners. Donors can also think to find out a chief guest for this event. We can contact and convince Federal Agriculture Minister to spare some time to attend this function as a chief guest in the entire interest of the community. This will also attract media people and will supplement our efforts in this direction.
The ongoing project titled “Integrated Crop Production Program” launched in earthquake area in May 2007, with financial support of USAID, CNFA, I-LED will complete its life by the end of September this year.
One of the main characteristics of the project is the farming systems perspective and the integration of various components into a single program. The most important feature is the participation of farmers in on – farm technology development. The approach is based on small farmer’s interest groups in order to increase the impact and quality of the activities and to stimulate the active role of the farmers in all the aspects of the crop production practices. These will of course strengthen the foundation for sustainable development in the area in the long run.
ECI embarked upon the project’s activities on April 26, 2007 i.e. (6 days earlier than officially approved period). Having short time and meager funds in hands, ECI team managed the activities on the ground with practical steps forward. These activities were appreciated by all forums, including the growers who are the major beneficiaries of the program and no doubt the donors as well. ECI has introduced a number of innovations, more than those that prescribed in the plan. Few amongst others are:
The diverse agro ecology makes the farming patterns of earthquake area highly complex right from land preparation till marketing of the crops. A uniform set of integrated farming practices is totally lacking. Progress towards self-sustaining, resource-conserving, energy-efficient, economically-viable and socially-acceptable crop production practices, is not so easy task, keeping especially in view the morale and financial status of the earthquake effectees. It requires a long term realistic and practical planning to support the farming community in skill development that will enable them to review and improve their economies. There are no two opinions about the fact that agriculture extension has now reached a stage that the emphasis can shift from fact finding to transfer of knowledge.
There are following three most common issues that have paralyzed and marginalized our agriculture production and brought the rural poor to collapse:
These major reported issues are felt at all levels; however no one bothers to put forward practicable program as an effort to redress the bottlenecks and short comings. We have left the farmers to the mercy of nature and the whole situation seems like farmers and scientists are helpless and hopeless. However when there is no hope, a hope can be invented for the people to survive. Integrated crop production program is therefore a hope toward a secure future as a result of skill development followed by higher income at rural level.
Proposed Steps :
Keeping the above scenario in view, it seems that the life of current project is too short to handle such plans that happens to be a highly time consuming activity in comparison to other fields. Its continuation without disruption would yield highly positive and refined results within 3-4 years and its abrupt end would totally erode the momentum of work generated to date. If the project continues, its scope would be further expanded during upcoming Rabi season, including wheat, sunflower and fruit orchard plots in the lower valleys. ECI proposes to initiate work right from now on the following aspects: