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SKDRDP provides higher priority for developing agriculture as it is the main occupation for villagers. All the programs for developing agriculture comes under Agriculture division. The agriculture and related programs are are generally geared towards head of the family and also has specialized organization structure inside SKDRDP to better implement these programs. The agriculture programs develops 3 aspects of farmers.
The various programmes done by SKDRDP for the farmers are.
Developed by SKDRDP, "Pragathi Bandhus" are unique models of male-member Self-help Groups that center around the cultivation of waste lands through labor sharing. Such groups organize and empower small and marginal farmers and laborers through the transference of governance to the village level. By promoting compulsory labor sharing for performing individual and community tasks, each village member works for the other members for one day in a week. This has helped thousands of small farmers to complete their important farm works.
A five year farm plan prepared by the members in consultation with the group and the Sevaniratha provides the much-needed help to families. Through such collective action, the community can implement watershed construction and development programs. Pragathi Bandhu groups also provide micro-credit assistance primarily for land development, creation of infrastructure and personal emergency needs. They organize themselves into federations and the sub-committees of the federations and study the credit requirement of the groups to make recommendations for credit loans.
The Pragathi Bandhu model has now been approved by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development and has achieved the significant milestone of being adopted for the implementation of Joint Liability Group (JLG). JLGs are 5 to 10 member groups formed in each project village that act as mutual guarantee groups for bank/MFI credit.
Kissan Mela is a major annual event and is a platform for farmers, specialists and agriculture scientists from different parts of the state to share and exchange ideas. It is a forum to acquire skills, technology and updates on the latest developments in the field of agriculture. Beside farmers, manufacturers of agricultural equipments, fertilizers, pesticides, seed and seedling dealers, nurseries, banks and financial institutions and government departments participate in this mega event. The Mela inspires confidence among the farmers and provides rural artisans with their own space to display their skills and sell their products.
Krishimela are annual events and they attract a large footfalls. Hence Seminars are conducted on various subjects relevant to the agricultural community. The topics included are water and soil conservation, significance of mixed cropping, women on path to success, role of Self Help Groups in the development of dry land agriculture, microfinance programs. interviews with administrators and political leaders are also done. TO promote agriculture top notch farmers are felicitated in these functions.
Dignitaries from various departments were present at the Mela as subject matter specialists who could shed light on various topics. The crowd-puller is the exhibition cum bazaar, which brought people together to shop and to exchange information. Videos on health and sanitation, nutrition and rural development were shown continuously. Folk artists have an opportunity to exhibit their talents and their handicrafts at the Mela. Cultural programs showcasing yakshagana and dances are organized in the evenings. The highlight of the Mela was the cattle show, which had more than 400 entries. Various breeds of cattle were exhibited and the finest were honored with an award. There are around 400 stalls and the Mela normally witnesses close to 300,000 visitors.
SKDRDP and Agriculture Department, Govt. of Karnataka came together to establish Yantradhara - Custom Hire Service Centers at Hobli level, with an objective to assist Small and Marginal Farmers and to provide agri machineries at their door step. The special features of Yantradhara are:
The objective of this program was to provide machineries at the farm gate, To enhance production and as well as productivity of crops, To provide the services of High Tech Machineries to small and marginal farmers in time. The service was envisioned to mitigate labor problems often faced by small and marginal farmers. The main objective was providing machineries at reasonable cost to farmers and to aide them in increasing their profitability.
Paddy cultivation in India has been facing stiff competition from cash crop cultivation. Paddy cultivation requires more resources in the form of seeds, water, manure and labor, while only resulting in moderate yield. Most paddy cultivators also tend to be small farmers with holdings of less than two hectares. Many farmers are hence converting their land into horticultural fields. With such lethargic growth in grain production, the Indian subcontinent is slowly heading towards a food security crisis.
System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which began in the 1980s, is a new method of rice cultivation that uses lesser investments of water and labor resources to increase the yield or productivity, thereby reducing the cost of cultivation. With lesser plants per surface area, varieties of rice plants are usually healthier with a larger root volume, higher grain weight and more insect-resistant qualities.
The process of SRI begins from early transplanting, with greater tillering and more root growth. Should plants be deemed to have more tillering potential, they are carefully transplanted to a wider space. This will enable more root growth. Weeding and aeration are subsequently carried out to ensure healthy growth of the plants. Mechanization, in the form of power tillers, cono weeders, and thrashing machines has been proposed to improve upon the efficiency of the processes.
SKDRDP trains farmers on the implementation of the SRI method and develops a database to track individual performance based upon the yield of the harvest. Farmers are required to keep simple records of the methodologies applied, expenditure and income. The organization undertakes monitoring of the entire project from its initial phase. Beneficiaries will also be assisted physically with loans, whose repayment will be tracked. The outcomes of the individual beneficiary will be measured individually at the SRI promoter, block and district level.
SKDRDP has been actively involved in promoting SRI since 2004. In 2009, in partnership with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and AME Foundation (a NGO engaged in training for agriculture producers), SKDRDP has implemented the SRI project successfully.
Animal Husbandry is an agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock. Many farmers are of the opinion that animal husbandry is not necessarily profitable as farmers look for direct benefits such as milk and meat and ignore indirect benefits like manure and gobar gas.
SKDRDP conducts regular awareness camps and demonstrations on animal husbandry to educate farmers on the full range of products that animal husbandry can be used for. SKDRDP constructs low cost sheds, compost and vermi units and gobar gas units. The organization also introduces modern technologies and exotic breeds and high yielding fodder grass varieties such as Azola in order to increase the income of farmers.
SKDRDP has also expanded its services to become a corporate agent of National Insurance Company and has formally popularized animal insurance for cattle.
SKDRDP brings in science and technology to help farmers improve the yield and efficiency rate of farming their agricultural plots. The organization works together with local government line departments and research institutions to gather and transfer information to the project offices.
Each project is provided with exclusive services of agricultural and dairy technologists to guide the farmers and teach them new technologies and agro practices that expand their capabilities. For instance, field level workers are continuously trained in simple cropping techniques for regenerative and sustainable agriculture.
Expert specialists are invited to give lectures to groups of 40 to 50 farmers on government policies, horticulture and subjects related to agriculture. Such lectures focus on the existing local problems of the farmers. Progressive farmers and other eminent think tanks are also invited for training programs and demonstrations to share their experience.
SKDRDP also motivates farmers by bringing them on study tours to showcase what other progressive farmers have achieved. This may also include visits to research stations within or outside the district. Study tours may be synchronized with Kissan Mela. Such tours expose farmers to the possibilities of technological adoption and replication for their own farms.
Other agriculture extension programs include introducing high yielding varieties of crops, encouraging organic farming, liaising between the farmers and research centers, encouraging native inventions and conserving the environment.
SKDRDP encourages the cultivation of barren private lands by coordinating with various line departments like agriculture and forest, to facilitate equitable distribution of seed materials and other facilities to deserving farmers.
Un-irrigable dry lands like hilly areas are cultivated with rubber and cashew plantation crops. Special attention is given in these farms to different methods of soil and water conservation such as terracing and bunding that could make the soil arable.
SKDRDP advocates individual farm development planning annually, which sets targets that provide the direction for the next five years. Plans are drawn with the active involvement of the beneficiary, experts and the project staff. The implementation of the plan takes place in phases.
SKDRDP aims to promote cultivation in barren wastelands and to optimize the use of available lands through the adoption of scientific methods of agriculture. As such, the five year plans focus on crop cultivation and take into account other factors that could affect the development of the land, for instance, suitability of the land, water and soil conservation structures, fencing and open well construction. The plans also map out and allocate budget for the attainment of personal goals within individual families, such as house construction, electrification of the house, education, marriage and festivities. These plans are recorded into a book to be reviewed by visitors and other stakeholders.
At every stage, the sevanirathas, supervisors, project officers and auditors inspect and ensure the proper implementation of the plan.
The sevanirathas, or field level functionaries, are the first line of help who rectify problems and visit the beneficiaries regularly. The supervisors keep track of the activities of the sevanirathas to ensure a good relationship between the beneficiary and the project staff. The supervisors also observe the rate of progress and pay surprise visits to the field to ensure proper implementation of the plan.
The project officers, auditors and project coordinators monitor the activities through the supervisors and through field visits. They also check financial statements for accuracy of the expenses for a particular activity.
SKDRDP initiated Watershed Development Programs in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi Districts owing to the growing importance of conservation of water. This program stresses the conservation and proper management of water resources, optimum usage of rainwater and education on watershed methodology.
Awareness programs are conducted to educate farmers on rain water harvesting and water management activities. Several models that are being implemented in the field include percolation pits, agri ponds and borewell recharge activities.
The major watershed activities conducted include the construction of soak pits, contour bounding, recharging of stone quarries, terracing, improvement of madagas (perennial), the building of vented dams, the avoidance of soil corrosion, afforestation, and the utilization of ground water.
SKDRDP promotes the construction of wells and assists financially with the installation of pump sets and irrigation facilities in the field. Loans are also provided for the purchase of sprinklers, wells, purchase of pump sets and other equipment's. The Pragathi Bandhus share labor for digging and repairing the wells. This long-term investment helps to optimize the usage of scarce water resources.