With food prices increasing and food production down, India farmers needed access to better tools, technology and education to improve the country’s food security. Currently, the Indian government estimates the population will hit 1.3 billion by 2017. With crop production rates where they currently are, the country could be left desperately short of the food needed to feed its people.
About Project SHARE
Project SHARE (Sustainable Harvest - Agriculture, Resources, Environment) was developed as a partnership between Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals (ISAP) and Monsanto. It is a four-year pilot project launched to improve the socioeconomic conditions of 10,000 small and marginal farmers from 1,050 villages across three states in India—Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan – by providing farmers with resources to increase the crop production. The goal of this program is to improve the lives of Indian farmers by giving them access to tools, technology and knowledge so they can increase cotton and corn crop yields and income.
Project SHARE aims to enable small and marginal cotton and corn farmers to increase yields and income by providing:
- Higher-yielding seeds and agricultural inputs
- Training and education on best agronomic practices
- Formation of farmer groups to enable collective bargaining power
- Increased exposure to Krishi Vigyan Kendras, State Agriculture Universities, and modern technology demonstration units
- Creation of self-help groups for beneficiary household women
- Better market linkages
The Challenge: Small and marginal farmers are largely unaware of quality inputs, good agricultural practices and importance of aspects such as soil health, which have a profound impact on productivity
The Solution: Pre-sowing training focuses on appropriate cultivation practices for corn and cotton for maximum production.
Aspects covered include:
- Soil health and preparation
- Integrated nutrient management
- Input sourcing
- Crop geometry ensuring appropriate spacing and adequate plant population
- Water conservation
- Pest management
- Mechanized sowings with seed-cum-fertilizer drills
- Intercropping with pulses such as red gram, tomato, soybean to effectively manage inadequate and uncertain rainfall
Pre- & Post-harvest training covers the period from flowering until harvest.
Aspects covered include:
- Improving quality of harvest via good time and methods
- Minimizing post-harvest losses and mitigating risk
- Reduction in waste, storage, market intelligence and linkages
- Better marketing options through buyer linkages/meets and possible aggregation at group level
Krishi Vigyan Kendras
SHARE farmers in Rajasthan got an exclusive opportunity to visit the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK) in Bundi and Kota. Exposure visits to State Agriculture Universities, progressive state-farmer initiatives and crop research centers in addition to progressive farmers’ fields are an integral part of the ‘seeing is believing’ approach.
SHARE Seed-Cum-Fertilizer Drill
The Challenge: Improper sowing was preventing farmers from receiving the maximum benefit of their seed. Farmers were used to planting corn seed mixed with fertilizer, using a bullock-drawn indigenous plough. This would tend to kill the germinating seed and result in fewer plants actually growing in the field. However, the biggest issue was planting too many seeds – excessive plant populations drained the soil of moisture and nutrients.
Solution: To address the issue, Monsanto India, ISAP and Project SHARE’s participating farmers took ownership, and through knowledge and financial sharing, the group developed the seed-cum-fertilizer drill. The seed-cum-fertilizer drill is a device that controls seed and fertilizer quantities to conform to ideal spacing recommendations. The drill contains a double-box seed drill with sections for seed and fertilizer -- this makes it possible to adjust seed and fertilizer rates individually, with the help of input adjuster. The double-box also allows farmers to plant multiple crops.
The development and adoption of the seed drill has enabled farmers to plant at appropriate seeding rates and separate the seed and fertilizer for efficient planting. Farmers have seen yield increases anywhere from two to six tons per hectare in one growing season. They’ve also seen better seed rates, meaning more seeds per hectare, which saves on inputs like fertilizer.
The machine, shared across villages, is instilling immense pride and sense of ownership. Those who are witnessing the results are now believers in innovation and the use of improved seeds and technology.