In September 2007, AID San Diego approved its first project in the area of low external input sustainable agriculture (LEISA). The project is spearheaded by Chetna Vikas (CV), an organization that has worked on propagation of natural farming and issues related to women’s empowerment for the last 20 years in Wardha, Maharashtra.
CV believes in promoting self-reliance of small farmers in tackling the agrarian crisis using natural farming techniques. They promote this by:
- Developing appropriate alternative technologies, models & methodologies;
- Demonstrating easy, feasible applications;
- Farmer-friendly methods of dissemination of Knowledge-Attitudes-Skills (KAS) and,
- Promoting Farmers Organizations/Groups & Self-Help-Groups (SHGs) of women
The project funded by AID SD has the following goals:
- Create 50 demonstration farms across 10 villages in Wardha, showcasing the productivity, profitability and sustainability of LEISA farming through emphasis on soil fertility, water-management, eco-friendly pest and disease management, propagation and dissemination of appropriate seeds and planting material and companion cropping.
- Preparatory work for soil & water conservation on 250 acres across 10 villages by providing training and resources to village engineers;
- Pilot project on the Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS) system of certification for marketing of agro-produce by forming villagers groups from 10 villages,
- Starting agro-processing units run by various SHG’s in project area villages; and
- Equipping SHG’s to market agro-produce by purchasing wholesale quantities from farmers.
The total project budget funding was $24,000. In addition to San Diego the following chapters also supported the project, Bay Area, Philadelphia, Berkeley.
So far AID San Diego has conducted two site visits and the volunteers have been very impressed with the work and reputation of CV. Details of the December 2007 project visit report are available on our website.