Following Core Humanitarian Standards for Agrarian Prosperity

‘Community participation is a prerequisite for successful projects’, with this objective Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) made a visit to understand how well the standards are applied in the SCIAF funded program and how well they are applied and are reflected in the partners policy, systems and culture.

SCIAF visited Caritas India Agrarian Prosperity Programme in Jharkhand to understand the policies, processes, procedures and practices of Core Humanitarian Standards (CHS) embedded in the programme.

Focus Group Discussions (FDGs) were conducted for men and women to review the CHS principles and practices at the programme field level. All the nine commitments of CHS were reviewed in terms of programme relevance, standard and indicators.

The programme has made a remarkable impact in achieving inclusive growth in terms of establishing community institutions, introducing low-cost organic farming practices and Azolla, Model nutritional garden, farmers producer organisations, and community-managed seed banks.

Community based organisations were formed to address the need of the community in achieving short-term and long-term goals. It deals with the economic, physical, and social aspects of development. The established organisations take collective action with a participative approach to work towards its development. More than 60% participation of women in every community meetings are ensured which was not before due to their cultural barrier

Organic farming is promoted in the programme to promote and enhance agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. The programme has revived traditional agricultural practices using on-farm agronomic, biological and mechanical methods to conserve soil and water.

Azolla as nutrient and livestock fodder is introduced in the programme to produce large quantities of biofertilizer, food, livestock feed and biofuel. It is a great feed for livestock such as poultry, pigs, dairy, fish, goat and sheep. It also used as a biofertilizer in paddy cultivation which results in reducing cultivation cost and increase paddy yield.

Kitchen Garden was introduced in the programme with 18 varieties of vegetables to enable enough nutritious food, including some staple foods, for all the family year-round. Locally suitable and nutritionally viable vegetables and fruits were selected by the community which were grown in their garden. This not only provide home grown nutrition to the family but also provide opportunity of additional income from the sale of these vegetables and fruits.

The programme was able to form five farmers producer organisations with 800 farmers. The collectivization of producers, especially small and marginal farmers, into producer organisations has given an effective pathway to address the many challenges of agriculture and most importantly, improved access to investments, technology and inputs and markets. Farmers are now collectively leveraging their production and marketing strength.

Seeds hold the power to regenerate species, promote biodiversity and enable ecosystems to adapt to an ever-changing world. The programme has able to establish 10 community managed seed banks with 62 types of traditional crops, millets, pulses, oilseeds and vegetables at the village level with community participation. It is a way to preserve the historical and cultural value and reduce the dependency in the market.

Focussing smallholder farmers to achieve environmentally sustainable livelihoods, food security and increased income, the programme has able to increase 20% agricultural production, diversified income sources, and ensured community’s access to social benefits and Government schemes through a rights-based approach.