“Capacity-building” has gained prominence recently, particularly within development organizations. It represents an effort to enhance the well-being of individuals in resource-poor rural areas who often rely on their labor for income. This concept has deep roots in rural development, and its meaning, models, methods, and tools have continually evolved.
Farmers’ capacity building is a continuous process that allows access to information, facilitation, and empowerment, and fosters technical advancement. Within the realm of sustainable agriculture development, capacity building is primarily conducted through extension services. These services prioritize the active involvement of individuals and rural communities. The objective is to empower farmers to effectively address their daily challenges and seize opportunities that come their way. This approach places community engagement at the core of interventions, promoting the self-reliance of farmers.
How Building The Capacity Of Farmers Leads To Agricultural Success
Capacity building brings several benefits to farmers, the agricultural development of the country, and society as a whole:
Improved Food Safety
Agricultural training teaches farmers about the safe handling, storage, and processing of farm products. This knowledge is crucial for preventing food contamination and ensuring that the food reaching consumers is safe to eat. This, in turn, leads to improved public health outcomes.
Diversified Income Sources
Farmers with diversified skills can explore alternative income sources, such as beekeeping, goat farming, etc. Diversification acts as a safety net during poor crop yields or market volatility, reducing financial vulnerability.
Farmers who are well-informed and aware often become community leaders. They can mobilize resources, advocate for better infrastructure, and establish initiatives to improve rural living conditions, leading to more robust and self-sustaining communities.
Rural-Urban Migration Mitigation
By providing opportunities for sustainable income and a higher quality of life in rural areas, agricultural education slows the flow of people migrating to cities in search of work. This helps manage urbanization and reduces the pressure on urban resources and services.
Resilience to Climate Change
Farmers who are knowledgeable about climate-smart agricultural practices learn coping techniques for changing weather patterns, such as drought-resistant crop varieties or water-efficient irrigation methods.
Market Access and Trade Opportunities
Farmers who understand market dynamics and quality standards can better position their products, which leads to increased local and international sales, contributing to regional and national economic growth.
As farmers increase their productivity and income, poverty rates decrease. This, in turn, leads to improved living standards, reduced inequalities, and enhanced economic stability.
Agricultural training empowers rural women by providing them with knowledge and skills, which results in equitable gender roles in agriculture, better access to resources like credit and land, and opportunities for women to engage in income-generating activities.
Preservation of Indigenous Knowledge
Education programs encourage the exchange of traditional farming practices, which helps preserve local knowledge and biodiversity, ensuring that unique agricultural traditions are passed down through generations.
Incentive for Youth
Tailored education programs make farming more appealing to the younger generation. This is achieved through innovative and technology-driven agriculture, entrepreneurship opportunities, and exposure to modern and sustainable farming practices.
Incorporating these aspects into agricultural education and training programs leads to more holistic and sustainable agricultural development, benefiting farmers and the broader community.
What Activities Does Capacity Building Entail?
Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK)
Krishi Vigyan Kendra (Farm Science Centre) is an ICAR innovation at the district level. Since establishing the first KVK in 1974, this network grew to 631 KVKs by 2012. These centers are funded by ICAR and managed by various organizations. KVKs are pivotal in conducting on-farm tests to identify location-specific agricultural technologies and demonstrate crop potential. They also provide need-based training programs for farmers, youths, and extension personnel. KVKs produce and distribute critical inputs such as seeds, organic products, and livestock strains. Agricultural Knowledge and Resource Centers are set up at KVKs to support district-level initiatives.
Distance education programs help educate distant farmers and learners interested in agro-based industries. These programs promote entrepreneurial skills, offer continuing professional education, and provide agricultural education to various rural groups. They employ innovative teaching methods, including e-learning and modern ICT, to meet developmental needs.
Diploma Courses for Rural Youth
To address complex agricultural issues, Karnataka’s government supports SAUs in offering two-year diploma courses for SSLC-passed youth, enabling them to become successful “agripreneurs.”
Linking Small Producers with Markets
Small and marginal farmers, constituting over 80 percent of India’s farming households, often face low prices for their produce due to poverty. Aggregating their produce and accessing larger markets will improve their earnings. The University of Agricultural Science in Bangalore has successfully linked farmers with markets through the Rural Bio-Resource Complex project in Bangalore district.
Effective capacity-building activities for farmers go beyond government efforts. As outlined, collaboration with skilled NGOs is crucial to implementing multifaceted initiatives. With their dedicated teams, these organizations translate these strategies into action, working alongside the government to drive meaningful improvements in agricultural development across India.
The Top Rural Development NGO In India?
Since 1999, S M Sehgal Foundation has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of life within rural communities in India. Operating as the top sustainable rural development NGO in India under a public charitable trust umbrella, the foundation has diligently assembled a team of professionals who design sustainable programs to tackle rural India’s most urgent needs.
The foundation’s primary mission is to bolster community-led development initiatives that foster positive changes across rural India’s social, economic, and environmental spheres. Their ultimate vision is to empower every individual residing in rural India with the means to lead lives characterized by security, prosperity, and dignity.
calls at the Citizen Information and Support Center
community leaders trained
check dams/nala bunds constructed
ponds developed and rejuvenated
schools with rainwater harvesting structures
crop demonstrations improve farm practices
acres covered with drip/sprinkler irrigation
schoolchildren benefited by school transformation
*data as of June 2023
Stories Of Capacity Building
Empowered By Capacity Building And Market Linkages
Kolar, situated in the southern region of Karnataka, often recognized as the Milk and Silk City, is renowned for its vegetable crops, especially tomatoes. The district’s livelihoods predominantly revolve around agriculture, particularly dairy farming, sericulture, and floriculture. The primary irrigation and drinking water source for farmers in Kolar is borewell water.
With the backing of Walmart Foundation, S M Sehgal Foundation has launched an initiative to strengthen Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) in Uttar Pradesh and in Karnataka. This project focuses on enhancing the capabilities of FPOs, encompassing governance, financial management, and technology integration. Furthermore, the project aids these FPOs in surmounting the challenges associated with marketing their surplus produce while promoting increased participation of women.
FPOs have revitalized their governing bodies through these training programs, each comprising five to fifteen dedicated members, including a more significant representation of women as FPO representatives. This initiative is committed to ensuring gender balance in decision-making by targeting a minimum of 33 percent female participation. Over the past year, 195 Farmer Interest Groups (FIGs) have been established across these five FPOs, with 58 exclusively for women. This innovative concept of women-only FIGs has proven immensely beneficial, reaching over 1,333 women farmers and fostering their active engagement in agricultural development.
When we unite with a shared goal and receive the proper support, what seems impossible becomes attainable.
~ Narayan Swami, vice president of Markondeshwara Agriculture Farmer Producer Company Limited
Women farmers want to join the mainstream and become independent earners but must openly express their views on a common platform. However, we have gained confidence with the training support we received under the project and exposure visits to different organizations and women entrepreneurs.
~ Rathnamma, a Vrishabhavathi Agriculture farmer producer Company Limited member, Kamasamudram Kolar
Strawberry Farming, An Alternative To Economic Gain
Khagesh, a farmer in Panchnota village, Haryana, was introduced to strawberry cultivation through an S M Sehgal Foundation project in September 2021. He received 5,000 strawberry saplings and planted them in polytunnels as advised by the project team. Over four months, he harvested strawberries four times a month, yielding 10 kg per harvest. These strawberries were in high demand and sold at INR 300 per kg. In one season, Khagesh earned INR 1,25,880. The success of this intervention inspired other local farmers to follow, showcasing the impact of the project’s technical guidance.