The project area includes 1,200 villages in the districts of Akola, Amravati, Buldhana, Wardha, Washim and Yavatmal. The Government of India and the Government of Maharashtra state have asked IFAD to intervene in the region, where agricultural distress and farmers’ suicides are pressing issues. Farmers’ productivity and incomes are low, and they face food insecurity, partly as a result of inefficient water use, depleted soil fertility and indiscriminate use of fertilizers and hybrid seeds.
To reduce distress, the national and state governments will provide emergency packages to affected households and will shift the focus of agricultural development towards low input production systems.
IFAD financing in the form of a loan and a grant supports the project, which the organization will supervise directly through its country office. The project will have a multistakeholder approach, encouraging participants to build ownership of project activities. It will focus on establishing and strengthening inclusive grass-roots institutions, and on fostering community consensus for activities.
The project’s objectives are to:
- improve household incomes through diversified farming and off-farm activities
- make farming systems resilient by introducing low external input and organic farming
- help farmers’ groups become involved in primary processing, quality improvement and marketing
- empower women by improving their access to microfinance and to activities as microentrepreneurs
- ensure convergence with ongoing government projects so that all projects are aligned with the common objective of restoring agricultural profitability
The aim of the project is to achieve increased productivity through water conservation and organic farming and sustainable, low external input agriculture. Combined with a reduction in production costs, this is expected to result in increased household incomes and improved food security. Diversification into fruit, vegetable and livestock products will contribute to better nutrition. Increased carbon content will enhance soil fertility and increase moisture retention, allowing higher cropping intensity.
The project’s innovative features include provisions for:
- fostering pro-poor partnerships with the private sector
- using the instrument of contract farming for production of organic cotton and other crops
- introducing an end-to-end subproject approach