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PARTICIPATORY IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT (PIM) SAJJATA SANGH, a network of NGOs implementing participatory Natural Resource Management (NRM) programmes
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development support centre Sajjata Sangh

Sajjata Sangh – a network of NGOs in Gujarat (Website: www.sajjatasangh.org)

DSC has promoted a network Sajjata Sangh (SS) which has 31 NGO partners across the State. These partners work in about 8000 villages in rainfed and irrigated areas. DSC Board member Mr. Harnath Jagavat of Sadguru Foundation is the President of Sajjata Sangh. The focus of the network is to promote and build capacities of NGOs as well as Community Based Organizations for agriculture productivity enhancement, cost reduction, risk mitigation and value addition. The year 2009 has been a rewarding year for Sajjata Sangh as its efforts in initiating and promoting rainfall insurance in Gujarat were recognized at the national level. The Sangh received a Citation of appreciation for good practices in community based disaster risk reduction from EFICORE and Sphere India. About 1000 good practices across the country were reviewed by a panel of experts who selected 30-35 good practices for publication in the compendium which will be in the form of a printed book and electronic media. During the current year, 1377 farmers across 8 districts and 25 blocks of the State purchased the rainfall insurance policy. Out of these, 1277 farmers have received claim under deficient and excess rainfall cover. Against the total amount of premium of Rs. 17.92 lakhs, Rs. 17.98 lakhs has been received as payout. These efforts were appreciated and recognized by an article in Money life – personal finance magazine titled ‘Life at the grassroots level’ in its July 2009 issue.
The highlights of Sajjata Sangh’s activities are:

Development of Radio Programme

A total of 163 episodes have been produced and aired till March 2010. Sajjata Sangh partner organizations are now actively involved in making the programme more widespread. Representatives from partner organizations have also participated in ‘shrota sammelan’ and shared their views to make this programme more useful.

Voice-based information access and sharing

Avaaj Otalo
is a voice-based information system for farmers throughout Gujarat to access and share agricultural information using their mobile phone. Callers dial Avaaj Otalo through a regular phone number and navigate automated prompts to access (among other features) a voice forum where farmers can record questions, listen to questions and answers of other farmers, and answer questions themselves. Also included are sections to listen to important and timely news updates, weather reports, government schemes, and previously recorded radio programmes from DSC.

Avaaj Otalo

Based on the enthusiastic response from farmers during the pilot project carried out with IBM Research Laboratory in January-December 2009. From January 2010, DSC with the help of Mr. Neil Patel, a doctoral student from Stanford University developed and initiated its own Avaaj Otalo deployment. This next generation Avaaj Otalo system includes all of the same features from the pilot system, as well as a new ‘Anubhav’ section for farmers to record personal experiences. For DSC, the new system includes an interface to efficiently manage the voice system using a web interface. Finally, an innovative new feature is the ability to route questions to particular responders through outbound phone calls from Avaaj Otalo. This was developed after observing that a significant challenge to operating Avaaj Otalo is having answers keep up with the number of incoming questions. The system is also considerably more technically stable and reliable than the pilot system. In the future, DSC will continue to evolve Avaaj Otalo according to the needs of farmers and its internal staff to make the service more useful to farmers.

Shrota Sammelan

Sajjata Sangh organised two ‘Shrota Sammelans’ (workshops with listeners) with an objective to review and plan the content, theme and subjects to be covered in Rabi 2009 and Kharif 2010 season. The first Shrota Sammelan was organized on 27th November, 2009 for North Gujarat Districts at DSC, Bopal. About 125 listeners from Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Kutch, Mehsana, Ahmedabad and Patan participated in it. Interactive group discussions on feedback of radio programme, strengthening shrota mandal and involvement of partners were quite useful. Sajjata Sangh partners which include Cohesion, Viksat, Lok Vikas and DSC gave valuable inputs on members’ involvement for scaling up.  The second shrota sammelan was held at Sayla in coordination with AKRSP on 30th December 2009. About 140 listeners from seven districts including Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Amreli and Surendranagar participated in the Sammelan and provided valuable feedback. During this event, farmers could interact directly with Dr. U.A. Parasara, an agriculture expert to discuss the problems they faced in growing different crops such as sesame, groundnut, cotton etc. 

Developing Agriculture based IEC material

a. Crop-specific CDs

The Sajjata Sangh has developed CDs on cotton and groundnut in Gujarati. The 40-minute CD covers information on necessary scientific practices such as land preparation, sowing practices, irrigation management, practices to cope with pest and diseases etc. Production of another two CDs covering wheat and castor crops is also under process.

b. Crop calendar

The Sajjata Sangh published a crop calendar on wheat containing organic farming and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approaches. Compilation of this unique wheat calendar has been possible because of the close guidance and involvement of a number of agriculture experts from partner organizations - Dr. A. V. Aglodiya (Head and Senior Research Scientist, Vijapur Wheat Research Station), Dr. U.A. Parasara (Agriculturist, UPL), Dr. Maheshbhai Patel (Professor and Head, Dept. of Agriculture, Anand Agriculture University) and Dr. J.G. Patel (Assistant - Extension Education). A total of 500 copies of the calendar have been printed and disseminated to partner organizations, universities etc.

Exposure Visit to Madhya Pradesh on Wheat

An exposure visit was organized from 4-7 November, 2009 in which 56 people (22 partner NGO staff and 34 farmers) visited the working area of PRADAN in Madhya Pradesh to interact with wheat growing farmers. A classroom session on SWI (System of Wheat Intensification) as part of the exposure visit proved very helpful. The visit was also a good opportunity to understand the functions and significance of setting up a Producer Company.
The participants also visited Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) Indore and Krushivikash-2009 – agriculture fair at Agriculture University, Indore where they were made aware about new varieties of wheat.
Ten farmers purchased four new varieties of wheat i.e. HI-1500, HI-1479, HI 8498, HI-1418 and took up trial plots in their respective fields post the exposure visit. Two follow-up workshops and visits were subsequently organized to share the management practices adopted, suitability of new varieties and their yield potential. It was observed that the varieties can be grown with only 2 to 5 waterings instead of 10 to 15 waterings for local varieties.

District level workshops on Rainfall Insurance

The high premium rate which ranges from 9% to 16% is a major constraint in reaching small and marginal farmers, women farmers and tribal farmers. Thus, Sajjata Sangh initiated dialogue with the Agriculture Department at block, district and State level to overcome this constraint. Policy holders’ meetings were organized by partner organizations at different locations for distribution of payout cheques to the beneficiary farmers under rainfall insurance for Kharif 2009 season. A total of 8 such meetings in Maliya, Mangrol, Bhavnagar, Sayala, Chotila, Kodinar, Khambha and Jamnagar were conducted. Almost everywhere, the meetings received good response from government officers and local political leaders. It was observed that policy holders were happy due to quick and real time settlement. As a result of these experiences, more farmers were keen to get coverage under rainfall insurance for which they had given a representation (Avedanpatra) to Government officials at each District/taluka level.



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