To address these land degradation/soil erosion issues, the PRASAD Project will provide organized trainings to local farmers to help them:
- Adopt organic farming and horticulture techniques (to address land use/environmental issues)
- Replenish/fertilize the soil for crop management and optimum utilization of land (to address land use/environmental issues)
- Implement an integrated watershed program for sustainable water resource use (to address land use/environmental issues)
- Implement a soil conservation program (to address land use/environmental issues)
- Implement a tree planting program (to address land use/environmental issues)
- Market and sale of food products and other agricultural outputs (to address economic/employment issues)
Additionally, the commitment will provide organized trainings to community residents and villagers through Self-Help Groups (SHGs) to train the community to implement:
- Adult Education Programs (to address illiteracy)
- Vocational Training Programs (to address economic/employment issues)
- The incorporation of Environment Education Programs into schools and communities (to address environmental issues)
- Social Health Awareness Program (to address health issues)
- Sanitation & Solid Waste Management Programs throughout the Tansa Valley (to address environmental issues)
- Eco-friendly alternative solutions for basic living needs (to address environmental issues)
- Self-Help Groups on a long-term basis (to achieve permanent impact)
Implementation: The four main components to this project that will be implemented are: Organic Farming (training in farm management); Animal Husbandry Project (develop and manage Cow Shed Program for organic farming); Environment Education Program in Schools (in collaboration with two NGOs); and Self-Help Group Trainings (food processing by traditional methods). These components will be implemented during the duration of the project.
Skills, Resources, Capacity: For decades, government-run Primary Health Care Centers and the few private clinics in the Tansa Valley could not meet the needs of so many people. To improve this prevailing situation, PRASAD Chikitsa, a licensee of The PRASAD Project, was established in 1994 to help address the comprehensive medical, education and community development needs of Tansa Valley residents. Its intention was to bridge the gaps and improve quality of rural life.
PRASAD (Philanthropic Relief, Altruistic Service And Development) is a not-for-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life of economically disadvantaged people around the world. The PRASAD Project works with communities to help them become self-reliant. PRASAD's initiatives encourage organized community participation in identifying local problems and finding sustainable solutions to them. PRASAD has a wealth of successful experience working together with the people who live in the Tansa Valley. Its subsidiary, PRASAD Chikitsa, provides HIV programs, eye surgeries, community development, education and nutrition programs as well as general health care programs in the Tansa Valley. Before PRASAD Chikitsa began offering programs in the Tansa Valley, most children in the area were malnourished; adults battled untreated tuberculosis and heart disease, and many endured lives of blindness caused by cataracts.
Since 2001, PRASAD Chikitsa has been implementing meaningful and effective Community Development Programs in India's Tansa Valley, working with community members to assess their needs and create sustainable projects that improve the quality of their lives. Initiatives include agricultural, environmental and education projects, and over 300 Self-Help Groups (SHGs). These programs continue to gain momentum as they help the people of Tansa increase their income, learn new skills, protect their water sources and develop greater self-confidence.
In India, many circumstances thwart the farmers of smallholdings--inability to get financing, the high cost of supplies, poor irrigation and lack of transportation to get crops to market before they spoil. PRASAD Chikitsa helps farmers to form clubs, and educates them on a range of issues, including how to increase crop output, conserve water, and implement year-round farming techniques. The Tansa Valley now has five PRASAD Farmers Clubs, with a combined membership of 212 men and women.
With PRASAD's support, farmers in the Tansa Valley have planted mango and chikku trees--popular fruits that are easy to sell. Amidst the trees, they also are planting cash crops such as colorful marigolds or chamomiles, and vegetables such as spinach, beans, cucumbers, peppers and squash. It takes five to seven years for the fruit trees to become productive and profitable; in the meantime, these second crops provide both additional food and income. PRASAD Chikitsa plans to expand the project to more farmers in the next year.
PRASAD helps people in the Tansa Valley form Self-Help Groups. With 10-20 members each, they are small enough to be self-managed and large enough to make a difference. At a basic level, SHGs are micro-banks; they aid members during emergencies and they invest in the income-generating activities of their members. At another level, SHGs give members an organized forum to improve the quality of their own lives and the lives of those around them.
The official start date of the project is June 1, 2012 with various components of the project being phased in throughout the first year. The recruitment and hiring of staff will begin prior to the launch date of June 1st. The Self-Help Groups will start to be identified for training beginning June 2012. The 111 SHGS planned will be staggered throughout the duration of the project. The Environmental Education Program will begin with the start of the academic year. The training of farmers will begin in November 2012 (once paddy field cropping is complete).
The Tansa Valley in India, with a population of 250,000, is undergoing rapid and uncontrolled development which is dangerously affecting natural resources and biodiversity, agricultural land, and air and water quality. Land area use has risen dramatically for housing, retail markets and manufacturing plants. There are several issues that are causing a rapid decline in the productive capacity of the land.
Local farmers are increasingly selling their land to developers, particularly brick-making companies that use the top soil and leave the land in poor condition for future farming. Farmers are attracted to selling their land since it yields short-term gains for repaying loans taken to purchase seeds and fertilizers. They do not realize that there is a detrimental long-term effect since soil takes many decades to become fertile-it is a complex process that involves a constant cycling of nutrients between organic and inorganic forms. Brick companies' kilns, in particular, greatly diminishes and deteriorates the land for productive farming. Not only is land in the Tansa Valley becoming more and more barren due to the rise of brick manufacturers, but the rampant burning of fuel to make bricks discharges pollutants and impurities into the air causing a near-permanent thick haze and smoke combustion throughout this rural community. Villagers are constantly breathing and taking in these high volumes of dangerous particles, causing respiratory infections and permanent lung damage. Their health status is already severely threatened since infectious diseases dominate the morbidity pattern in this rural area. Additionally, a high number of forest trees are being cut down by the Adivasis, the aboriginal people living in the Tansa Valley, as well as local residents.
Struggling farmers in other parts of India are starting to profit from organic farming. Organic farming, when practiced properly, reduces the input costs for fertilizers, pesticides and seeds, and enhances the fertility and resilience of their land. Not only are the incomes of organic farmers in India soaring--by 30% to 200%, according to organic experts--but their yields are rising as land is repaired through natural farming methods. According to the World Bank 'Farmers in developing countries who switch to organic agriculture achieve higher earnings and a better standard of living.'