Sir Ratan Tata Trust

Irreversibly lift out of poverty, underprivileged tribals of Central India Highly Ranked

Lead Organization

Sir Ratan Tata Trust

Mumbai, State of Maharashtra, India

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Project Summary

Small and marginal farmers constitute 86.21% of farm households in India[1]. Despite producing about 80% of the country’s food, these farmers are continually plagued by high production costs, low yields, unpredictable rainfall, lack of quality farm inputs and inefficient supply chain leading to the vicious cycle of debt trap. These difficulties are compounded for indigenous farmers in India’s central tribal belt constituting 73% of the country’s tribal population[3]. The ‘Lakhpati Kisan’ initiative, spearheaded by women is a five-year program that aims to confront these challenges and ensure tribal households are irreversibly brought out of poverty by earning a steady annual income of $1450– a three-fourfold increase from their current income. The program espouses a multi-pronged approach layering various livelihood activities like market-linked agriculture, floriculture, livestock, Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP), etc. Moreover, to optimize the efficacy of the program, 70% of the households are assured with irrigation throughout the year.

Problem Statement

The average per capita operational size of agricultural landholding in India is 1.33 ha, which is well below the world average of 3.7 ha per person. Over 86 percent of the landholdings in India are classified as small and marginal landholdings with a farm size of less than 2 ha [1]. India’s central tribal belt, home to a significant number of smallholder farmers has remained poor despite considerable investment from governments, due to weak institutions and poorly developed market linkages. Over 51.5 percent of the tribal population in India’s central region lies below the poverty line [2]. Smallholder farmers in the region suffer from challenges such as land fragmentation, dependence on rainfall, outdated farming practices, limited access to credit, poor extension and infrastructure services, etc [3]. While there have been mainstream efforts at a national level for enhancing the income and standard of living of farmers, small and marginal farmers have often remained outside the ambit of advancements and benefits in the farming sector. Historically, there has been a policy bias in favour of farmers with large holdings and irrigated land who are perceived to be more valuable contributors to the economy. The program targets the Central India’s tribal population, most of which are poor (below poverty line) by making a structural change in the way they earn their livelihood through an integrated-layered approach. The program has successfully quadrupled annual income of more than 40,000 families resulting into sustainable upliftment in their living standard and lift them out of poverty.

Solution Overview

The program focuses on driving large-scale impact by triggering the community’s own aspirations for change along with convergence of multiple stakeholders for compounding impact. The emphasis on irreversibility of impact ensures increased resilience within the communities. It incorporates an integrated approach by deploying world-class ideas and innovations enabling communities to adopt multiple livelihood opportunities layered with conventional livelihood practices to significantly enhance their income-earning capabilities. In the first phase of implementation (2015–20), we are working with 101,000 tribal households across diverse geographies in Central Indian tribal belt. The average baseline income of tribal families in these regions was $574–$718 per annum with our mission to take the same to $1,723-$2000/annum. Over the past four years of implementation, the program has been able to bring more than 30,000 tribal families to the mark of annual income of $1,723. The current average annual income of all 101,000 families is $1070 resulting into these households availing education for their children, sanitation, hygiene, healthcare, nutrition and asset creation. By the end of the first phase, we expect around 80,000 households to have a steady annual income of more than $1,723.In the next phase (2020-25), we aspire to upscale the program to 150,000 additional families in the existing as well as new geographies.The program entails robust Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) frameworks based on scrupulously defined impact indicators to track progress through periodic impact assessments and review meetings at all levels to course correct the initial teething troubles and implementation roadblocks effectively.

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Project Funders

  • Bharat Rural Livelihood Mission 2015 - 2020
  • Tata Steel Rural Development Society 2015 - 2020
  • Infosys Foundation 2017 - 2020

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