Welcome to CROPS 4 HD

Currently the food systems in India do not provide sufficient and healthy food for its population. Of a total population of roughly 900 million rural and 460 million urban residents,14% are food insecure1 with a steady decline since 2004. In the project regions, the food insecurity is above average: in Karnataka 22%, Odisha 16% and West Bengal 20% of the population has an insufficient food intake.

At farm gate and household level (PUSH side), the CROPS4HD will work on enhancingproduction and educating women and men peasants on nutrition so that there is an increasein consumption of farmer's cultivars and NUS leading to improvement in food availability andnutrition. Local women/women's groups will be encouraged to sell NUS in the weekly marketsand in more urban markets. Availability of diverse vegetables and fruits in those markets willcontribute to the food security of the agricultural laborers and sharecroppers who purchasefood from the market.

The overall goal of the CROPS4HD is to improve food security and nutrition of small-holder peasants, especially women, through sustainable use and conservation of peasants 'cultivars/landraces, neglected and underutilized species respecting agroecological approaches

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The demand of urban and rural consumers for products from farmers' varieties/ landraces,neglected and underutilized species and a healthy diet is increased.

Smallholder farmers, especially women, grow farmers' varieties/landraces, neglected and underutilized species as a viable business and improve their livelihoods.

Regulatory frameworks, strategies and policies at local, national, sub-regional and global level reflect the particularities of integrated seed systems, create an enabling environment for innovative market approaches, and incentivize the consumption of healthy, diverse and agroecologically produced food.

About

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Geography and levels of the intervention:
India's PUSH-related activities are in the provinces Karnataka (Dharwad, Mysore districts),Odisha (Bargarh district) and West Bengal (South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas districts).PULL-related activities are in Dharwad, Hubli, Mysore and Bangalore in Karnataka, Bargarh& Sambalpur in Odisha, Kolkata, and Barasat in West Bengal.

Target group and beneficiaries (food systems):
The primary beneficiaries of CROPS4HD in the food systems will be 9000 vulnerable women and men peasants or 20'000 women, men, and children in the above-mentioned project areas. The targeted households practice mixed livelihood options including agriculture, non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) collection, wage labor (agricultural, non-agricultural) and small-scale livestock rearing. Major crops cultivated in the project area are paddy, pulses, millets, maize, cotton, oil seeds, and vegetables.

The project gives a special focus on women and youth, seeking to empower them andincrease their representation and voice at all levels. Women are the major workforce in all countries in the agricultural sector, but often restricted by discriminating gender roles and customary laws, and they do a lot of work, which is invisible and not valued. The focus onwomen, who are responsible for the safeguarding of seeds (especially food crops and NUS, while men take over more responsibilities for cash crops) is key for the success of the project. Project will not only target individual peasants but also their organization like farmer producerorganizations and women SHGs.

PUSH-related beneficiaries (seed systems):
pictureThe primary beneficiaries of CROPS4HD in the seed system are 300 seed guardians/savers and 60 seed multipliers/producers. Seed guardians are the individual peasants who have exhibited their skills and passion in conserving, renewing, maintaining, multiplying and cultivation of indigenous seeds on their own, functioning as local seed banks, and provide a limited quantity of seeds to other peasants for multiplication. Seed multipliers are peasants who are involved in multiplying a few selected seeds in quantities large enough to supply to seed banks and many peasants for cultivation. Some of the seed multipliers also sell their seeds to other peasants. The project will explore the possibility of supporting the seed multipliers to expand their sales.

IMPLEMETATION

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Inception phase and baselines
The project will build on the two baseline studies that will take place in 2021. The PUSH baseline will include both the survey and status of agro-biodiversity, agro-ecological aspect and gender issues as well as peasants' purchasing preferences in the seed market. The PULL baseline CROPS-4HD will conduct in the first two food systems to understand consumer buying habits and preferences better. The agro-ecological aspect and gender issues are also part of the farmer household survey (PUSH) and consumer survey (PULL) which is derived from the FAOTAPE agroecological survey adjusted for NUS cultivation and seed sourcing. Based on this inception phase and the insights gained from the studies, the approaches will be further refined. For the PULL approach, this means CROPS4HD will select final food systemsand identify further stakeholders, inviting them to the first stakeholder event. For the PUSHside CROPS4HD will design the training content and support packages in detail and decide onthe final selection for the cultivar testing.

Awareness creation
pictureOn the PULL side, the project intends to reach 500'000 consumers by campaigns on healthy diets based on underutilized species and peasants' cultivars and link with 18'000 consumersthrough direct marketing. To gain a better understanding of the status and factors influencingfood choices/diets at the household level (with a special focus on the role and potential of orphan crops in the dietary diversity as well as the role and potential of women in nutritionsensitivedecision making. CROPS4HD will conduct a gender-sensitive consumer survey. To strengthen marketing of food and seeds CROPS4HD will do the same to map the market actors, understand their current role and terms of trade and identify the potential for engagement inthe project. By partnering up with local stakeholders, there will be a strong focus on consumer awareness by organizing seed fairs, food festivals, nutrition-related education campaigns, social media campaigns and the development and distribution of IEC materials (calendars, booklets). The project will also engage with consumers by organizing workshops with doctors and nutritionists. To build the trust of consumers, CROPS4HD will organize regular meetings and exposure visits to agriculture fields for consumers and producers.

Market development
To develop these markets/food systems, the project will use the Participatory Demand Creation and Market Development (DC&MD) approach. The method includes all relevantactors, such as producers, processors, local authorities, schools, retailers, and consumers. Theproject will apply the three-step approach each concluded by an event.

  • Step 1: Understand the market drivers and select best ideas to develop business plans andmarketing strategies for products
  • Step 2: Analyze most promising business plans and pilots promising marketing strategies and/or promote enabling factors for a diversity of agricultural produce
  • Step 3: Implement most successful initiatives and support scaling out for a limited period

The PUSH key elements and activities
Inventory and genetic diversity
Peasants have become mostly dependent on markets for high yielding and/or hybrid seeds. These seeds show less tolerance to the effects of climate change. These seeds are usually not available at the right time and in enough quantities. Moreover, the peasants cannot save these seeds for future use. CROPS4HD will make efforts at the grassroots level for collection and preservation of indigenous seeds, which are more resistant to climatic stress

Agronomy and agroecological production
pictureAt the beginning of the project, CROPS4HD will conduct a survey of production aspects to understand existing cropping pattern and practices. Further, the project will conduct training of trainers on data collection and monitoring of these plots, training of trainers on differentsubjects in agroecological approach to develop partners' capacities in trial management. Focusing on farmers needs and constraints, the project will embark on a participatory on-farm research journey based on farm cultivar testing through mother and baby trials and if necessary, PPB (Participatory Plant Breeding) of NUS for collaborates. To also ensure the biodiversity of main crops at farm level biodiversity blocks will be maintained at regional by implementing partners. Peasants will be brought at the beginning of cultivation season, in themid and at the end together for peer learning and exchange with scientist and project staff.

CROPS4HD will establish tool banks for agricultural implements in project villages. Based on the feedback received from women, CROPS4HD will procure those implements, which are suitable for them. One of the women SHG will manage the tool bank.

CROPS4HD has preselected 33 potential NUS, which the project can support and out of which the most promising ones CROPS4HD will select for Participatory Variety Testing. At farm level, CROPS4HD promotes diversification, but it will as well continue to provide agronomical advice and support to the existing staple crops. Those preselected crops will be at the center of marketing related activities.

 
N-33Cereals

Brown top millet (Panicum ramosum), Barnyard millet (Echinochloa frumantacea), Proso millet (Panicum miliaceum), Finger millet (Eleusine coracana), Foxtail millet or Italian millet (Setaria italica), Little millet [Suan] (Panicum sumatrense), Kodo millet (Paspalum scrobiculatum)

Fruits

Indian gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica), Jack fruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), Java plum (Syzygium cumin), Papaya (Carica papaya), Moringa (Moringa oleifera), Guava (Psidium guajava)

Legumes

Moth bean (Vigna aconitifolia), Horse gram (Macrotyloma uniflorum), Black gram (Vigna mungo), Ground nut (Arachis hypogaea), Lablab bean (Lablab purpureus), Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus), Green gram or Mung bean (Vigna radiata)

Oil crops

Sesame (Sesamum indicum)

Pseudo cereals

Amaranth leaves (Amaranthus spp.)

Roots and Tubers

Lesser yam (Dioscorea esculenta)

Vegetables

Sponge gourd (Luffa cylindrica), Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), Cluster beans (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba), Bydagi Chilli (Capsicum annuum), Musk melon (Cucumis melo), Goosefoot (Chenopodium album), Bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria), Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia), Rigde gourd (Luffa acutangula), White Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

 

At the current stage of planning (refined during inception phase), the project will test and assess 11 crops and their cultivars
through baby, mother trials and agroecological testing.
They are:

West Bengal:Odisha:Karnataka:

Green gram, lablab beans, winged beans, and Amaranth

Little millet, kodo millet, Finger Millet, Green gram, Sesame

Little millet, brown top millet, Amaranth, Horse gram, Moth beans