Part I: This is part one of an eight part article series on JIVA, the Joint Initiative on Village Advancement, an integrated community development program supported by the John Deere Foundation and implemented by PYXERA Global and local partners in three rural villages of Rajasthan, India. This series reflects the impact of the JIVA program on its contributors and communities. To learn more, visit the JIVA Homepage and the most recent project update. Keep an eye out for Part II.
Before JIVA, farmers were not aware of improved agriculture techniques and there were no fruit orchards. Only a few farmers would plow their fields during the summers. There was not a single vermi-compost pit in the JIVA villages and all the farmers would broadcast seed to grow wheat. Due to a lack of knowledge, the farmers were using excessive pesticides and other inputs. There were, and still are, some barriers that affect JIVA’s work, such as the lack of education and literacy among the farmers, the small size of holdings and plots, lack of water and its poor quality, lack of fencing around the fields, and damage due to nilgai, a local antelope species.
When JIVA began, the villagers thought that we were like other NGOs and our purpose was to give away things like seeds, fertilizers, etc. In response, JIVA conducted neighborhood meetings and explained that we are here to provide trainings and knowledge on how to farm more effectively – not to distribute handouts. While farmers did not trust JIVA at first, we gained their trust through regular contact. By investing in consistent trainings, meetings, exposure visits, and other technical assistance, the farmers started taking more interest in JIVA, especially after seeing the success of farmers in other places. For example, when we were not successful in establishing pomegranate orchards during the first year of the program, we took interested farmers on an exposure visit to a pomegranate producing area in Gujarat. After the visit, the farmers believed the JIVA staff and were willing to plant pomegranate with technical guidance. In order to increase the farmers’ commitment, they invested 50 percent of the cost of the pomegranate seedlings. Although drought during the third year and flooding during the fourth year have made it difficult, the pomegranate initiative has been successful.
“I like and enjoy the teamwork approach of JIVA, which keeps me committed to this project. I feel good to see the increased level of confidence among the farmers and increased respect for JIVA.”
— PURSHOTTAM JANGID
Training farmers and facilitating crop diversification has been very successful and has improved farmers’ income. Now, JIVA is engaged in increasing villagers’ incomes by maintaining transparency, keeping regular contact with the farmers, and seeking their active participation. More focus is given to need-based activities, and we are gradually increasing the monetary commitment of the farmers. Inter-JIVA village exposure visits are conducted, and the farmers’ level of engagement is increasing. I like and enjoy the teamwork approach of JIVA, which keeps me committed to this project. I feel good to see the increased level of confidence among the farmers and increased respect for JIVA. The JIVA staff and the farmers are also very satisfied with the work done so far and with the level of farmer participation.