India: an agricultural chain (2006-2012)
CESCI Organics: Center for Experiencing Socio Cultural Interaction
Duration: September 2006 to present (end of the first phase: May 2009)
Project region: India, Tamil Nadu, Nagapattinam district, Pr Puram village, Keelaiyur block
Aim: Reinforce the local populations’ capacity to work towards their own emancipation and improve the environment and the local villagers’ living conditions by:
• Creating a model training center for organic agricultural techniques
• Creating an agricultural cooperative for food processing
Beneficiaries: 7 villages
Course of action:
• Leadership and awareness training
• Agricultural and other professional training
• Creation of an agricultural techniques training center
An agricultural chain:
• Agribusiness training
• Converting parcels to organic agriculture
• Creating jobs in food processing
• Creating a relationship between the organic farmers and the markets
Ekta Parishad Tamil Nadu has developed its interventions on the subjects of awareness and support to the local populations’ economic initiatives and aims to politically mobilize the rural populations in order to defend their rights, first and foremost their right to land acess, all over India. Situated in a coastal area on the Bay of Bengal which was severely affected by the tsunami in 2004, this center was first created to reinforce the projects that Ekta Parishad had put in place immediately after the tsunami.
For lack of knowledge and training, the local farmers cultivate traditional products (rice, vegetables, mangos, coconuts, peanuts, cashews, and tamarin) and sell them directly to the traders without any processing at a very low price. The products are then processed and sold at the local markets for three times the cost price.
It was therefore necessary, in the first phase of the project, to train the young farmers, especially in organic agriculture techniques, after which the project worked to create and support a food processing unit in order to create a long term revenue flow.
FOCUS: the food processing unit (2nd phase of the project)
The unit has two rooms: one for the machines (1 huller, 1 blender and 1 filtration machine) which are necessary to transform local products and to store them.
The production is purchased directly for the local farmers and then transformed with the use of oil. The products can then be used or sold:
• For cooking or consumption (peanuts, sesame, coconuts)
• For animal consumption
• To create medicinal or beauty products (neem soap)
• For agriculture as natural fertilizer (neem)
• The pastes that are obtained can also be used as natural fertilizer
The farmers can also filter their own harvests for personal consumption at a low cost (mostly sesame and coconut). Each day, 7 to 10 people or organizations use the unit to press their oil. At the peak of the season, they hire two women and a man as seasonal workers. Each sale brings in on average 20 euros with a minimum profit of 2 euros (for example, 12 liters of oil sold at 1.15 euros per liter or 20kg of peanut paste sold at 0.50 euros per kilogram)
The campus has gone green
Trees have been cut in order to make room for certain plants. 10,000 plants will therefore be distributed to school children and to local schools. The goal is to boost the children’s awareness of subjects such as environment, pollution and the importance of natural resources (land and nature). They will develop an ecological consciousness and learn agricultural techniques as well. In training these children outside their traditional schooling, it will give them a unique quality. 2,500 plants will also be given to the Pr Puram village in order to promote the environmental projects of CESCI Organics.
For the past year, the team at CESCI Organics has been working to provide good quality seeds to the local farmers, but the task is difficult. They will therefore create a small seed production unit (neem, peanuts, etc.)
Max, an intern in 2010 at the IITPD via SOLDIARITÉ, worked on a study for CESCI Organics.
Results of the first phase:
Village reorganization: leadership training
319 young adults were trained in and informed about subjects such as non-violence, environment, equality between the sexes, and “Shramaghan” activites (cleaning public spaces, tree planting, etc.) in order to motivate them to work together. A delegation from each village participated in the Janadesh march and will participate in the Jansatyagraha march.
12 groups of farmers were trained (207 small farmers from the 7 villages which belong to 4 panchayats).
220 farmers were trained in different organic agriculture techniques
2000 trees were planted
Professional training in traditional activities
97 young women were trained in sewing and 90 women were trained in soap fabrication.
An agricultural chain: Agribusiness Training
60 farmers were trained
Parcels were changed to become organic – with the local partner LAFTI1
76 acres of land were obtained by the government and 98 women “dalit” benefited from them.
211 acres of land were used for organic agriculture.
2.25 km of dykes were constructed making 60% of the land used or usable.
85 farmers were trained and became organic farmers and now use vermicompost.
Commercial relationships were created, for example between farmers and organic produce vendors (organic peanuts, coconut oil, natural fertilizers such as “Panchagavia” and the vermicompost).
Certain farmers now have a 10% increase in their sales.
CESCI Organics was created, and inaugurated in November 2008.
Local partner: Ekta Parishad- Tamil Nadu