The agricultural sector is a central pillar of the Indian economy, employing 60 percent of the nation’s workforce and contributing to about 17 percent of its GDP. Productivity remains a challenge, however, and poverty and malnutrition in rural areas remain high. Water shortages, a changing climate, and fragmented land holdings make it difficult for millions of smallholder farmers to feed their families, much less earn a profit from their labor.
In line with the priorities of India’s central and state governments, we focus on three strategic goals to enable India’s agricultural transformation and ensure that the transformation is inclusive:
- Increase agricultural productivity and household income for smallholder farmers.
- Enable equitable consumption of safe, affordable, and nutritious diets year-round.
- Advance women’s empowerment in the agricultural sector.
With these goals in mind, we have three models of engagement:
- Advancing inclusive agricultural transformation in partnership with the central government and state governments, particularly in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Odisha
- Engaging in promising opportunities for state-to-state learning by testing innovative technologies, tools, systems, and approaches
- Providing responsive and targeted regional support to further inclusive agricultural transformation across the region
JEEViKA Special Purpose Vehicle for Agricultural Transformation (JSPVAT)
JSPVAT, a program initiated in 2020 to support the Bihar state government’s rural livelihoods project, JEEViKA, aims to diversify and enhance household incomes and improve nutrition and sanitation for tens of thousands of farming households. JSPVAT has already facilitated an important systems-level partnership between JEEViKA and the World Bank to strengthen the agricultural and livestock market ecosystems in Bihar.
Reaching 50,000 farmers, JSPVAT’s work includes catalyzing key institutional changes to support market linkages and testing innovative private-sector models and approaches for inclusive agricultural transformation. The latter includes digital solutions related to procurement, quality testing, and access to finance and technologies, with farmer producer companies serving as a point for engagement with smallholder farmers. JSPVAT has also designed and supported implementation of interventions to strengthen market ecosystems for fruits, vegetables, high-value crops, and livestock.
In the very first year, smallholder farmers supported by JEEViKA and JSPVAT engaged in expanded trade with institutional buyers of maize (more than 3,610 metric tons) and fruits and vegetables (210 metric tons) and procured a greater amount of agricultural inputs (more than 220 metric tons). JSPVAT introduced derivative trading on the NCDEX platform, enabling farmers to realize prices 6 to 8 percent higher than before. JSPVAT also facilitated access to public funding for participating farmer collectives—among the first such instances in the country.
In its first year, JSPVAT reached 7.5 million rural women from poor and marginalized-caste households through self-help groups formed under JEEViKA. This has expanded their access to financial services, value chains in the agriculture and nonfarm sectors, and nutrition and sanitation services.
ADAPT is a partnership between the foundation, the Government of Odisha, and the consulting firm Samagra that helps the state government make data-informed policy decisions related to agriculture. ADAPT helps farmers across Odisha increase their agricultural productivity by streamlining the supply chain of raw materials, providing pest and weather advisory services, and delivering information about markets and modern technology. The ADAPT team also works with the state government to design and implement the state’s flagship KALIA scheme, which provides livelihood assistance to smallholder and marginalized farmers across the state.
The ADAPT Dashboard integrates agricultural data from multiple databases into a single online portal so government officials can preempt challenges and respond effectively to farmer needs. ADAPT public messaging campaigns and extension workers provide advisory services and bring information on seed treatment, soil health, irrigation, and insurance to farmers. The benefits of ADAPT led the state government to call for expansion in 2020 to the livestock and fisheries sectors. Along with the dashboard, a mobile app called SAFAL digitizes all of the activities conducted by ADAPT field staff and extension workers to enable real-time monitoring and accountability. To ensure sustainability of the initiative, the state government has allocated resources for technology, building managerial capacity, and creating an ADAPT office staffed by its own officials to maintain and further develop the platform.
Partnerships for Women's Empowerment and Rights (POWER)
POWER, a five-year, multi-stakeholder project initiated in 2013, worked to improve the lives and livelihoods of more than 1.7 million people in rural Indian communities, primarily in the states of Odisha and Jharkhand. Its priorities included expanding access to clean drinking water, household-level toilet and bathing facilities, and hygiene education.
Outcomes of the POWER project have included:
- Community mobilization to reach all households in six districts of Odisha and Jharkand with the program’s products and services
- Formation of village committees and creation of a capital fund
- Training of daily wage earners as masons and plumbers to help build village sanitation infrastructure
- Construction of individual toilets and bathing rooms and a water tank and water distribution system in each village cluster
- The linking of village committees with local government institutions
- Increased capacity of village committees to operate, maintain, and sustain the sanitation infrastructure
- Increased capacity of women and other marginalized groups to take part in village decision-making
POWER achieved its target of raising the average annual household income of 350,000 farming households by 15,000 rupees (US$207) over five years (2014–2019).
Seven livelihood initiatives arising from POWER have been scaled up by governments in Odisha and Jharkand. For example, POWER took the agricultural production cluster model piloted by the nonprofit organization PRADAN in Jharkhand and implemented it in a few districts of Odisha, showing the potential of market-oriented farming. Encouraged by the evidence, the government of Odisha scaled this up to 100,000 farmers in 12 districts.