The agriculture sector is vital to the economy of the country and more so for the state of Bihar. Bihar's agriculture sector employs more than 80% of the labor force and more than four-fifths of these farmers are small and marginal. They have one of the lowest agricultural productivity in India that has not increased due to several constraints.
JEEViKA has piloted, customized and eventually scaled up several agriculture interventions with the objective of enhancing productivity and/or reducing per unit expenditure in a sustainable and environment friendly manner. A cross cutting feature of all the agriculture interventions is the provision of a package of services namely credit, extension and aggregate procurement of inputs to small and marginal farmers at their doorstep through the institutional platform created by JEEViKA. A unique feature of the intervention is that the extension system is community-managed and community-owned leading to local capacity building. Also community farm field schools have played a major role in transferring peer learnings as well as experimentation of the technology. The interventions include the System of Root Intensification (SRI) to improve productivity in nearly 20 crops (including cereals, pulses, oilseed, vegetables) and Zero Budget Natural Farming and currently reach out to nearly 200,000 small holders. A recent note, based on various independent studies commissioned by the project and internal data sources, has conservatively estimated that the small and marginal farmers that have adopted SRI have witnessed a productivity increase of 86% in rice and 72% in wheat. Most importantly the System of Root iIntensification has been adopted as a state policy by the state government.
Going forward, JEEViKA will continue supporting innovations in small-holder agriculture and seeks out opportunities in areas such as - improved crop productivity/production methods; climate smart and sustainable agricultural practices; community based technology extension; local level value addition; post harvest management; processing; better access to markets through linkages with public, private and cooperative sectors; inclusive business models for small and marginal farmers in high growth value chains through public-private-community partnerships etc. JEEViKA will continue to focus on cereals, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables, medicinal and aromatic plants etc. for the productivity and income increase of the smallholders. The smallholders will be aggregated to Producers’ Group at village level and Producers’ Company at the district level to provide production and marketing support.