Self-Reliant Initiatives through Joint Action

Our Livelihoods Promotion Model

There are five essential components of SRIJAN’s field programmes of livelihoods promotion, namely,

  • To improve access to water and its management, and to improve soil health;
  • To bring appropriate technology for the poor;
  • To improve access to markets and consumers;
  • To improve access to finance; and
  • To build a community institution with a special focus on women, that has management capacity.


According to a recent survey, 44 per cent of farmers would like to leave farming as a livelihood option. The farmers will have to come out of the cycle of traditional cereal crops to diversify their farming systems to adopt more remunerative horticulture and medicinal plants.

Horticulture has brought a new wave in agriculture, but several inhibiting factors affecting the growth in this sector are- the absence of knowledge [What to do?], technology [How to do?], and an enabling environment [Are resources on tap?].

SRIJAN’s Response

With the aim to establish a value chain and viable market linkages for the poor SRIJAN initiated the horticulture programme in three locations- Ichhawar, Tikamgarh and Anuppur in 2007.
We implement a nano-orchard model of multi-species fruit plants (mango and pomegranate) with intercropping of chilli. The ‘nano’ or small size orchard model is of half or less than half acre so that resource-poor farmers can easily opt for it without any threat to their food-security. Taking into consideration the scarcity of water during peak summer months we promote drip-based irrigation.


In three years, we have promoted this programme with 400 farmers across 38 villages. Total area under plantation is 117 acres in their orchard they have 2,100 mango plants with survival percentage of 77% and 6,000 pomegranate plants with survival percentage of 65%.

Short-term incomes have come from chilli and efforts were made to sell produce collectively in the market. Total green chilli sold this year is 781 quintals and red chilli- 86 quintals that generated the total revenue worth 14 lakh rupees. Efforts have been made to establish village managing committees acting as primary collection centres.
Partners and Supporters
At present, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust supports this programme at three location- Ichhawar, Tikamgarh, and Anuppur (all in M.P).

New Plans

Recently, Wadi programme has been started with the support from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development at Chhindwara (Madhya Pradesh). Here we plan to start with promotion of organic horticulture programme among the farmers.

Self Help Groups


Seventy percent of the rural poor do not have a bank account and eighty seven percent have no access to credit from a formal source (World Band-NCAER survey), which force them to seek money from informal sources (local moneylenders) at exorbitant interest rates. Women suffer more in this scenario due to the traditional-patriarchal societies that lay them hapless when it comes to decision-making regarding financial matters.

SRIJAN’s Response

Promotion of Self Help Group, having a membership of 10-15 women, is the foundation for our pro-poor, pro-women, member centric institutional structure. Further linkage and integration with livelihoods and/or water resources can make these groups and federations a very powerful self-reliant institution.

In our view, it is an aid to build institutions of the poor (women in particular) linked with a livelihood promotion model so that it could act as a wealth creation mechanism for its members.


Total savings of 1,005 SHGs covering over 11,000 members is about Rs.9.5 million while inter-loaning is close to Rs.15 million. SRIJAN has also received Rs.16.5 million to promote microfinance activities. Till now, over 2,500 families have availed this facility.

Partners and Supporters

Initial program was supported by DFID funded Poorest Area Civil Society (PACS) in Vidisha and Tikamgarh and DPIP in Duni and Jaisinagar (M.P). Microfinance activities are supported by fund received from Mr. Ramesh Dewan and Mr. Sharad Gupta. Currently, Government of M.P under the Tejaswini Project in Tikamgarh and NABARD in Lakheri (Rajasthan) support this program.

New Plans

We have started our new location in Pali (Rajasthan) with the initial work of SHG formation.


Challenge of Livestock based Livelihoods

Marginal and small farmers own two-thirds of cattle and buffaloes in India (NSS Report 493, 2002-03). Thus about 40 million rural poor families rear large milch animals to generate supplementary income or nutrition. Landless and land scarce families own most of the small animals, poultry, and pigs. Most of these families live in dry land geographies.
Livelihoods promotion in the livestock sector faces a unique challenge of poor breed with low productivity, traditional rearing skills, absence of veterinary services, scattered population and distant markets.

State government run dairy programs are restricted to a few districts, often well endowed with natural resources, and benefit mostly medium and large male farmers. Given their commercial objectives, they have primarily adopted a model, “Where there is milk, let us market.” In MP, the milk production volume hasn’t witnessed any growth.

SRIJAN’s Response

Since 2006, SRIJAN has promoted a dairy program in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, benefiting 1800 poor women. Six hundred poor women in Jaisinagar, the poorest block of Sagar district have become members of our dairy program. SRIJAN has reached 1200 poor women in 60 villages of Deoli block in Tonk district in Rajasthan.


Total cumulative sale of milk in approximately three and a half years of operations, as on February 2010, was three crore of rupees (US$650,000). Out of this 86 per cent was transferred to the milk pourers, much higher the industrial standard. Price per litre realized from the market has been steadily increasing, currently Rs. 17 in Tonk, and Rs. 19 in Sagar (starting at Rs. 8 in 2006).

In both these locations we have been able to build the base for women- led community institution. In Madhya Pradesh, Sagar Shree Mahila Producer Company Ltd has been registered under the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2002 and in Rajasthan, SHG federation, Maitree, is registered under Societies’ Act.

New Plans

With initial success in dairy in two locations, SRIJAN is planning to expand its work to new clusters within the existing districts and neighboring districts.

A new dairy cluster is being planned in Tonk; and in Vidisha, MP, we are planning to take up Micro-Finance led dairy business.

Partners and Support

Individual assets have been built with the help of World Bank Funded, District Poverty Initiative Project (DPIP). American India Foundation (AIF) and Sir Ratan Tata Trust (SRTT) are key supporters of our dairy program.

Challenges Ahead

Enhancing animal productivity in semi-arid and resource poor areas continues to be a challenge. Dealing with the intricacies of market needs creative solutions when it comes to linking the poor with little surplus milk.

Maitree Dairy

SRIJAN is working in 60 villages of Deoli block in Tonk district (Rajasthan, India) since 2003. These villages don’t get the canal irrigation from Bisalpur dam that many other villages in this semi-arid Tonk district do. For their agriculture, the farmers depend on rainfall – annual average rainfall is 640 mm, but it is erratic – growing millets in summer (monsoon) and Bengal gram and wheat, and mustard in winter. Community has built tanks for storing rainwater. Other sources of livelihoods are wage labour in quarries, carpet weaving, and animal rearing. About 20% of the population migrates to cities.

In 2006, the women’s organization, named Maitree, of cluster of 60 villages around Duni decided to go for dairy in a big way, supported by a project of Government of Rajasthan (see the diagram of people’s institution). Not all of them would have kept a buffalo, or even a cow, leave alone an improved breed like a Graded Murrah from Haryana. Yet, there were many reasons going in its favour: (i) it is a natural occupation for women – they have some traditional skills and they could interweave it with their work at home and farm; (ii) although inter-dependent on farming, marginal farmers can also adopt it, with grass from common pastures and nutritious feed available in the market; (iii) starting up is easy, just with one buffalo, and more can be added, as per convenience and capacity of the family; (iv) milk at home enhances nutrition availability for children; and (v) marketing of surplus milk is easy with traditional milkmen procuring from the village itself, although at exploitative terms.

DPIP Rajasthan, a World Bank aided project, provided subsidized family assets. Maitree members purchased 2440 buffaloes of improved breed – at an investment of Rs 3.27 crore or $ 0.8 million. They contributed in cash twenty percent of the cost of animals. Further investment in value chain in form of bulk coolers, working capital, and training in improved animal husbandry practices has come in from private trusts and donations.

Sagar Shree

In Madhya Pradesh, SRIJAN is promoting dairy in one of the poorest blocks of Sagar district. We are able to reach 600 poor families in 30 villages of Jaisinagar. DPIP Madhya Pradesh, a World Bank supported government project, helped them get an additional buffalo, where they had to give a contribution of 15 per cent.

SRIJAN team’s goal was to make the facility of milk marketing available to larger number of poor people in larger number of villages. It was found that there were many villages that poured less than 40 litres of milk a day. It was essential to establish a milk route that could collect larger quantum of milk yet cost less to transport (per litre of milk). On sales front, the Sagar retail market turned out to be more profitable than catering to Madhya Pradesh Dugdha Sangh, the government dairy, in Jabalpur (8 hours away by road).

Significantly, the community institution was legally registered, as Sagar Shree Mahila Producer Company Limited and it became a formal entity to sell the milk.

In last three and half years, up to February 2010, Sagar Shree has marketed 550,000 litres of milk and has generated revenue worth Rs 9.45 million directly from the market. It has transferred 81 % of the total amount, which is Rs 16,234,762 to its poor members in the interior villages of Jaisinagar and Deoli. Although Sagar Shree has made a slight loss of 4.8 per cent, poor milk producers have steadily got a better price – 15.2 rupees per litre in 2009-10 (Rs. 12.4 in 2007-08).
Sagar Shree is being supported by Department of Rural Development, Government of Madhya Pradesh and American India Foundation.

Water Resources Management

Around sixty percent of India’s population is based on agriculture and irrigation is essential for food security as well as livelihood.

The Government has done a lot of investment but little has been done in terms of promotion of efficient and judicious use of water resources.

SRIJAN’s Response

SRIJAN’s approach to water management seeks remedy the malady that afflicts a majority of the water project in India. They primarily work on the supply side, aiming to make greater volume of water available, assuming that the people can manage distribution issues. There is a little attempt at “managing escalating and competing water demands.” It is this aspect that SRIJAN has tried to focus on through its work.


To address the issue of equity and sustainability, we strengthen informal smaller scale water management institutions:

  • Farmer’s participation is enhanced through Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) in the Samrat Ashok Sagar Dam where we supported 10 Water User Groups covering 10,268 hectares and 84 villages reaching 5,511 beneficiaries in Vidisha
  • We have enhanced water availability by renovation of older structure such as Chandeli Taals reaching 400 families in Tikamgarh
  • Similarly, in Kolar (Karnataka) SRIJAN developed in partnership with the community an integrated Tank Development Plan that aimed to rehabilitate these tanks and make them beneficial to the community once again
  • There are two ongoing watershed based livelihood projects in Ichhawar and Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. In both these locations, we have supported the formation of over 200 Water User Groups creating 238 Ha-m of water storage that irrigates over 1000 hectares reaching 4082 beneficiaries.

Overall, SRIJAN has been able to reach over 10,000 families under the Water Resource Management Programme.

Partners and Supporters

Our partners in the past include DPIP and World Bank (Tikamgarh); Jal Samvardene Yojana supported by Government of Karnataka, funded by World Bank (Kolar).

Currently, ITC supports the Watershed programme in Ichhawar and Chhindwara.


Despite 70 per cent of the population being engaged in agriculture and allied activities, declining foodgrains production and lack of food security remain the two biggest problems confronting our country. Slow growth in this sector is also visible in terms of the growing distress among the rural farming community.

SRIJAN’s Response

Our approach is to carry out crop productivity enhancement programme by means of helping the farmers to identify and analyse their crop production problems, and become aware about the opportunities for improving. The main focus under this intervention is on awareness generation and purposive transfer of skills.


At present, Description of various programmes under the Crop Productivity Enhancement theme are enumerate below:

Soy Samriddhi Initiative

The project began in 2008 with 55 farmers in the villages around Lakheri town of Bundi district with the aim to meet out the socio-economic challenges that poor and small farmers are facing. SRIJAN is working on productivity and profitability enhancement through Soybean. On the other hand, we are also promoting community institutions and linkages with institutional credit to meet the credit needs of these farmers.
In the year 2009-10, Soy Samriddhi reached 678 farmers covering 36 villages. Cost benefit and yield analysis was done for 673 was done to assess the effectiveness of our strategies.

Despite delayed monsoon and poor rainfall in the project region (53% less than normal), Soy Samriddhi farmers got 47% higher average yield than other farmers. Average yield per hectare was 1.3 ton/ha in comparison to 0.84 ton/ha in the district. Total acreage was 392 hectare and total production was 495.7 tons.

System of Rice Intensification

The SRI programme started in 2007 Shiggoan block of Haveri district (Karnataka). Till now we have reached over 600 farmers across 25 villages.

In the begining the team was facing difficulties to convince the farmers about SRI adoption. Because SRI is a new concept in this area. The team tried to motivate the farmers by using strategies such as external expoures, trainings, regular village meetings, etc to adopt SRI in larger area.

The overall the impact from the plots seem quite promising with 52% incremental increase in production and now the biggest challenge in front of us is to design low-cost SRI model for rain fed small and marginal farmers and reach 10,000 families through SRI.

Promoting Ragi Cultivation

To bridge the gaps around livelihood security and capacity building of women in small and marginal families a new initiative was started with support from SRTT in 2007 namely, “Strengthening Community Institutions for Water-Livelihoods Management in Malur Taluka of Kolar District, Karnataka”.

This project has been promoting improved package of practices of ragi (finger millet) for livelihood and food security of the small and marginal farmers under rain-fed condition apart from formation and strengthening the community institutions in the tank command villages .

In the year 2008-09 we reached 191 farmers across 27 villages.

Crop Productivity Enhancement (supported by ATMA)

In June 2009 project supported by ATMA was started to support the poor and marginal farmers for increasing their crop production through effective extension of agriculture technology in 5 locations in M.P namely, Sehore, Tikamgarh, Vidisha, Raisen, Sagar and Chhindwara. It also aimed at identifying improved practices and it’s dissemination among the farmers especially focusing on women by forming SHGs.

The basic model was developed based on Farmer Field School which is based on group approach, where a demo of 2.5 will be demonstrated (master trainer/farmer) to 25 student farmer (from different villages) who will learn the same practices and will apply in their own field and filter down to their own villages.

Till date, we have facilitated the formation of 14 farmer field schools with an outreach of over 750 farmers in these 6 blocks.

Partners and Supporters

Our partners include- Bunge (Lakheri, Rajasthan), Deshpande Foundation (Haveri District, Karnataka), Sir Ratan Tata Trust (Kolar, Karnataka) and Directorate of Farmer Welfare and Agriculture Development under ATMA (Ichhawar, Vidisha, Sagar, Tikamgarh and Chhindwara, in Madhya Pradesh).

New Plans

We are working on development of a standard package of practices on Maize productivity enhancement in Pali district of Rajasthan.

Promotion of Community Organizations

There are 167 SHGs with a membership of 2030 families in Deoli. While forming Maitree, leaders felt the need to gain bargaining power in the dairy market as well as establish credit linkage with banks, apart from the feeling of solidarity. They have run the dairy business for over two years now and women leadership is taking over roles of managing MCC secretaries and staff in the bulkchilling unit.

In Jaisinagar, federation of SHGs has led to registration of a producer company of Sagar Shree Producer Company under the Indian Companies Act. This is the first legally registered people’s institution set up by SRIJAN. Accounts have been audited.Formation of Jeevika in Jatara block was conceived as an organization that can help economize the cost of purchase of inputs and sale of output while also providing extension inputs. Now with close to 4600 women members in the SHGs, it is planned that Jeevika slowly is managed by SHG leadership and becomes the base also for market linkage for horticulture farms.

Our Location

Head Office

Volunteering Opportunity

We would welcome if you could contribute by giving your time and sharing your knowledge and skills. While you will transfer your knowledge to rural community, you will gain an insight on development issues, besides the pleasure of living and interacting with the people of different culture and with different level of resources.

As a volunteer you have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of the people and your commitment can also inspire others to join in.


To become a volunteer you should possess the following qualities:

A) Personal
  • Strong commitment to volunteering
  • Ability to work in multi-cultural rural environment
  • Ability to understand, learn and speak new language/dialect
  • Ability to cope with “not so comfortable” living conditions
  • Good interpersonal skills
B) Professional
  • University degree from a reputed institute
  • Working knowledge of Hindi as well as English

Conditions of Service

Volunteers can be placed in any of the field locations that SRIJAN is currently working in.For more details you can send in your CVs at along with a cover letter describing why would you like to volunteer with our organisation and the duration (time period that you would like to work with us).

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