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Climate Smart Sustainable Agriculture

The single largest problem affecting the people of Anantapur for centuries is Drought. The district frequently experiences severe and consecutive drought conditions and repeated crop failures. The past decade and a half has experienced 12 droughts of different degrees, from severe to moderate, resulting in complete crop failure to low productivity. The droughts occurred typically due to prolonged dry spells during the rainfed crop-season i.e., June and November. High cost of cultivation, environment degradation and inadequate attention from State compounds this perpetual problem many times over. An uncertain climate, erraticism of rains, renders the small farmers highly vulnerable. AF has, over the years, been addressing these problems in a variety of ways.

Institution building

AF has promoted Community Based Organisations (CBOs) that actively participate in planning, monitoring and implementation of the project. Women and men are trained and their capacity built in carrying out their various roles and responsibilities.

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Drought Resilient Cropping Systems

AF has been developing, promoting and popularising drought resilient cropping designs using the principles of symbiosis, agrobiodiversity, drought resilience etc., keeping in view the quality of land and food and nutritional security. These have been done through Farmer Field Schools and promoting perennial Rain-fed Tree Crop Models. AF’s consistent efforts on popularising these regular and contingency models brought in a positive trend with a large number of farmers. More and more farmers have been shifting from groundnut mono-cropping and when the rains were delayed many farmers have gone for contingency cropping.

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Drought Mitigation Technologies & Practices

The central question for farmers in Anantapuram district is how to manage moisture stress and save crops when rains are not timely and delayed. If this question is answered then all other problems are mangeable. For the past few years AF has been looking at this central question in several ways and developing, promoting and popularising various drought mitigation measures. 

During kharif 2015, AF’s preparedness could help in successfully reaching out to over 11,000 farmers and had a very positive impact in an otherwise severe drought year. Further, the Government could be influenced on the importance of contingency cropping for easing fodder crises in a drought year.  

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Piloting Rain fed Farmers’ Cooperatives (RFCs)

A pilot project was initiated last year promoting 7 Rain-fed Farmers’ Cooperatives (RFCs) with 170 farmer members. The objective was to explore how small & marginal rainfed farmers can achieve livelihood security in the drought prone Anantapuram district. The cooperative strategy includes (a) reducing cost of cultivation by encouraging mutual cooperation among the members, (b) enhancing farm productivity by promoting intensive drought mitigation measures, (c)  promoting Sustainable Agriculture practices and (d) diversifying livelihood portfolio to generate additional income of the rainfed farmers by integrating collective farming, off-farm and non-farm livelihood activities on a collective basis. 

These Cooperatives have built up their own capital through small savings and have initiated their own small businesses. AF continues to build their capacities and helping them analyse their initiatives and make forward plans.

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Policy Advocacy and Public Opinion Building

AF, in collaboration with other NGOs, CSOs, progressive writers, cultural groups and farmers’ organisations, has been working on public opinion building and policy advocacy on important issues of Anantapuram district like the water crisis, policies related to rain-fed agriculture, gender, MGNREGS, crop insurance, Community Managed Seed Systems and input subsidy for rain-fed crops including long term issues of drought and desertification in the district.

These activities have gone towards influencing government policies and bringing new schemes to the ground.

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