Citizens' Issues
Climate-resilient farming model in Pune wins Equator Prize
Till 2012, 60-year-old Vanita Sahebrao More used to spend Rs 40,000 every year to cultivate soybean, sorghum and cotton on seven acres of land in her village in drought-prone Nanded district in Maharashtra. The district is part of Marathwada, infamous for crippling droughts and farmer suicides.
 
Vanita's husband was working in a sugarcane factory, which left the responsibility of managing the farm entirely on her. She used to grow some vegetables and pulses as well but all of this came at a hefty cost as she was totally dependent on chemical inputs and seeds purchased from the market. Moreover, she used to allocate two acres of land just for growing cotton.
 
Focusing on the cash crop meant that those two acres remained underutilised in terms of farming capacity as the crop blocks the fields for a whole year. Neither she nor her family had an alternate means of livelihood to ensure steady income during adverse climatic conditions and changing market scenarios in the rain-deficient land.
 
This changed five years ago when she adopted the so-called one-acre model, an innovative way of practising climate-resilient agriculture. Starting off with half an acre, she today manages around 3.5 acres of land and cultivates vegetables, wheat, pulses and turmeric with 100 per cent organic inputs.
 
Instead of the traditional approach of focusing on cash crops, Vanita has been trained to put the nutritional needs of the family first. She grows mainly food crops for the family's consumption, crucial during the far-too-common drought years. She sells the surplus in the market, which fetches Rs 45,000.
 
Vanita is one of the 72,000 women farmers in Marathwada whose lives have been transformed by Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), a Pune-based non-profit that is empowering women to take up sustainable farming practices and effectively manage available natural resources to derive benefits such as continuous income, better health, food and water security in the region.
 
For its efforts to help women farmers to cope better during extreme events, SSP is among the 15 winners selected for this year's Equator Prize by the UNDP. The initiative that began in 2009 to promote a climate-resilient agro-ecological farming model and entrepreneurship has empowered over 20,000 women farmers to act as decision-makers in the area in the last two years alone.
 
It goes a step further. Engaging at the nexus of nutrition, sustainable agriculture and gender, the initiative has created 5,500 self-help groups that support women to engage as farmers, entrepreneurs and leaders. The programme trains them to negotiate with their families to obtain their own plot of land for cultivation, usually about one acre each. "After being trained by SSP, I began farming on half an acre of land in 2012. But elated with the incredible results, my husband gave me legal land rights for 3.5 acres," says Vanita.
 
Under the one-acre model, multiple crops are grown to boost nutritional security, soil fertility, agro-biodiversity and income viability. Women who run family kitchens and raise children understand the nutritional requirements of their family better than men, a reason why this programme is specifically for women.
 
"Men tend to focus on cash crops to generate income, while women understand the nutritional needs of the family and it is important that they make decisions on which crops to grow to ensure that food is available for family consumption during any crisis while generating income at the same time," says Anjali Verma, Programme Manager, SSP.
 
In Marathwada, where hundreds of farmers have committed suicide during five consecutive drought years, life gets tougher for women who are left to look after their families. "If you see the suicide cases, it is always the men who quit," says Verma. "For women, quitting is not an option. They fight for their families till the end."
 
"Marathwada is not just about farmers' suicide," says Shaila Narore, another woman farmer from Marathwada who has benefitted from the programme. "It is also about people like us who have challenged drought and destiny."
 
Under the model, low-input sustainable farming techniques including efficient water use, organic farming, mixed cropping, and increased crop cycles are adopted to enable the women to improve food security, increase climate resilience, enhance agro-biodiversity and reduce stress on water resources.
 
"This model addresses the issues of food security, income security, natural resource management and women empowerment, all at the same time," says Prema Gopalan, Executive Director, SSP.
 
Under the one-acre model, women are also trained in other means of livelihood and sources of nutrition such as livestock and poultry. With the integration of livestock, Vanita has also eliminated a big chunk of the farm input costs which earlier amounted to almost 30 per cent of the net earnings.
 
The model is now being scaled up in 600 villages to develop a cadre of trained women farmers who will act as resource people and reach out to support other women farmers. "We are working towards forming farmer producer cooperatives for women… producer groups led by women who can claim space in that market," says Verma.
 
The 15 winners of this year's Equator Prize have been selected from a pool of 806 nominations across 120 countries. Each winner will receive $10,000 and the opportunity for a community representative to join a weeklong summit in New York during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.
 
SSP has come as a ray of hope in the Marathwada region which is known as the suicide capital of the country. It is providing a space for local women to create their own development solutions and play a pivotal role in bringing sustainable change.
 
More is also embarking on the journey of personal and professional growth. At the age of 60, she has got a licence to drive a small truck. She now looks forward to transporting her farm produce from Nanded to other parts of the country.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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When Divorce Doth Us Part… With the Cash
The miya-bibi takrar is a never ending serial, everywhere, all the time—from our plumber to Hollywood movie stars, from one-night stands to live-in relations, humble zoppadpattis to the palatial bungalows. But the bottom-line is invariably money.
 
The march to court is always on a carpet of indignation and acrimony. Roses that bloomed yesterday are shredded today, shorn of fragrance; exposed thorns growing deadlier by the day. It is always a pathetic sight.
 
Scene 1: Display of love for the child. Usually, only one child is involved, the sourness having overflowed in the first couple of years. The author’s take on this is that both parties realise that neither is growing any younger; and one makes hay while the sun shines. Thence, the sense of urgency.
 
Deep down, there is a calculating machine, whirring away. If grapes and sugarcane can be squeezed dry, why not put the spouse through the wringer? Hindu law is very egalitarian in this respect. The ‘broke’ husband can ask for alimony from the moneyed wife. It’s true; it’s the law, since 1956. Mostly, that is not the case.
 
While there is never a specific claim of a virgin birth, or, of a single-cell fission reproduction, the art of claiming possession of ‘MY child’ throws up ingenious arguments. Often, the judge talks to the child, in chambers usually, to determine what is best for the kid. While some communities have built-in mechanisms favouring the mother, many considerations are juggled around. One side wins, the other side loses. A Solomon has to come to judgement.
 
When wrangling over the custody of ‘MY child’ is over, the bargaining starts. How much? When? Why so little? Why so much? Is it fair to ME? 
 
What is the right amount to give and to take? There are no fixed scientific formulae. Judicial decisions weigh a number of factors, ranging from assets, income, style of living, age, health, number of dependants from the marriage, age of the children and their educational prospects. It’s always a tough call.
 
We advise clients to work out a fixed lump-sum amount. Warring spouses need not see each other again; especially over money, whence most battles start. The giver always demurs. Hides the assets; a criminality. Or fakes inability. The other side conjures up Herculean burdens. Ingenious excuses meet hardened counter-points. If a clean break is arrived at, excellent. If not? Maintenance payment is the answer.
 
Pre-Modi, milk was available at Rs48. Three years later, one pays Rs62. Had the learned judge factored that in? Children survive on milk, insists the custodian spouse. There must be a mechanism to compensate me: “I need more money.” Unfortunately, it’s always money. The other party cites the sanctity of a contract. 
 
Equity is a fantastic judicial tool. Some may call it an escape mechanism, others, a fudge. Even a favour. We call it a call to common sense. But does common sense have a place in law, when most think of the law as an ass?
 
Greek law has some fine pointers in such matters. A Section on family law reads: “Irrespective of the provisions of paragraph (1) the amount of child support is automatically increased by 10% every 24 months…”
 
A divorced mother sought increased funds. The ‘ex’ balked. He brought in his constitutional right to be heard; that is, heard again. He relied on the latter part of the law which said “...The Court may, following an application made by the person liable to provide child support, order that this automatic increase shall not apply and/or that the increase is restricted.”
 
You be the judge. Would you side with the mother or the father? 
 
The court, by an eight to four majority, stood up for the mother, rejecting the argument of unconstitutionality. The problem is that the law is badly drafted. But such mundane deliberations are of no use to the litigants, who want straight answers. That means that the 10% increase is justified, but disputable. WOW! 

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Citizens Whistle Blowers Forum requests action against PricewaterhouseCoopers
Delhi-based Citizens Whistle Blowers Forum (CWBF) has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to take immediate action against PricewaterhouseCoopers India Pvt Ltd (PwC) for allegedly posing threat to national interests.
 
CWBF, in a release says, "A number of highly disconcerting issues involving PwC, which pose serious threat to national interests, safety of investments of common man, result in significant losses to the public exchequer and which expose lack of efficacy of controls in the banking system have come to the notice of the CWBF. Further PwC has been found guilty of criminal acts by the Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) and by the Special CBI Court. Despite this, PwC is being rewarded with significant government business including those where there are direct conflicts of interest."
 
The Forum is headed by Justice AP Shah, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court with Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan as its Member Secretary. Other members of the Forum include Prof Aruna Roy, former Finance Secretary EAS Sarma, Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, Admiral Lara Ramdas and Wajahat Habibullah, former Chief Election Commissioner. 
 
 

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COMMENTS

Vaibhav Dhoka

4 months ago

It is rightly said that Finance minister should have initiated action but our PM said and lashed at ICAI for not taking disciplinary action on erring CAs overlooking PWC where action should have initiated long back.Catching petty CA is no great.

A BANERJEE

4 months ago

As rightly stated in the article and worth quoting: "...PwC has been found guilty of criminal acts by the Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) and by the Special CBI Court. Despite this, PwC is being rewarded with significant government business including those where there are direct conflicts of interest." It is indeed strange and shocking that a group of eminent citizens should take up the issue with FM who ought to have taken necessary action in this regard on his own. And, this happens during a nationalistic dispensation! Will the PM take this matter up in the interest of the country?

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