Diversifying farms

Climate-smart women

Snapshots from Madhya Pradesh, India
On-farm and off-farm diversification help women from Siyalwada village in Madhya Pradesh withstand the shocks of climate change. The Self-Help Groups they have formed equip them financially to diversify their farms.

Hari Bai of Siyalwada village, India. Photo: V Nagasrinivasa Reddy


The challenge

Scenario in 2010
    A single crop a year was the norm in Siyalwada village.
 Water scarcity was a stark reality though the village received abundant rain (mean annual rainfall is 1,050 mm).
 The soil was denuded and depleted of nutrients. During the monsoons, rainwater from the nearby hills rushed down the slopes destroying crops and leaving the soil eroded.
     Migration to neighboring villages in the off-season to work as farm laborers was common.
Lack of education and exposure meant women from the Gond tribe were afraid of interacting with outsiders. Many of them had never travelled beyond their village. The women farmers in this study travelled by train for the first time in 2014, to attend a field day at ICRISAT-India.



puja self-help group

Self-Help Groups played a key role

Socio-economic survey was conducted to identify poor and landless women.

Women were motivated to form Self-Help Groups (SHGs). The groups provided low interest loans allowing the women to invest in diversification of their farms and create more income sources.

Diversification of farms was an integral part of the watershed projects. SHGs played a key role in introducing and implementing various activities such as:

  • Livestock farming
  • Vermicomposting
  • Flour mill/stores
  • Introducing new crops.
Diversifying Farms

Income-Generating Activities


Hari-bai-storyI availed a loan of ₹ 2,000 ($32) from Shiv SHG in 2010, and bought my first goat. I now have ten goats. The goats sell anywhere between ₹ 5,000–9,000 ($81–145) – Hari Bai

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Flour mills & vegetable farming

Sarada-bai-story“Multi-cropping has enhanced my earnings. I first purchased a small mill and later a bigger mill. I earn ₹ 150-200 ($2-3) in a day. I also have a vegetable patch. The crop was good. I sold some in the market for ₹ 20 ($0.31) a kilo and bartered some for wheat. – Sarda Bai

watch video

Diversifying Cropsyield-of-crops

New crops: Rice was grown here for the first time in 2014.

Yearlong farming: Farmers grow cereals and lentils all year round.

Better yield: Cropping intensity increased from 115% to 160%.



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