Swades Foundation empowers villagers with livelihoods that echo the local resources of the community
Published on April 18, 2021 at 6:30 am
Swades Foundation operates with the single-minded focus of empowering rural India. It aims to uplift 1 million people out of poverty every 5 – 6 years through its holistic model of rural
development. The Swades Building Livelihoods initiative ensures every household in rural Raigad
earns a minimum of Rs 2 lakh annually through at least two income sources. Over 20 years of
implementation experience in the geography has enabled the Foundation to support livelihoods
programs serving every section of the rural community. These are activities that are Farm-
Based, Off-Farm, Non-Farm, and Reverse Migration Programs.
The agriculture practiced in Raigad is mostly rainfed as the scarcity of water in the region and soil’s limited water retention capacity puts forward a big challenge for farmers. It limits them to continue farming beyond the monsoons, and farmers are dependent on the paddy crops to sustain their living. As the majority of their produce is for domestic consumption, the income is less. Swades Foundation supports Water for Irrigation (WFI) initiatives and brings land under assured irrigation.WFI enables farmers to grow cash crops in the rabi season and increases the productivity
and survival percentage of existing and recently planted orchards. Under the program, progressive
farmers are trained in advanced agricultural practices and horticulture through exposure visits. Swades supports farmers with samplings and technical training for planting fruit-bearing trees like Sapota, Mango, Cashews, etc. Post three years of nurturance and care, the farmers can augment their family income by INR 600 – 1,000 per tree every year. Swades has transformed 2732.9 acres through drip and flood irrigation, and 929,274 new plants have been distributed for horticulture. 29,018 farmers have been part of the exposure visits and training for new farming technologies.
Off-farm activities include animal husbandry (dairy, poultry, and goat rearing) and fisheries. Dairy farming develops an ecosystem around dairy farming and promotes it as a sustainable livelihood, which creates a steady revenue stream throughout the year. Swades supports farmers
by establishing credit linkages, supply chain management, and ensuring good health and nutrition for the cattle. Poultry and Goat-Rearing are the popular livelihoods opted by the poorest households and single women-headed households for income augmentation. Swades supports aspiring poultry entrepreneurs with 50 birds in one cycle with technical training in management and care of the birds. The entrepreneur ensures to retain at least 10 birds for expansion of herd size. On meeting, this criterion Swades support two more cycles of birds. Once the herd size has increased, the entrepreneur can continue with only technical support from Swades. Similarly, for aspiring goat rearing entrepreneurs, Swades supports one female goat and one heifer for expansion of herd size. The foundation also supports fishers with superior quality fishnets that augment their income by Rs 50 – 60 thousand annually. Swades has created 14,167 entrepreneurs practicing animal husbandry.
To break the cycle of poverty, Swades trains the rural youth in skills that enhance their job readiness and places them in organized sectors. The various trades in which youth receives skill
training are – Accounts Executives, Assistant Electricians, Beauty Therapist, Nursing, Computer
Hardware, and Networking, Data Entry Operator, Debt Recovery, etc. Swades has trained 3,094
youth and placed 2,654 informal employment, and 79% have completed over a year on their jobs.
Organizing Mumbai Committee meetings with migrated villagers, Swades orients them for livelihood opportunities back in their village and assures them continuous mentoring post they migrate back. More than 250 people have migrated back to Raigad and are mentored by team Swades. Swades follows a push vs pull approach for all its initiatives and ensures that the community bears a 10 – 15% cost of the support provided. This ensures community ownership and sustainability of the program.
Mr Mangesh Wange, CEO, Swades Foundation, says, “Swades building livelihoods initiative is one of our big leaps towards the organization’s vision of uplifting 1 million rural population out of poverty every 5 to 6 years. The program offers multiple and sustainable livelihood opportunities to rural communities. These livelihood programs are designed keeping in mind available local resources and geographical context and by involving the community. Our strategy is designed to create pull-through engagement and we believe in exiting communities, leaving behind an empowered community to take charge of their development for sustainable rural transformation. And we believe that this will lead to the formation of Dream Villages where all households are economically and socially empowered.”
…I trusted my roots and soil
Swades nurtured my hobby of growing vegetables to a never-ending passion for farming. Post completing my engineering, I too faced the dilemma of chasing a city life or stay back in the village and struggle. Choosing the latter, I started working at my uncle’s farm. People often mocked my decision of staying back but, I trusted my roots and soil. I was aware of the Swades Foundation’s initiatives and their support for farmers in Raigad. I got in touch with them, and it changed my life. Motivating a few of my friends, we started community farming and availed the Water for Irrigation Program of Swades.
Practicing drip irrigation, we grew crops like cauliflower, tomatoes, brinjals, chilies etc. Seeing
this, the other farmers of our village got motivated too and are growing cash crops. Swades trained me in Advanced Farming Practices and it has helped me expand my farming business. We started farming on less than half an acre of land, and at present, we grow crops on more than 3 acres. I make Rs 1.5 lac annually only by farming. Swades Foundation also supported me with the New Orchard Program and Mango Grafting and soon the fruits will add to this income too. My family is proud of me, and other farmers of my village look up to me.
Ankush Vijay Maule
Adiste, Sutarkond, Mahad, Raigad