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Partnership and Tech: Enhancing Agriculture and Clearing the Air in Northwest India

A holistic strategy of partnership, technology, and participatory community engagement to improve agriculture, the environment, and economy.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The state of Punjab, as the “breadbasket” of India, plays an important role in the economy and regional food security, but with high costs. Many Punjabi farmers engage in post-harvest burning as a quick, low-cost method of clearing fields of agricultural waste. The condensed burning period coats the region, from Punjab to New Delhi, in thick smoke with high levels of hazardous particulate matter, which affects human health and the economy. Intensive rice-wheat cultivation also requires significant resources to maintain high yields, which drives an over-withdrawal of groundwater. If agricultural practices continue as “business-as-usual,” current studies indicate that food security and water availability in Punjab will be seriously threatened within 15 years, with the lower ability to cultivate agriculture impeding prosperity. PYXERA Global proposes a regionally-specific, two-pronged strategy that bridges the private, public, and social sectors to respond to this urgent challenge. First, PYXERA Global will apply a human-centered design approach to build bridges between Punjabi farmers and existing technology to accelerate the adoption of mechanical tools that eliminate the need to burn fields. PYXERA Global will engage in focus group discussions and partner with communities, the local public sector, and private entities to understand and integrate critical perspectives, needs, and constraints into the design and implementation. PYXERA Global will further invest in capacity building for local farmers on Climate Smart Agricultural (CSA) practices, which will focus on agricultural best practices in water and soil management, climate smart crop selection, and appropriate fertilizer and pesticide use. The introduction of CSA practices will increase farmer understanding of the environmental consequences of specific agricultural practices, provide accessible and commercially comparable solutions, and help improve the resiliency of the planet and prosperity in the region.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Climate Smart Agriculture and mechanization will directly benefit the more than 1 million men and women of Punjab who depend on farming for their livelihood. Additionally, Punjab has one of the highest rates of post-harvest burning in northern India, which has detrimental health effects on residents such as respiratory disease, heart disease, and stroke. Those suffering from pollution incur high healthcare costs, including an estimated total welfare loss of 76 million rupees in Punjab as a result of air pollution. Those impacted by smoke pollution in New Delhi will also benefit from the positive economic and health impacts of this program, as recent studies have shown that during the time of peak burning, New Delhi’s concentrated particulate matter levels were more than triple the hazardous amount. By decreasing the number of fields burned during rice cultivation in Punjab, the program will also decrease the number of people suffering from the harmful effects of air pollution.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

PYXERA Global will apply a holistic strategy of tri-sector partnership that marries innovative technologies with proven participatory community engagement practices as a way to build bridges and solve this problem. The project will convene a range of stakeholders to increase understanding of the complex issues posed by the post-harvest burning and integrate accessible, commercially comparable, and sustainable solutions. Whereas efforts to improve agricultural practices or increase the adoption of mechanization often apply a narrow approach, PYXERA Global will use its successful tri-sector partnership model to promote community buy-in, cooperation, and leadership amongst all stakeholders. PYXERA Global will also apply its “pilot before scale” methodology to ensure the judicious use of resources. Together, the project will create an open and constructive dialogue around the use of mechanization for rice cultivation and pursue sustained adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture practices.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Through a culture of sustained collaboration that improves lives and communities worldwide, PYXERA Global reinvents how public, private, and social interests engage to solve global challenges.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

PYXERA Global works with communities in rural India on the Joint Initiative for Village Advancement (JIVA) with significant success. JIVA aims to improve the livelihoods and resilience of smallholder farmers and their communities, and is guided by the belief that farmers make the best decisions for themselves and that we can improve their decision support systems through capacity building. PYXERA Global aims to apply its experience to address the challenges facing farmers in the state of Punjab.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The project addresses a cyclical economic and environmental “race to the bottom.” Farmer’s drive for prosperity leads to intensive rice cultivation practices and post-harvest burning – which have negative impacts on the planet by taxing an already strained water and soil system and by producing air pollution that negatively impacts human health and the regional economy. As groundwater resources decline, the region’s agricultural future dims. The negative health impacts from air pollution increase household costs and hinder human capital development. The relationship between planet and prosperity may also reach individuals throughout India, as 95% of the food produced in Punjab is exported beyond the state. Without a thriving agricultural economy in Punjab, elevated food prices for staple goods, such as rice, threaten the food security of India’s 1.3 billion citizens. We must move quickly to help ensure a prosperous, healthy, and socially cohesive nation.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

For over a quarter century, PYXERA Global has worked in over 90 countries to improve lives and livelihoods by building the capacity of entrepreneurs, enterprises, and organizations to reach their potential, serve their communities, and thrive within a functioning economy. Today, its work is guided by a commitment to engage partners and design, support, implement, and communicate solutions that achieve real-world goals through innovative approaches that inspire, enrich, and endure. In its projects, PYXERA Global works alongside its partnerships with local communities, farmers, government institutions, businesses, NGOs, educational institutions, and corporate clients to ensure projects are inclusive, holistic, and impactful. This project will use PYXERA Global’s proven partnership model to ensure the activities are community-led and supported by a diverse network of technical experts.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Farmers in Punjab are industrious and agriculture is the main source of family income. More than 1 million men and women in Punjab with an average landholding size of 3.9 hectares. Farmers in this region have higher landholding sizes than the national average of 1.1 hectares. More than 99% of farmers use irrigation, the state is the most mechanized in India, and farmers are comparatively better adopters of new technology and practices after they understand its benefits.

Geographic Focus

Punjab, India

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project will run for 36 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


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Photo of Adisa Adeniyi

@PYXERA Global,Great. Can you visualise this idea by adding picture?

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