OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Food Sovereignty through Multi-Stakeholders’ approach

Save Food Safe Food - Minimize Wastage and Maximize Storage for Equitable Access to all

Photo of Bratin Biswas
3 5

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Surul Centre for Services in Rural Area (CSRA)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

CSRA is a small NGO working with indigenous tribal communities in association with universities like Visva Bharati University, Bidhan Chandra Agriculture University, Agriculture science centre, concerned departments of State Government of West Bengal, District & Block administration, Local Self Governments and Farmers’ interest groups (FIGs). Universities are basically extending knowledge and practical training support to farmers on and off farm mode. Departments of state government like agriculture, horticulture, animal resources development, cooperation, land reforms etc are extending support for seed, fertilizer, livestock, infrastructure, credit. FIGs are basically organised and mobilised by CSRA for micro enterprise development and critical linkage with above stated institutions.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Birbhum District

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

State of West Bengal in India with total area of 88752 square km

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The organisation is established in 2000. Reason of selection of this place due to numerous challenges of poverty, recurrent drought & flood, rampant effect of climate change on livelihood, food & nutrition security as well as options to ground the vision of food sovereignty for wider learning and scale up to entire state in convergence with producers groups, government and private entities. The state consists 7.126 million farmers are cultivating net cropped area of 5.47 million hectares, but 40% of that area is under rainfed agriculture, resulted ratio of food production against demand is declining and even unmet, the worst sufferers of this juncture is indigenous tribes and other vulnerable sections who are in challenging front of imbalances of food & income (purchase capacity) security. The organisation is connected with place for last 18 years with multifaceted development activities with special priority to marginalised women and farmers for ensuring their land rights, capacity building & hand holding support for climate resilient agriculture, development of farmer producer organisation, women led micro business institution development, creating enabling environment to access government support, critical intervention to curb malnutrition etc.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India along the Bay of Bengal. With over 91 million inhabitants (as of 2011), it is India's fourth-most populous state. West Bengal is the thirteenth-largest Indian state, with an area of 88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi). Part of the ethno-linguistic Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent, it borders Bangladesh in the east, and Nepal and Bhutan in the north.West Bengal's climate varies from tropical savanna in the southern portions to humid subtropical in the north. The main seasons are summer, the rainy season, a short autumn, and winter. While the summer in the delta region is noted for excessive humidity, the western highlands experience a dry summer like northern India. Agriculture is the leading economic sector in West Bengal. Rice is the state's principal food crop. Rice, potato, jute, sugarcane, and wheat are the state's top five crops. Tea is produced commercially in northern districts; the region is well known for Darjeeling and other high-quality teas. West Bengal agriculture has occupied around 3 percent of India's productive land. More than 8 percent of India's food are being generated by the agricultural sector of West Bengal. Small and marginal farmers rule over the West Bengal agriculture and cultivates more than 68 percent of the total area. 

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Major challenges in Indian perspective are it has 24% of world's malnourished, 102nd rank in Global Hunger index, wasting $14 billion of food a year, German watch ranked India 2nd in Global Climate Risk 2020 on economic loss, as per report of UN Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change on 8th August 2018 estimated that by 2050, the prices of cereals rise up to 29% due to climate change. Also by 2030, 55.2 Cr. people will be directly affected through food insecurity, 3.4 Cr rural farmers will lose their job from agriculture sector. Contribution of agriculture has reduced significantly in total GDP over the years (50 % in 1951 to 16% of GDP as on date), around 60–70% of Indian population (directly or indirectly) depends upon Agriculture sector, which means 50% workforce and just 16% GDP. As per OECD, India has one of the lowest per capita daily supply of calories, protein and fat. The state of West Bengal is a predominantly agrarian state of India with agriculture contributing 18.8% to the State’s GSDP. It is one of the major producers of food in India having a strong agri-horticultural resource base. The state has a population density of 1028 inhabitants per square kilometre. Among the 68% of total farmers of the state are smallholders with a piece of land (less than 2.5 acres), but due to climate change and rainfall variability, food production mainly cereals is declining continuously, resulted almost 20% smallholders have already left agriculture and bound to migrate in urban sphere as labourers either seasonal or permanently. In last socio economic caste census 2011 revealed that 82.73% are under deprivation category. As per national family health survey report – 4, malnutrition among children and women is alarming (43% under 5 years children are underweight, 29.5% wasted, 40.3% stunted and 10.1% severely wasted). Diversification of food production is almost nominal because of inadequate storage facility, those smallholders are producing seasonal vegetables forced to sell less price, even in lesser than investment due to non-access of storage and proper market. No significant use of technology in case of weather forecast, rainwater harvesting, environment management, crop planning etc. Instead of addressing critical challenges and making self-reliant food production, government has introduced national food security scheme under public distribution system where it is providing subsidized food grains to the rural households, which make them more dependent, reluctant, compromised and less accountable to demand for critical food production support from the government. Severity in economic imbalances and low purchasing power in rural areas are making lives in vicious cycle of poverty.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The vision of food sovereignty is not just pride and rights issue, it is about respecting culture, cuisine, choice and climate and a very pragmatic approach. It is rooted in respecting diversity and in diversity lies sustainability. While it may pose challenges of macro management and planning, yet it should be seen without prejudice in terms of resilience it offers, the dignity it provides, the economic value it offers as well as the invaluable contribution it makes through ‘intangible’ eco systems services. Keeping in view numerous challenges in present and future food & nutrition security, climate change is a reality, food & agriculture must be changed accordingly, thus immediate need is to do participatory plan & execution of water use and conservation to arrest run off rainwater, adaptation of climate resilient diversified crop rotation practices, river rejuvenation to improve expand irrigation potential area, regeneration of forest through agro-horticulture model to ensure REDD+, use of clean solar energy at home and farm and ensure use low cost irrigation tools for ensuring more crop per drop. In view of alarming & grim situation of malnutrition, diversified & fortified diet practices need to be ensured, therefore household level food budget w.r.t. income (HFBI) calculation is required, locally suitable food must be promoted in collective farming practices for equitable access of nutrition and community cohesiveness. Majority of farm economy is dependent on smallholders, they have limited land and investment capacity, so to maximise use of their land need multi-layer farming, simplification of cost-benefit assessment in line of crop planning, development of farmers producer organisations, market linkage not only value chain but also e-market & export channel, access to credit linked crop insurance against crop plan with legal agreement, ensure minimum wastage & maximum storage, development of market friendly producers perspective plan (MPPP) on food with government, private actors, universities for convergent solution is required. Essence of nutrition is never be a highlighted subject at political and social sphere, thus to ensure sovereignty in food, nutrition to be included in the community norms & existing diet practices, thus concept of learn & earn (L&E) need to be incorporated with traditional knowledge, thus sense of food sovereignty must be inserted through existing cultural practices with “no dependency, only self-reliant food system”. Technology is the backbone of food system but it must be used to complement traditional practices, due to lesser knowledge and update on changing climate scenario, smallholders need instant online agriculture solution (IOAS), android application based (multi linked) single window system to access market with current rate, administrative and transportation support from Government end, SMS enabled fortnight weather report to be provided for development of crop plan.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

In spite of a developing and one of the leading food producing countries, India stands 103 rank global hunger index. If the current scenario is further extended then it could be worst situation in terms food & nutrition. It is imperative to state that people and government still in reluctant mood to understand severity of food security challenges because of industrial relevant social and political dynamics and skilled labour oriented economy, at farm level people have lesser hope on agriculture as source of income & livelihood, thus farmer to farmer transformation is decreasing at household level, rather to food production economy with climatic shocks & risks, farmers are preferring and adopting shortcut root to earn & run livelihood through hazardous occupation or migrating as labour in distant places, resulted decreasing production, increasing cost of food products are beyond reach to the middle and low income categories, even the farm producers are in hunger and distress. Also the economic imbalances is increasing and purchasing capacity decreasing. In case of state of West Bengal, the present population is 95 million, with last decadal growth rate it will go to 115 million in 2050, meeting the need of food & nutrition security for all in an equitable manner, being a federal Government system, direction of existing social & political dynamics need to be changed towards Food Sovereignty to make people, government & private entities more accountable and concentrated support for healthy and culturally appropriate food production. The vision of food sovereignty stands with less dependency on PDS & high self-reliance in food production through critical change in process and practice with acceptance of climate change reality. To meet the need of food in 2050, it has been estimated that 42% food production to be increased from current level by enhancing resilience and lowering emissions with at least 4.5% income growth per year among smallholder farmers.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

A number of trends are influencing food security, poverty and the overall sustainability of food and agricultural systems in India. The India’s population is expected to grow to almost 1.85 billion by 2050, boosting agricultural demand – in a scenario of modest economic growth – by some 40 percent compared to 2019. Economic growth and population dynamics are driving the structural change of economies. The decline in the share of agriculture in total production and employment is taking place at different speeds and poses different challenges across the nation. Agriculture, with its allied sectors, is the largest source of livelihoods in India. 70 percent of its rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, with 82 percent of farmers being small and marginal. In 2017-18, total food grain production was estimated at 275 million tonnes (MT). India is the largest producer (25% of global production), consumer (27% of world consumption) and importer (14%) of pulses in the world. It is the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton and groundnuts, as well as the second-largest fruit and vegetable producer, accounting for 10.9% and 8.6% of the world fruit and vegetable production, respectively. But as per Reuters, the country is wasting $14 billion of food a year due to inadequate logistical support, lack of refrigerated storage, supply chain bottlenecks, poor transport and underdeveloped marketing channels. Nutrition continues to be the main challenge. India has a very high prevalence of undernourishment and micro nutrient deficiency, for which it is placed at the bottom and second from the bottom, respectively (after Ethiopia). Calorie intake is also clearly a function of income, NSSO figures shown that the bottom 5% of the rural population (ranked by per capita expenditure level) consumes only 1,633 kcal per person per day compared with 3,264 for the top 5%. Poor supply of nutritious food and inadequate per capita income to access good food feeds into health issues such as disability and malnutrition. In view of above concerns, the food system vision is related with demand-driven agricultural innovation system that could respond / meet food requirements with effective resilience. The Food Sovereignty movement could play a crucial role in this endeavour because the agro-ecological practices it advocates must be part of a comprehensive approach to sustainable intensification. Still agriculture in West Bengal has achieved grain self-sufficiency but the production is resource intensive, cereal centric. Increasing stress on water resources definitely need a realignment and rethinking of policies. Desertification and land degradation also pose major threats to agriculture in the state. For future food & nutrition security, climate change is a reality, food & agriculture should be changed accordingly, thus immediate need is to develop capacity of smallholders and do participatory plan on water use and conservation to arrest run off rainwater. For sustainable water resources management, large scale river rejuvenation projects need to be implemented to cover more than 50% agriculture land, this will ensure climate resilient diversified crop rotation practices. Achieving the emission goal, regeneration of forest through agro-horticulture model and use of clean solar energy at home and farm level is necessary. To ensure that government should enable subsidized credit to the smallholders. If environmental safeguards and response are positive then it will improve the scope of food production with diversification, crop plan & rotation also improve farm income and purchasing power among smallholders. To improve nutrition status at household level, food budget w.r.t. income (HFBI) calculation is required and locally suitable food will be promoted in collective farming practices for equitable access of fortified diets and community cohesiveness. Based on water security and improved resilience among smallholders with limited land and investment capacity, multi-layer farming option is to be promoted largely for optimum use of land with multiple production at a time for effective use of water. Considering poor educational status of smallholders, for effective investment, credit repayment, broad understanding on crop planning their capacity to be enhanced with simplified cost-benefit assessment process. For effective value addition in processing and agri-business with local, e-market and export channel with government / private actors, farmers producers organisations to be promoted @300 smallholder farmers. This organisation will help smallholders to access institutional credit which linked with crop insurance. To access tangible & result oriented support, market friendly producers perspective plan (MPPP) to be developed with government, private actors, and universities for convergent support. Essence of nutrition along with food security is never be a serious concern at political and social sphere, therefore nutrition need to be included in the community norms & existing diet practices, concept of learn & earn (L&E) to be incorporated to complement indigenous & traditional knowledge of the reference community. This will be done through existing cultural practices with “no dependency, only self-reliant food system”. Technology is the backbone of food system but it must be used to complement traditional practices, due to lesser knowledge and update on changing climate scenario among smallholders, instant online agriculture solution (IOAS) portal in Bengali language to be developed, along with android application based (multilinked) single window system to be introduced to access market with regular produce rate, administrative and transportation support from Government, SMS enabled easy weather report to be provided fortnightly for crop plan and necessary protective measures of crop. Present need is to improve management of agricultural practices on multiple fronts. Improvements in agriculture performance has weak linkage in improving nutrition, this sector can still improve nutrition through multiple ways by increasing incomes of farming households, diversifying production of crops, empowering women, strengthening agricultural productivity and designing careful price and subsidy policies that should encourage the production and consumption of nutrient rich crops. Diversification of agricultural livelihoods through agri-allied sectors such as animal husbandry, forestry and fisheries can enhance livelihood opportunities. To respond environment challenges along with stable food production, technology transfer to smallholders, fill leakages in policy and programme implementation, Government’s role as catalyst to develop agreeable linkages of farmers & private actors as well as favourable policy actions in response to market friendly producers perspective plan (MPPP). Instead of larger infrastructure, FPOs need to be supported for well-equipped storage units to minimize wastage of fruits and vegetables. For export, policies and programmes are to be designed for certification, processing, packaging, branding and transportation of food items. For paradigm shift in food system by envisioning the challenges in 2050, vision of food sovereignty should be aligned with multi-stakeholders’ approach with lesser political confrontation. Figuring the vision of 2050, it intends to reach 42% increase rate of food production assuming increase of 2 to 3 degree temperature; as per current rate of farm income it is expected to increase 4.5% income of smallholders per year; in case of health outcome, expected rate of under 5 years underweight and severely wasted children to be reduced from 43.1% to 15% and 10.1% to 1.5%; target to reduce GHG emissions from agriculture from 24% to -15%; and reduce food wastage to 5% with adequate storage facilities. As the vision will be grounded with multi stakeholders’ approach, thus evaluation process will be all inclusive with participatory methodology and evidence based for wider learning and scope of scale up. Three major impacts will be evaluated i.e. economic, social and environment followed by supporting factors like inclusive growth, green growth and eco-social progress with number of indicators. To complement the evaluation process, eminent food system experts including academicians, doctors, social workers, community leaders, students, NGO staff, and smallholder farmers will be involved in the evaluation team. To support evaluation and learning environment, process documents, case studies, technical feasibility study reports and documentaries will be provided under review system to understand reach of vision towards its desired goal.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jun Suto

hi Bratin Biswas  thank you for sharing your vision with us!! Reading your submission with variety of stakeholders and KPI's reminded me of the Corporate Knights ( who evaluates companies > US$1B in revenue for the Global 100 List of the most sustainable companies. I'd love to learn more about your views on diet and culture along with the development of general technologies in 2050 and how those will interact in your 2050 vision!!

View all comments