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Meeting Aspirations of Small and Marginal Farmers through Irreversible and Sustainable Livelihood Enhancement

Enhancing Quality of Life of Rural and Tribal Communities in Central Indian Tribal Belt

Photo of Ganesh Neelam
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Large NGO (over 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.

Tata Trusts (

Website of Legally Registered Entity

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

  • 3-10 years

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

Jamshedpur, Jharkhand state

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


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

The geography is the Central Indian Tribal Belt - states of Jharkhand, Orissa, Gujarat and Maharashtra - area approximately 60,000

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Central India is Indias most backward geography with nearly 80% tribal population. CInI has an existing programme called "Lakhpati Kisan" in this region and we focus on enhancing livelihoods and quality of life of the small and marginal farmers

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.

Small and marginal farmers constitute 86.21 percent of farm households in India[1]. Despite producing about 80 percent of the country’s food, these farmers are continually plagued by high production costs and low yields, outdated methods of farming, middlemen, unpredictable rainfall, and the lack of quality farm inputs. These difficulties are compounded for indigenous (tribal) farmers in India’s central tribal belt, which houses 73 percent of the country’s tribal population[2]. The ‘Lakhpati Kisan’ initiative is a five-year program that aims to confront these challenges and ensure that tribal households across Central India are irreversibly brought out of poverty by earning a steady annual income of $1450 – a three-fourfold increase from their current income. The program espouses a multi-pronged approach through the layering of livelihood activities, such that each household adopts improved production practices for at least two livelihood activities. These activities include market-linked high value agriculture, floriculture, livestock, Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP), etc. Further, to optimize the efficacy of the program, 70 percent of the households are assured with irrigation throughout the year. The program interventions are spearheaded by women-led community institutions at each level.


The average per capita operational size of agricultural landholding in India is 1.33 ha, which is well below the world average of 3.7 ha per person. Over 86 percent of the landholdings in India are classified as small and marginal landholdings with a farm size of less than 2 ha.1 India’s central tribal belt, home to a significant number of smallholder farmers has remained poor despite considerable investment from state governments, due to weak institutions and poorly developed markets. Over 51.5 percent of the tribal population in India’s central region lies below the poverty line.[3] Smallholder farmers in the region suffer from challenges such as land fragmentation, dependence on rainfall, outdated farming practices, limited access to credit, poor extension and infrastructure services, etc.[4]

 While there have been mainstream efforts at a national level for enhancing the income and standard of living of farmers, small and marginal farmers have often remained outside the ambit of advancements and benefits in the farming sector. Historically, there has been a policy bias in favour of farmers with large holdings and irrigated land who are perceived to be more valuable contributors to the economy. Further, programs directed towards tribal livelihoods in the central belt have been inadequate because of poor intuitional mechanisms and misdirected strategies 



[1] Agriculture Census 2015-16, All India Report on Number and Area of Operational Holdings, 2018




[2] 12th five-year plan (2012-17), Faster, More Inclusive and Sustainable Growth, Vol 1, Page 313




[3] Statistical Profile of Scheduled Tribes in India, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Statistical Division, Government of India, 2014




[4] 12th five-year plan (2012-17), Faster, More Inclusive and Sustainable Growth, Vol 1, Page 313




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.

The geographies wherein CInI works are fragile and sensitive geographies in terms of the tribal communities with forests and good natural resources. the region houses nearly 80% of the overall tribal population of India and is environmentally sensitive. the region is also rich in minerals and has substantial mining happening for economic growth. the resources are degrading in terms of forest cover, water resources and also seing the related changes with regards to climate. 

The Tribal communities for years have depended on forest based resources for food. they came in agriculture in a fairly traditional form and have been mostly consuming the produce they cultivate or the various food resources available from the forests. 

Small-scale and isolated interventions: While there have been sporadic efforts concentrated in smaller geographical pockets by various government and philanthropic organisations, these efforts fail to engage with the wide-ranging value chain of agriculture and allied activities and overlook the interlinkages between them. 

Top-down approach and low scope for flexibility: Most institutional efforts to resolve the issue have failed to embed themselves in the context of rural communities, by excluding community members from decision making and program implementation, and templatizing the design of interventions. 

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

The program focuses on driving large-scale impact by triggering the community’s own aspiration for change along with the convergence of multiple stakeholders for compounding impact. The emphasis on irreversibility of impact ensures increased resilience within the communities. The program is unique, in that it deploys world-class modern ideas and innovations whilst ensuring “last-mile delivery” by addressing local and needs and empowering tribal women as leaders.

The programme entails intensive engagement on ground, based on key principles:

Community centered approach, where Self Help Group (SHG) Federations and village organisations spearhead the development process. Community institutions and enterprises are strenghtened through the provision of high quality business and institution development services, linkages with affordable financing and markets, development of technical and management capacities of staff and leaders in such institutions/enterprises.

  • Market-led interventions, to ensure higher production and access to markets. Various options of market linkages have been worked out with aggregation for dealing with traders and in places working with Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO). The program focuses on developing and accessing financial instruments more aligned with markets, and reducing dependence on grants and subsidies as the primary means of financial support.
  • Demand-led activities, to enable increased demand from the community by empowering them. Through community institutions, demands from within the community are collated and quality products (seeds, fertilisers, etc.) and services provided to the households.The emphasis is towards creating demand for better livelihoods rather than dependency on grants. To ensure that the demand created is indeed effective, the programme will ensure that there is decentralized access to seeds and fertilisers, markets, credit and knowledge.
  • Innovation in ideas, products and technology to move beyond stereotypes . Innovative products / activities such as soil-less nurseries, loan based livelihood prototypes, solar irrigation linked with drip and mulch, farm mechanization, etc are being focused along with the innovative processes of community leading the action.

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.

The focused engagement with the tribal communities in Central India will help towards ensuring "Better Quality of Life of the Tribal Communities with emphasis on meeting their Growing Aspirations". The vision is overcoming the challenge of poverty within these tribal communities with long term improvement in their livelihoods.

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

Tribal geographies are very unique with the diverse natural resources as well as their cultures. In terms of the tribal communities, our core approach is to see how we can meet their aspirations along with them for better quality of life. This could be achieved only with the energy invested in their livelihood practices and see how the same could be improved keeping their culture and environment in mind. The approach is towards the same. the diet improvements through vegetables, environment management through integrated pest management approach, water management with soil health, thereby helping the families earn better incomes keeping the market demand in mind along with technology integration. While implementing the livelihoods through the institutions and entreprises framework, the policy level inputs are being visualized and the main linkage is towards the "Government of India - Doubling Farmers Income" initiative.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email


Join the conversation:

Photo of Thu Nguyen

Hi Ganesh Neelam 

Welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community!

Thank you for sharing your Vision about the food system in your selected place. Here are some tips and questions that could help you build your Vision stronger: How might you evolve your Vision to make it more inclusive and systemic for your local food system and its numerous stakeholders? Could explain how your Vision will address the six interconnected themes: Economics, Diet, Technology, Policy, Culture and Environment in a more integrated way? You can find some guiding principles on Systems Thinking and inspiration in the Vision Prize Toolkit in Chapter 2 under Tools of Transformation:

Please note that the last day to submit your final Vision is on Jan 31, 2020 5 PM Eastern Standard Time. Look forward to seeing your Vision evolving :)

Photo of Thu Nguyen

Hi Ganesh Neelam 

For the last days before the deadline, make sure you have reviewed your final submission through the Pocket Guide to support you through the final hours of wrapping up your submission. This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision.
Here is the link to the pocket guide:

Look forward to seeing your submission finalised by 31st January, 5:00 pm EST :)

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