Miscellaneous Knowledge Notes

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    Transforming Rural Farm Livelihoods: The NRLM Journey
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-03) Singh, Anjani Kumar ; Pinto, Alreena Renita ; Singh, Paramveer ; De, Alok
    The agriculture sector is the largest employer in India, providing direct employment to more than fifty percent of the nation’s workforce. Small and marginal farmers with landholdings of less than two hectares comprise eighty-six percent of all agricultural labour, reflecting high land fragmentation and low economies of scale. Mainstream extension and agriculture support services are not customized for these farmer segments, limiting their capacity to access improved production inputs and technology. The situation is even more complicated for women farmers who constitute nearly forty-three percent of India’s agricultural labour force. The DAY-NRLM farm livelihoods strategy evolved against this background to leverage the program’s social infrastructure of sixty-eight million households mobilized into exclusively women based self healp groups (SHGs) and higher federations, in order to deliver intensive and targeted capacity building of small farmers and streamline access to credit for farm needs. Key sub-sectors under the DAY-NRLM farm livelihoods portfolio include agriculture, livestock and non-timber Forest Produce (NTFP), supported through a combination of programs including the Mahila kisan sashaktikaran pariyojna (MKSP), National rural livelihoods project (NRLP) and Sustainable livelihoods and adaptation to climate change (SLACC). The farm livelihoods strategy under DAY-NRLM has evolved over the years from its initial focus on enhancing productivity through improved inputs and production methods, to a suite of interventions that address multiple entry points in the agriculture value chain.
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    Market Provisioning of Technology-Enabled Agricultural Services In India
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-03) Krishnaswamy, Karunakaran
    Farmers in India, especially smallholders, face a number of challenges that make their income streams low and unreliable. Start-up companies have entered the agriculture sector with a fee-based revenue model alongside leading technology firms like Microsoft, IBM and Google. Armed with technology, data analytics capabilities and risk capital, these agritech firms provide a range of services to farmers from input sales and conventional cropping advisories, to hiring out farm implements and sales. For farmer collectives and for institutional buyers, farm Enterprise Resource Planning software are being used for automation across the value chain and for traceability. Finally, some forecast weather, pest and disease attacks and yield and loss estimates, automate optimal irrigation and provide intelligence on borrowers' creditworthiness and claims payouts to banks and insurers. There are around 450 agritech firms in India today; of these 35 were started in 2018 alone. Venture capital is rapidly increasing, and total investments jumped up from US$73 million in 2018 to US$248 million in 2019. This note explains the services offered by these firms and provides a perspective on these services based on experiences in World Bank projects and stakeholder interviews.
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    Groundwater Governance and Adoption of Solar-Powered Irrigation Pumps: Experiences from the Eastern Gangetic Plains
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-01) Bastakoti, Ram ; Raut, Manita ; Thapa, Bhesh Raj
    Solar-powered irrigation pumps (SPIPs) have been promoted in the Eastern Gangetic Plains (EGP) in recent decades, but rates of adoption are low. This case study assesses the evidence from several solar pump business models being adopted in parts of the EGP, particularly eastern Nepal and northern India, and explores how different models perform in various contexts. It documents lessons for increasing farmers’ resilience to droughts through better groundwater use by promotion of SPIPs. Groundwater access for agriculture in the past was dependent on diesel and electric pumps, respectively constrained by costs and reliability of energy. Both government and nongovernment agencies have promoted SPIPs in the Ganges basin for irrigation and drinking purposes. SPIPs receive different levels of subsidies across countries and states in the region to facilitate adoption and ensure continuous and timely irrigation, which particularly benefits small and marginal farmers. Because the EGP faces variability in water availability, the SPIPs could help in building drought resilience. However, because low operating costs for SPIPs does little to incentivize farmers to use water efficiently, one critical question is how to balance equitable access to SPIPs while ensuring groundwater overdraft is not perpetuated. Farmers’ awareness of efficient water management options is crucial to avoid overextraction of groundwater.