Focus: Water Resources
Location: New Delhi, India
While it’s tempting to think that the Indian Monsoon between June and September satisfies India’s irrigation needs, the truth is that most of the land remains thirsty. 70% of India’s farmers are smallholder farmers who own less than a hectare of cultivable land each. Despite government subsidies of 80-90% for irrigation and farm technologies, smallholder farmers continue to limit their activities to periods of rainfall, because they cannot afford the expensive technology needed to irrigate their small plots when the climate is dry. This situation forces entire families to migrate for work, keeping them trapped in a perpetual cycle of hunger and poverty. In the last decade, inefficient water management and changing weather patterns have only aggravated these problems.
In 2001, a social-enterprise by the name of International Development Enterprises India (IDE-India) was founded to provide a long-term solution to these problems. Led by Amitabha Sadangi, IDE-India designs and develops drip irrigation technology that is affordable, suitable, eco-friendly and profitable for smallholder farmers. The company promotes their technology and services under the Krishak Bandhu (KB) brand at an unsubsidized price through village supply chains in 226 Indian districts. By using KB products such as the treadle pump and the drip irrigation system, smallholder farmers no longer rely on the monsoon season to cultivate their crops; they sow and harvest at least three times per year. As a result, these farmers have cut water use by 50-70% and increased crop yields by 30-70%. In addition, since each treadle pump is manually operated instead of diesel-powered, the sale of over 800,000 treadle pumps has prevented the release of more than 2.56 million tons of C02 into the atmosphere.
Today, IDE-India’s technology has spread to more than 1.25 million smallholder farmers, increasing their net annual income by an average of $500, with cumulative farmer earnings of $1.3 billion over 15 years. Furthermore, since the technology needs to be manufactured, sold, and installed, more than 560 million days of employment on the farm have been generated and over 1.6 million days of employment in the supply chain have been created. Over the years, IDE-India has been awarded several prizes, ranging from the 2006 Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy to the 2008 Schwab Foundation Outstanding Social Entrepreneur Award. More recently, in 2013, IDE-India was ranked #30 in The Global Journal’s Top 100 NGOs ranking. The company is now exporting its technology to countries in Africa and Southeast Asia with the same belief that brought them this far; smallholder farmers are not mere ‘recipients of charity’, but ‘customer entrepreneurs’ who are eager to build their future.
Environmental impact: Efficient water use, sustainable agriculture, avoided use of fossil fuels, including reduced emission of GHGs and harmful substances
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