Writeen By Dr. Preeti Aggarwal
According to a recent report by World Bank, two-third of India’s population is dependent on rural employment for livelihood survival. We are the largest producer of many fresh fruits and second largest in major food staples, wheat and rice. In the year 2014, rain-deficit affected food grain production, while horticulture based products had a record production owing to some improvement in agricultural practices. However, most of these farms are small-and-scattered in nature and continue to adopt outdated farming practices.
Farmers have lower literacy rates, no information about modern agricultural techniques and lack financial capability to adopt efficient farming practices. Therefore, horticulture can emerge as a new way of livelihood generation for our rural population – more local, green and sustainable in nature.
With this motive, Sankalp Taru Foundation promotes sustainable agroforestry among rural and poor farmers of India – through developing connect, understanding farming challenges, identifying easy-to-adopt solutions and handholding farmers in their successful adoption. Till date, they have connected more than 2100 farmer beneficiaries across India and planted more than 3.3 lakh trees in rural areas. Harit Viom is Viom Networks’ endeavor to support Sankalp Taru in tackling the twin challenge of sustaining livelihood, deforestation and climate change. Under this project, Viom aims to support community plantation of 7000 fruit-bearing trees across India, where Sankalp Taru, its NGO partner, is working closely with farmers to support their livelihood by identifying sustainable agricultural practices for greening of India.
The plantation of trees is done on basis of surveys to identify the need for providing livelihoods to poor farmers suffering from ‘zero’ farming owing to poor air and soil quality. Post identification, the farmers are guided for a period of two years by when the tree sapling become self-sustainable. In this way, Harit Viom empowers the farming community by providing them with an alternate source of income to support their families with livelihood and nutritional security, in addition to enhancing the biodiversity of the region.
Under this project, 7000 trees are being planted in 6 states of India, namely- Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. The selection of species has been done by ensuring that native, high productivity-led fruit bearing trees are selected, resulting in higher commercial value realizations for the farmers. Kashmir apricots, walnuts, oranges, apples, pomegranates, mangoes, lemons, guava and lychees are some of the fruits that have been selected for plantation. The plantation will be done at the famers’ field and after-care expertise would be provided by Sankalp Taru to increase survival rate and increase production, including awareness building towards sustainable development.
On a continuous basis, progress is tracked through an online dashboard and frequent site visits on a continual basis. Additionally, Viom Networks has started an innovative practice of gifting trees to each one of its employees on their birthdays along with a certificate and a picture of the sapling, to create belongingness and sense of ownership amongst its employees.
Quoting Syed Safawi, our Chief Executive Officer (CEO), “At Viom, responsibility has always been key to our business conduct. We are trying to create a positive impact in society by embracing environmental sustainability and social welfare through our business activities. That’s why we invest in our communities and people within them. Harit Viom is one such project with which we are striving to create a direct impact in the lives of famers across India.” This is very much in-line with our philosophy of embarking on CSR programmes that are self-sustaining in nature with clarity of ownership amongst its beneficiaries.
About author: Dr. Preeti Aggarwal is Corporate Social Responsibility lead at Viom Networks Limited. She is managing several community projects and employee volunteering initiatives aimed at promoting environment conservation and protection in Indian region. She continue to pursue advocacy in the space of responsible business practices, climate impact and unsustainable growth issues.