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Water I Rajasthan
Sharada Devi and her husband Ramsukh escaped the viscious cycle of moneylenders and debt, when they installed drip irrigation on 10 bigha of their land - taking their once meagre income from 1.25 lakh per year to 4.98 lakh.
With a low groundwater table around their land, the couple had not been able to maximise their 18 bigha of landholding - creating financial stress, which impacted their children's schooling and the harmony of the home.
In search of solutions, Sharada attended one of ACF's Farmer Meetings and learned about the benefits of Drip Irrigation.
With the help of ACF the couple installed the water efficient irrigation system and planted vegetables and wheat in the area - bringing in a bumper crop.
Having reaped the rewards, Sharada and Ramsukh are now eager to install drip irrigation on their remaining 8 bigha of land also.
Health I Maharashtra
Poor sanitation heightens the possibility of health disorders and diseases that can severely hamper the productivity and earning capacity of people. Lack of toilets is also a big concern for women’s safety.
Limited awareness on improved sanitation practices, poor economic conditions, and lack of decision-making power for women, are some of the factors fuelling the poor sanitation in rural communities.
ACF has adopted a holistic approach to make sanitation an integral part of the rural communities. With people’s participation at all stages of the project, the focus is on creating a demand for a healthy lifestyle rather than building mere infrastructural facilities. Through the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), ACF ensures an active involvement of the community in achieving better sanitation practices.
ACF is implementing CLTS by promoting household and school sanitation. Swacchta Doots, the ACF trained youth brigade to educate communities and members of women's federations, play an especially active role in driving the cause.
Health I Chhattisgarh
Rural healthcare intervention has been one of the primary healthcare focus areas for ACF since its very inception.
Through its HBNC project, ACF also endeavours to contribute to the sustainable development goals, particularly SDG #3 (Good Health and Well-Being) and SDG #5 (Gender Equality). In its course of work, it has aligned with several organisations to come together and create breakthrough programs pertaining to its thrust areas.
Sakhis, ACF trained rural healthcare workers, are the main drivers of ACF’s HBNC project. Sakhis play a vital role in strengthening the status of pre and post natal care as well as in increasing institutional deliveries, thereby reducing infant and maternal mortality rates. They register the details of expectant mothers, do a regular follow up as per the gestational stage and facilitate safe delivery. Sakhis are specially trained in managing high risk cases.
The efforts have yielded encouraging results. Institutional deliveries in Sakhi intervention villages is nearly 100%. In 2015, an external study was conducted to compare the knowledge of HBNC between Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and ACF Sakhis. The study trends clearly demonstrated better knowledge and skills amongst our Sakhis.
Health I Himachal Pradesh
Ashok Kumar was struggling. He’d had multiple tests from multiple clinics, but no one could diagnose the problem causing him so much pain. A bladder issue, he had spent thousands of rupees on tests and still there was no result.
Finally, after a difficult time, on his son-in-law’s advice, Ashok visited the ACF Darlaghat diagnostic centre – 21km away from his place.
“That was the best decision I made — the report was accurate, and the centre in-charge referred me to the doctor so that my treatment could begin immediately. I was fit and fine in just two weeks!” says Ashok.
Ashok was so impressed with the facility and staff that he doesn’t mind travelling all the way from Arki to Darlaghat for any tests he or his family needs to get done.
“We can trust them. They are reliable and cost effective. I have experienced it myself. Why should I go anywhere else?” he chuckles.
Health I Maharashtra
When Kavita Sudhakar Kudsange wanted a loan for agriculture, the bank denied her application because she had no toilet in her house. So Kavita decided to approach the Women's Federation for help.
“The Federation was convinced that sanitation should be a prime focus and wanted to ensure that no woman should suffer the way I did - so they decided to help.”
And so a partnership was forged with Gruh Finance who created a revolving fund to help women finance toilets via loans. But this was not all.
Working hand in hand with ACF a Community Led Total Sanitation approach was adopted to educate the community about toilets.
And of course, local women from the Federation were harnessed to champion the cause. To date, they have achieved ODF status for 17 villages around Chandrapur and constructed 1500 toilets.
“I built my toilet, got my dignity back, helped the health of the community and also got my business loan — just look at how much women can do!”
Health I Maharashtra
Shankar Sumbhaji Todase was just 15 when he took up chewing gutka. By the time he was 25, his habit cost him Rs 100 per day, and was ruining his health.
“The first time my eyes were opened to the impact of tobacco, was during a ‘no tobacco’ campaign organised by Ambuja Cement Foundation in 2011.”
“Suddenly I saw everything anew – children as young as 8 were chewing tobacco and it was being offered to them by their parents. Teachers in the community were even getting school children to fetch gutka from local shops. The problem was rampant.”
And so Shankar decided to take the first step and give it up. “It was then that I was nominated as the Head of the Village Development Committee that had formed to try to ban tobacco from the village.”
“We tried to get the shops to stop selling it, but it was too profitable for them – they wouldn’t do it. And so we went to the Gram Sabha, and sought a resolution to make our community tobacco free”, says Shankar.
Health I West Bengal
Anu Rabidas was a very respected woman in her village and she felt proud. After all, she had helped to deliver so many babies into the world acting as a traditional midwife.
But this pride was shattered when her son’s child died in a homebirth that she was delivering. It was only then that Anu began questioning her traditional knowledge.
During this difficult time, ACF launched its home-based new-born program in Anu’s village and in her quest to learn something new, she registered for the training program.
“The training was an eye-opener — I was finally convinced that hospital delivery is a must and that I must promote it amongst women.”
“I have learnt a lot under the program and I am proud to promote mother and child health.”
Anu ensured that her daughter-in-law had a safe hospital delivery. She is now a proud grandmother.
Agriculture I Maharashtra
Since 2010, ACF has collaborated with the Better Cotton Initiative, a Geneva based NGO, to make cotton production better for producers, the environment and the sector’s future - by developing cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity.
Initiated with just 2552 farmers in 2009, the program has grown to reach and empower nearly 81,380 farmers. Additionally, the project has helped farmers achieve an average of 22% income growth and 17% reduction in water usage.
With the success and scale of the initiative, ACF has been elected as a member of the Global Council of Better Cotton Initiative — a key position to set the strategic direction and influence policies at BCI.
Today, farmers are not only earning better profits, but are also technically sound, are supported through a peer-learning approach, are more receptive to innovation and have gained stronger positions in the entire value chain.
Agriculture I Gujarat
Agriculture is a dynamic field with new technological advances emerging every year.
In order to support farmers to stay abreast of and adopt these new approaches, ACF, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agriculture Research, established a Krishi Vigyan Kendra in 2007 at Kodinar in Junagadh, Gujarat.
KVK provides regular training programs and front line demonstrations on farm testing, farm development, seed production and other extension activities - to help bridge the gap between research and extension, and to equip farmers with the latest developments in agriculture.
One initiative to enhance reach and knowledge dissemination was the establishment of a Community Radio Station, 'Lokvani Radio' in 2013. Broadcasting for 3 hours per day, the station airs programs on different thematic aspects such as agriculture, health, education, environment and women empowerment — to support farmers and their families.
To date, KVK has reached 287 villages of all 14 blocks. In doing so, ACF uses a participatory approach and plans each KVK intervention after careful assessment and consultation with farming communities.
Agriculture I Gujarat
In 2002, in an effort to find a solution to severe salinity ingress, ACF, Tata Trusts and the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) collaborated to launch Kharash Vistarotthan Yojana — a program to restore water and livelihood to 20 villages of Kodinar and Sutrapada Talukas of Gir Somnath district.
The first phase saw the partnership address depleting groundwater, improving drinking water and changing agricultural cropping patterns. Subsequent phases of intervention targeted agriculture in saline conditions, efficient water management and salinity ingression checks. Additionally there was a focus on developing community based institutions to ensure long term sustainability of initiatives.
In 2005, the same group of promoters established the Coastal Salinity Prevention Cell (CSPC). Today, this cell has become an advisory cell to government.
The success and impact of the initiative and partnership, which spans 15 years, has led to a 'reversing of the salinity' which has increased incomes by up to Rs10,000 and led to an increase of 30-40% in production. It now has a presence in over 500 salinity affected villages covering 149,000 households of 10 coastal districts.
Agriculture I Rajasthan
ACF places a special focus on marginalised communities - prioritising Tribal Development as a key initiative of its agriculture-based livelihoods program.
In Bali, the tribal populated block of Pali district of western Rajasthan, each household relies on multiple sets of livelihoods to feed their families. ACF has initiated a variety of programs to support an increase in livelihood and prosperity for these communities.
Initiated in 2009, ACF adopted an integrated approach, partnering with different organisations to improve crop and vegetable cultivation, orchard (WADI) development and goat rearing.
The results speak for themselves:
• 4,838 women mobilised into SHGs, and federated into the apex institution, Leharia Mahila Vikas Samiti, with a cumulative corpus of Rs318.53 lakh.
• Goat mortality reduced from 30% to less than 3%, with increased profitability of Rs12-15,000.
• Enhanced annual income from agriculture and food security for 12 months achieved with 3000 farmers.
Education I Maharashtra
Age: 49 years | Village: Pimpalgaon, Chandrapur, Maharashtra
"When I joined as principal of Zilla Parishad School in Pimpalgaon in 2013, children from the community were mostly going to faraway schools for education. Teachers were even waiting to get their transfer orders and shift to other schools.
The school was dead. It seemed hopeless, but I could see so much potential in the place.
I started conducting meetings with teachers and parents and it seemed everyone wanted good education at the school but didn’t know how.
I knew we just had to work together — and work hard.
We started with the infrastructure. We planted trees and plants, painted buildings, an E-Learning system was installed; with ACF and the community’s help, we even built a two- story school building.
People were buoyed by what they could achieve and we started to do more.
Today, my school is ISO certified and it is amongst the top 10 schools of the district. Admission and attendance has gone up and both children and teachers look forward to attending school.
This is the best reward I could have hoped for ...
Health I Himachal Pradesh
Age: 36 years | Village: Kashlog, Darlaghat, Himachal Pradesh
"Her mother in law kept insisting that Pawan have her child at home. She was adamant about it.
She had heard rumours about how crowded the hospital was and that doctors didn’t pay attention.
I tried to tell her about the potential risks — to the mother and the child — but because the previous ultrasounds had been good, she didn’t listen.
Still I kept trying, to no avail.
Then in the 9th month, I finally convinced Pawan to come to the hospital, just once, to see the doctor and see what he said.
And thank God she did!
The doctor noticed that the womb was in the reverse position. It was a serious condition.
With his expert help, a healthy baby girl was born.
On coming out of the labour room, the doctor informed the family about the critical situation.
'You did well to bring her to hospital for the delivery' he said. 'Otherwise, there was a risk of life.'
Sometimes you just have to persevere. People do not try to improve due to old beliefs, but it’s our job to make them understand, to help them see.
I did that — and now she has a lovely baby girl!"
Women I Punjab
"My mother married me off just before I was to appear for my tenth grade exams. And marriage was more of a shock than a joyful experience for me!
Soon after my marriage I realised that my husband was not earning – not that he didn’t have any options, but he was too lazy to work. There was a time when I got up in the morning worrying about how I will feed my children.
I still remember how apprehensive I was during the first meeting with ACF for Self Help Group formation. ‘What if I couldn’t contribute to the monthly savings?’ Had it not been for the support of ACF, I would have never been able to take that leap of faith.
I am so glad it all happened - I never knew that regular savings, however small, could work miracles.
I took charge of my situation and with SHG support I started my own grocery shop. Within 6 years I even built a new house! And even better, I appeared for my tenth grade exams and cleared it successfully. Now what? I am saving money for my daughters – not for their marriage but for their studies."
Women I Gujarat
Today, Sangita, Poonam and Varsha Bharga bring in Rs 30,000 per month to support their family of 7 after the loss of their father, who passed away in 2014, leaving the family with 12 years of health related debt, and no income source.
In order to survive, the mother and sisters opted for daily labour earning just 50 rupees/day. While working as labourer, Sangeeta got to know about SEDI. Hopeful to start her career in right direction, she visited SEDI centre in Kodinar (Gujarat), where she received orientation on various vocational courses. Without much delay, Sangita registered for the course in nursing trade.
After 2 months training at Sidhhivinayk Hospital in Morbi (Gujarat), she took up a job at Janki Hospital as a Staff Nurse in the Gynec Department earning 5000 per month with food and accommodation. Her sincerity and honesty in her work impressed the Doctors and she was promoted - now earning 10,000 per month.
With such an inflow of money, she supported her two sisters Poonam and Varsha to also study nursing. Poonam completed her on Job training from Meru Nursing Home – Bhavnagar, then was sent for a job at Amrut Hospital Baroda with 7000 salary/pm and accommodation. Varsha is working at Ashutosh Hospital, Rajkot with 10,000 salary.
With a total monthly household earning of Rs. 30,000/- this young trio is the personification of hard work and strong determination.
Women I Maharashtra
Chanda Ramgirwar of Hardona khurd village Chandrapur, bucked societal trends and family pressure when she sent her two daughters to study high school. She created community uproar when she sent them for College!
But the homemaker turned entrepreneur didn't care, and was committed to giving her girls the opportunity that she never had as a child.
"It created a lot of problems in the village for us all - but mum was adamant - we were to study," her 20-year old daughter Saima, a 2nd year student of Pharmacy at Gondwana University, Chandrapur, said.
However the challenges did not stop there. Already operating the household on a meager income, Chanda had to find additional source of funds to pay for the education - creating her own business in household cleaning products to do so.
"I attended a Women's Federation event, organized by Ambuja Cement Foundation, which taught women ways in which they could start their own enterprises. I started making cleaning products and things just grew from there." She said.
Today, her girls are flourishing, and now other women in the community have followed suit - sending their girls to Study.
"People can see the confidence and potential we have to earn - now they want the same for their daughters." Chanda said.
Even Chanda has grown, and now holds the position of Secretary of the Ekta Mahila Bachat Sangh - Chandrapur Women's Federation.
Women I Maharashtra
Age: 35 years | Village: dhanakdevi, Chandrapur, Maharashtra
My heart used to weep seeing my husband struggling to earn a decent income from his crop. And it wasn’t just him, the local moneylenders and middlemen were making farmers’ lives in our village miserable.
I wanted to help, but how? I had never even stepped out of the house ever before!
When ACF offered to train me as an Agri Extension Worker in 2007, I faced big problems convincing my mother in law to let me do it. She was totally against me going around the village and talking to groups of men about farming.
But this was the least of the problems I would face.
People made fun of me, made allegations and often were heard saying, “Don’t know where does she goes all alone far away from the village. What does she want to learn now after marriage and after having two kids?”
But I was adamant.
Working closely with ACF we helped farmers increase farm productivity, improve financial access and eliminate middlemen from the value chain. Farmers are now earning better, and their families are leading a better life.
It took time, but soon I started to gain respect.
This encouraged me to go one step further and soon I was chosen as the Vice Chairperson of the Village Development Committee.
But why stop there? ACF offered to also train me as a Sakhi and so I took that up also.
Women I Gujarat
Age: 34 years | Village: Panadar village, Kodinar, Gujarat
When ACF approached me to implement the internet saathi project, I was not very sure. Forget the internet - women, including me, didn’t even own a smartphone!
But the ACF team was confident. This was a project with Google, which was an alien for all of us at that point of time, but is our best friend today.
I was nervous but excited too - one thing that excited me about the internet saathi project was riding a bicycle!
Carrying 2 electronic tablets, 2 smartphones, a power bank, sim cards and memory card I boarded my bike and was amongst a brigade of women spreading digital literacy across the region.
Since 2015, I have reached out to 7000 women from 10 villages and earned more than a lakh under this project.
Internet has opened up a whole new world for us women. Look at me! Just 3 years ago I was earning daily wages as a labourer, and today I also run a beauty parlour.
Now I just google the latest makeup and hairstyles and watch videos on youtube to learn about it. It’s all so easy! My customers are happy and the business is growing fast.
Not only is my financial status improving but I am being seen as a respectable person in the village. “Log poochte hain, mujhe internet teacher Anitaben ke naam se jaante hain” (People ask about me and refer me as internet teacher Anitaben).
And today, I am much faster in my work than before - I don’t use the bicycle anymore, I purchased my own scooty. It saves my time.
Skills I Rajasthan
Age: 22 years Village: Nagaur, Rajasthan
"I used to despair about my life. I’m not like everyone else, and what are the chances in life for a disabled guy like me?
I soon started drinking and even began selling liquor like everyone else in my village. The only respectable thing I did was shoe polishing, which did not earn me enough money.
One day, on the train, I stumbled drunk, and fell onto a man. Most would curse and push me away, but I was lucky - this man was from SEDI.
He asked me, “Why, a young guy full of potential like you, are you throwing your life away on drink?”
He talked and he talked and somehow convinced me to join SEDI, to learn something new.
I enrolled for the mobile repairing course and slowly got an understanding of the trade.
Today I work for Samsung! I also get mobile repairing jobs at home which means I earn up to Rs 11,000 per month. I feel proud of my achievements.
“Jin logo ko hum pehle sir kehte the, aaj wo humein sir kehte hain. Accha lagta hai.” (People whom I used to address as ‘Sir’ are calling me ‘Sir’ today. It feels nice).”
I sometimes wonder why I was so low on confidence and thought that my physical disability will be a hindrance in life."
Skills I Punjab
Age: 24 years | Village: Ropar, Punjab
Shamsher was our first child and you won’t believe how I was dancing with joy at his birth. But we could sense something was not right while he was growing up. Finally, my wife and I accepted that Shamsher was different.
He is special. So special in fact that he won Olympic Silver and Bronze Medals! He is a world recognised Snow Shoe competitor - who would have thought?
My little boy, who could not even eat on his own, underwent a transformation. He grew into an amazing man and athlete at Ambuja Manovikas Kendra and we are so proud of him.
And see him today! We only need to wake him up in the morning and he’s off. He gets ready, packs his tiffin box, rides his bicycle, and takes the passenger bus for AMK. This is the same child whom people once pitied.
‘Ek cheez jisme main hamesha yakeen karta hoon ki Mehnat karne se hi barkat hoti hai (I always believe that success follows hard work)’.
I was sure that Shamsher had potential, but didn’t realise how much....Imagine the amount of hard work that must have gone into making our son a hero. - Gurmeet Singh, Father of Shamsher Singh
Skills I West Bengal
When 26 year old Sayan Chatterjee, a SEDI graduate, snagged his first job in a retail centre in Howrah, his father was on cloud nine.
But his joy was short-lived when, after just two months of working, Sayan quit and came back home. It seemed that migrating to a new place and the employer's high expectations were making it difficult for him to cope on his own.
And so the SEDI team stepped in and after one month of regular counselling, Sayan finally agreed to give his career a second shot.
Before long, Sayan got another opportunity as an Executive at an automobile dealer shop, and this time he was determined not to let his father down.
And he didn't.
Soon Sayan's talent was noticed and he got the opportunity to upgrade his skills – even travelling internationally to Singapore for Product Training.
Today he is a network manager earning a monthly salary of Rs 17,500 - and he has never looked back!
IMPACT: Monthly Salary of Rs 17,500.
Skills I Maharashtra
Komal Ganpat Churnarkar bucked ridicule, societal trends and gender stereotypes by becoming the first female trainee enrolled in Welding at SEDI - paving the way for many other young girls in Chandrapur to follow suit.
Throughout her training, Komal had to face many road-blocks - people mocked her and doubted her aspiration. But Komal stood firm, every day reminding herself that women could achieve anything - even becoming a welder in the male dominated industry.
But today Komal has had the last laugh - earning Rs 10,500 per month in a reputed Pune-based company.
She further broke through barriers when her employer recognised her as one of their best trainees. Over and above her training in technical skills, SEDI provided training in computer skills and personality development - helping Komal to create a positive impression at her workplace.
Today, welding is gaining equal popularity among the female youth in Chandrapur - thanks to Komal’s courage, hard work and success!
IMPACT: Earning Rs 10,500 per month.
Skills I Gujarat
When SEDI staff in Kodinar, Gujarat decided to mobilise youth from the Siddi community - one of the most impoverished and marginalized communities in the area - the response was disappointing.
Despite repeated meetings and regular sensitization, people were just not ready to send their children for vocational training. They preferred sending young people to work as daily wage laborers.
The SEDI team was not ready to give up and was convinced that training Siddi youth would definitely help them beat the vicious cycle of poverty and uplift their socio-economic status.
An idea was formed - let us invite Abdul Ismail Masgul, the community head, to visit our training centre in Kodinar and see for himself! This was the turning point!
Impressed with the SEDI set up and training systems, the community head immediately enrolled his daughter for a mobile repairing course. Gradually, others followed suit.
Till date, 16 Siddi youth have been trained in various trades such as electronics, welding and nursing - earning an average of Rs 9000 per month.
IMPACT: 16 Siddi Youth earning Rs 9000+ per month.
Water I Gujarat
Age: 49 years | Village: jantrakhadi, Kodinar, Gujarat
"I was struggling.
I’ve got 5 kids and earning just 1 lakh each year, I simply couldn’t afford to send them to study. My wife was in despair - what about their future?
But all this turned around when I learnt about drip irrigation in a training program by Ambuja Cement Foundation.
Impressed with the results other famers were getting, I decided to install Drip Irrigation on my farm. Of course I didn’t have the money, but decided to take out a loan of Rs 55,000 to do so.
And wasn’t I happy I did?
My profits jumped to Rs 2.25 lakh, and I also saved Rs 25,000 on labour I once employed to flood irrigate crops.
So now I have Rs 1.7 lakh extra to invest in my children’s education. The future is looking bright and I am a happy man."
Water I Gujarat
Oghadbai K Dodiya is one of the most important people in the village of Dhamlej in Kodinar. Not only is he a forester in the Government Forest Department, but he gained additional notoriety when he helped solve the drinking water crisis in his village.
In 1999 he was the first to adopt a Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting System, which he invested in with the support of Ambuja Cement Foundation who also provided a subsidy.
Prior to construction, his 9 member family (along with the rest of the village) had to dedicate most of the day fetching up to 100litres of water from the nearby well to meet daily needs.
Additionally, the water was saline and created a variety of health issues for members of the community such as fever, high blood pressure and digestive diseases.
Seeing the success of the RRWHS in his own house and farm, he took it upon himself to convince the rest of the village to make a similar investment. Today over 45 RRWHS have been built in his village, with support from ACF.
"All water, which is God's gift and is fallen over our roof, isn't allowed to leave my house!" Oghadbai said as he breaks into a broad smile.
IMPACT - 137 Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting Systems built in Dhamlej Village.
Water I Himachal Pradesh
Kotlu Village, in Darlaghat, Himachal Pradesh and the lives of 10 farming households, have been transformed thanks to the construction of a series of check dams and irrigation channels by Ambuja Cement Foundation, which have brought to life 20acres of land - once rendered barren due to lack of water.
Just 2 years ago, farmers were only growing cereals and pulses over 6months of the year, due to a lack of irrigation facilities and inability to grow cash crops.
With a cumulative storage of 1895 cum, the check dams constructed at Ktaloo Fugana village and 1200rmt irrigation channel that diverts water from a nearby Nala and check dam, has ensured all year round water supply to the village.
Today, farmers average an income of Rs70000 thanks to the availability of water, which has enabled them to invest in more profitable cash crops such as tomato, peas, beans, cauliflower, coriander and spinach.
IMPACT: Increase in access to water from 6-12 months of year.
Water I Himachal Pradesh
Farmers in Thach Village have seen an increase in annual income of between Rs. 20,000-50,000, thanks to the construction of a 52500 litre capacity water storage tank for collection of natural water, along with irrigation channels - benefitting 12 households and 1.5 hac of land.
The tank is just one initiative implemented by communities in collaboration with Ambuja Cement Foundation under the NABARD funded watershed project in Daseran Panchayat through Jalagam Vikas Samiti Daseran. The total area of project is 925 ha. covering 18 villages and with a project outlay of Rs.1.41Cr.
With more ready access to irrigation water, farmers saw a 20-25% increase in production and were motivated to increase crop production and crop intensity - opting for more vegetable crops, cash crop cultivation and increasing crop rotation to 2-3 crops per year, as opposed to 1-2 crops earlier.
One progressive farmer Smt. Rita Devi, sold her potato crop worth Rs. 45,000/-. and some farmers have started cultivating fodder crops also, which has increased income via additional milk production. Presently, about 2800 litres of milk is supplied to Kam Dhenu Milk Society per month.
Agriculture I West Bengal
Age: 24 years Village: Bhagwatipur, Howrah, West Bengal
"Aquaculture has been in my family for generations. My father grew fish, my grandfather grew fish, my great grandfather did the same.
Like many other families in this area, we have a large pond right next to our house, but fish were always seen as a ‘side’ thing.
I got in touch with the ACF team at one of the meetings in our village. They showed very interesting things about aquaculture - I was shocked to know that I had not been following many scientific practices.
I was unaware about applying lime to maintain the pH balance of the pond. I wasn’t feeding the fish regularly and the feed I gave them was expensive and ineffective.
I soon realised that I was not utilising the pond to even 25% of its capacity.
And so I tried implementing all this knowledge and even used another fish breed that gave good returns. Earlier I would hardly manage 250 kg produce in a year and this year I got 1056 kg. My profit jumped from Rs 22,000 to Rs 1.2 Lakh!
In fact, the wholesalers told me that my fish were so tasty that they always reserved it for their special customers.
So what am I doing with the extra money? I am saving it to get more ponds on lease - my dream is big now!"
Agriculture I Himachal Pradesh
Age: 44 years Village: Koon Pichhiure, Himachal Pradesh
"The turning point in my life was when I was chosen by ACF to become a Pashu Swasthya Sevika in 2007. I had seen women in my village struggling to access proper veterinary facilities for their livestock - it brought a great feeling of empowerment when I realised that I could be the one to help them.
There were 23 PSS in our area and once we started working with our people we realised our potential to do more.
As our dairy initiative was successful, we decided to find other solutions to various challenges related to livestock care. That is how we registered our Farmer Producer Organisation with 58 Directors.
With ACF’s support, we began by registering our dairy cooperative – Amrit Dhara Milk Producers Marketing Cooperative Society Ltd. Women from the villages enthusiastically joined the initiative - selling more than 1000 litres milk every day.
We procured feed supplement and medicine for cattle at a lower cost and have opened an outlet from which locals can purchase these things without hassle. We have also set up a fodder bank for animals. It has been less than a year and our ventures have fetched us a profit of Rs 2.28 lakh! But we have a long way to go.
My job as the President is to lead the group, resolve issues and keep a focused approach. Most of the women who are part of our FPO today would not have dreamt of stepping out of their houses a couple of years back! Isn’t this a miracle?
Our dream? Well, we want to now set up a milk chilling plant here and grow just like Amul did. This looks a distant dream, but every successful venture began small, didn’t it?"
Agriculture I Maharashtra
Sitabai Janga Mandavi was able to throw in the towel on her daily wage labour job, when she adopted a Goat-based livelihood - thanks to a training program held in her village, Kargaon Chandrapur, by Ambuja Cement Foundation.
As daily wage earners, both Sita and her husband were struggling to fulfil the basic needs of their family - a meager income of 2000Rs per month just could not sustain their children's schooling. Things hit rock bottom when their 13year old daughter died.
But then Sitabai discovered goats, and successfully turned her fortunes around!
Whilst the initial training phase was a challenge - juggling her labour work and tending the goats - she gradually began earning a decent income, and in just 3 years she had saved almost Rs 3 lakh!
Today, Sita has her own pucca house, a new mobile phone and is also saving for the future. She could easily afford her elder daughter’s marriage, and now, her son is now helping her expand her business.
Agriculture I Rajasthan
Gangaram Jat is one of the 1150 farmers in Rabriyawas whose livelihood has skyrocketed since joining the Balaji Farmer Producer Company.
Gangaram was introduced to the concept of 'farmer learner groups' by ACF in 2011 when he and 11 other farmers, joined in the formation of a small, local farmers’ club. At regular group meetings he learnt about, and adopted, various crop management practices that slowly increased his profit margins.
So, when ACF approached him to join the 'Balaji Farmer Producer Company', he immediately agreed. He had come to believe in the power of farmer's institutions.
Working together to procure critical farm inputs at a lower cost, and also selling their produce collectively to bring in better margins, Gangaram managed to turn his farming enterprise around. Under the FPC, he also started selling agricultural biomass - in 2016, Gangaram sold 300 tonnes biomass and earned Rs 1.75 lakh profit.
Today, he has his own house and can easily afford education expenses for both his children.
Agriculture I Uttrakhand
51 farmers in Roorkee (Uttarakhand) and 1340 farmers in Bali (Rajasthan) have safeguarded themselves and their livelihood, by taking out cattle insurance. When livestock die, there is a huge loss of daily income, which impacts the entire family - and farmers were unnecessarily putting themselves at risk. It was no easy task for ACF field staff however, who faced a major challenge in convincing farmers that insurance, along with the increased expense, was a worthwhile investment. And so teams in Bali and Roorkee held a variety of awareness programs and training sessions to raise awareness of the benefits of cattle insurance to protect farmers from loss. Additionally, farmers were given focused trainings on the advantages of purchasing cattle insurance and how it helps farmers to mitigate the effects of cattle loss. Gradually, farmers in ACF villages have begun to understand the hidden benefits of insurance and this initiative is now being expanded.
Impact: 1391 Farmers with Insurance.
Agriculture I Rajasthan
Age: 56 years | Village: Kesarpura, Rabriyawas, Rajasthan
"I used to farm the traditional way... but the results were poor and profits, even poorer.
In 2015, I learned about vegetable cultivation through ACF and learnt some new techniques in agriculture. It was apparently far more profitable than the wheat I used to grow year in and year out.
I started growing vegetables on 0.4 acre of my land and my income nearly doubled (from Rs 16,000 to 28,000)!
I was happy. I was encouraged. I thought - let me see what more I can do.
Next year, I grew vegetable on 1.2 acres, earning Rs 60,000 and took the opportunity to learn about growing green fodder for cattle.
I was confident now. I bought fodder seeds with the help of ACF and now I have fodder for my cows for an entire year - imagine!
I sell 50 litres of milk every day now, with 4 cows, 2 buffaloes and 5 goats. I even renovated my old house - it’s a pucca one now!
Let me see what more I can do with this life, this land and these hands of mine."
Agriculture I Maharashtra
Age: 31 years | Village: Panchgaon, Chandrapur, Maharastra
"Since childhood, I saw my father struggling to make agriculture profitable. I was very sure that I could do better. That with my hard work and skill, I’d earn more. But somehow, it never happened ...
In 2015, I happened to attend a farmer meeting organised by ACF and realised there were so many modern and new techniques in farming. That was an eye-opener when I realised there were so many ways to improve agriculture productivity!
I visited the ACF demonstration farm and that’s when I got to know the secret ... ‘more inputs doesn’t necessarily mean more produce.’
Within a year, not only did the produce increase (both in quantity and quality), but I got to experience the power of collective bargaining, by working together with other farmers in a group.
Soon, ACF chose me as an extension volunteer. I started guiding other farmers on more modern practices, multicropping and power of farmer institutions.
In a short time, I developed a strong reputation in the village. People developed a trust in my abilities and it came as a pleasant surprise when my villagers chose me as the village sarpanch - unanimously.
It’s been almost a year that I have been the village Sarpanch and I have implemented several government schemes and projects in the village including Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (under which we have got 100 toilets constructed).
People are happy with my work and I am motivated to see what more I can do after all I’m just 31 years old!"