Strengthening Small Holder Women led Agrobiodiversity Conservation and Livelihoods through an Eco Centre at Kanakapura, India

Women led conservation of Agrobiodiversity sustained over two generations that acknowledges their wisdom and experience in Kanakapura

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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Sandip Pattanayak

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • India

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?

Kanakapura Taluk of Ramanagara district in Karnataka

Website or social media url(s)

Date Started


Project Stage

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €50k - €100k

Organization Type

  • Nonprofit/NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

Ms.Vanaja Ramprasad began her work in 1992 with women farmers as a response to the declining biodiversity and loss of seed freedom among farmers in Karnataka. Her work began with five rural women farmers, a fistful of seeds, a small patch of land and a cattle shed. Inspite of tremendous odds and discouragement from all in the face of widespread adoption of High Yielding Varieties they made small but determined steps. Today they have been successful in conserving more than 210 varieties of seeds of millets, oilseeds, paddy and vegetables locally through the community organisations of women that have been promoted. Their conservation efforts can provide some ways to tackle the declining agriculture and impacts of climate change.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The women farmers with their organisations today are the custodians of a rich biodiversity. They are still struggling to get a decent livelihood based on it. The consumers and children of today even in nearby areas have no knowledge and appreciation of the local biodiversity. Setting up an Eco Center at Kanakapura would provide an opportunity for farmers to share their knowledge and a market for their produce and for people to appreciate the work done and its importance in today's context.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Setting up an Eco Center which will serve the interests and needs of the farmers besides acting as Knowledge Centre for people from outside the local area. Design and conduct sophisticated experiential learning experiences for outsiders including children to learn and understand about biodiversity and its conservation through the journey and experience of GREEN Foundation. Act as the flagship retail outlet for the organic indigenous foods both processed and non processed. Act as Training Centre for other farmers, organic enthusiasts and change agents (other NGOs). The training's would be tailored to meet the needs of different people and would include topics such as sustainable agriculture, agro biodiversity, organic gardening, conservation of ecology and environment, promotion of local food options etc. It will act as a live-demonstration site where where local indigenous varieties are grown. It will also work on promoting the place as an eco recreational site where families and children can learn ecological nuances through planned educational cum recreational activities. An organic kitchen will be set up to encourage usage of local varieties in food preparations.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

Setting up an Eco Centre with focus on Sustainable Agricultural Practices and Agrobiodiversity conservation based on work of nearly three decades with women of two generations is a unique proposition. It will be an initiative owned and managed by the community through their own organisations set up for the work with the support of professionals from GREEN Foundation. It will provide a base for educating, enabling and empowering farmers, agriculturists, organic enthusiasts, social entrepreneurs and change agents with adequate knowledge base and skill set while preserving the agro biodiversity and continuing the research further. It is unique as it a live demonstration based on years of work on the ground and led by the local community.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

Collaboration is one of the key ways in which the work has reached so far. The collaboration has been on multiple fronts - one on the work itself locally and for expanding the work through other partners, working with other knowledge partners local, national and international such as ICRISAT, UNDP, RRA networks etc, funding partners who have supported the work and various others. Also the work from the beginning involved doing research on the ground to working on the policy side as well The initiative seeks to bring key players together such as the local community and others outside, farmers, youth, agripreneurs, market representatives etc which will help sustain the work on the ground and support the livelihoods of the local community. It can provide an opportunity for companies to take up their CSR work and help create new markets for the rich, diverse and nutritious local organic produce. We would be open to expand the opportunities for collaboration with like minded entities.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

Some of the major achievements of GREEN Foundation are 1. Conservation of 110 varieties of finger millet, 60 varieties of paddy, 6 varieties of oilseeds, 9 varieties of pulses and 25 varieties of vegetables. 2.Establishment of Community Seed Bank which is a unique effort to create a living gene bank through farmers 3.Setting up women owned Farmer Producer company 4. Working in collaboration with the farmers for the improvement of the agro ecology of the region 5. Instrumental in bringing in the concept of Participatory Guarantee system a civil society led movement and farmer led certification system 6. Promotion of community institutions which provide strong social capital for seeding various development interventions Currently working with 2500 small and marginal women farmers in nearly 50 villages. We are looking forward to increasing the number of women farmers reached and supporting their livelihoods and increasing their incomes. And number of initiatives inspired by it.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

The Eco Centre concept will help us intensify the impact first upon the local communities with whom we are working. It will be an acknowledgement and recognition of the work they have done so far. They would be the teachers, trainers and demonstrators for the work done which will be more inspiring and acceptable by others in the farming community. This will help open up newer market opportunities for the locally grown organic produce which will be an incentive for the farmers to continue its cultivation. It can open up scope for new research and policy initiatives as it will create more exposure to the work done here. Training other farmers, NGOs and others interested will be another way to scale up the impact.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

The community has been creating value for the society by taking up the conservation work on a scale and sustained over years. The more visibility they get the scope for their work to get adopted by others within the country and abroad is very high. They have done pioneering work on setting up community Seed banks which will help preserve the fast disappearing agro biodiversity for future use. The varieties conserved have answers to how we can face the impacts of climate change and declining agriculture which is a huge value to society. The concept of the Participatory Guarantee system will help small farmers benefit from certification without the costly exercise involved.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

We see the opportunity of winning this prize to kick start the Eco Centre and bring it into action with a small and good beginning. Once we get started are confident of getting more partners to support in multiple ways not necessarily in financial terms. We also see there is a large opportunity to generate some revenues from the activities taken up such as eco tourism potential, marketing of produce both processed and non processed. Opening up of new markets and marketing channels for the community and new partners to support the initiative. We expect this to happen in the short to medium term. The activities of the Eco Centre will have the potential to generate income to not only take care of its cost but also surplus to invest back.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Currently there are 8 staff full time with Sandip Pattanayak as its chief Executive. The Board members are eminent people including the Founder. They provide the strategic guidance required and bring in any expertise required through their networks. The focus will be using and creating more number of Community Resource Persons to provide the services for within the community as well as outsiders. It will provide the authenticity and recognize the local knowledge and wisdom.

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact
  • Email

Evaluation results

6 evaluations so far


Yes, absolutely! - 50%

Yes/maybe - 16.7%

Maybe - 33.3%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%


5 —Absolutely! It’s crystal clear how the solution is directly contributing to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity. - 33.3%

4—Yes, it establishes a clear connection to biodiversity. - 50%

3—Somewhat, the entry speaks to biodiversity but the direct impact is not well established and/or it is focused on a single species without considering its impact on the broader ecosystem - 0%

2—Not really, the connection to biodiversity is weak - 16.7%

1—No. The entry does not reference the solution’s impact on biodiversity. - 0%

3. 3) Is this entry IMPACTFUL?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 33.3%

4- Yes, I think so. - 50%

3- Maybe. - 16.7%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

4. 4) Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 40%

4- Yes, I think so. - 40%

3- Maybe. - 20%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

5. 5) Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 33.3%

4- Yes, I think so. - 33.3%

3- Maybe. - 33.3%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%


5 -Yes, absolutely! - 40%

4- Yes, I think so. - 20%

3- Maybe. - 40%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

7. 7) Does this entry value COLLABORATION WITH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS in its approach?

5- Yes, absolutely! - 50%

4- Yes, I think ko. - 16.7%

3- Maybe. - 33.3%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

8. 8) FEEDBACK – Highlights

INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions - 75%

IMPACT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 75%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 25%

VIABIBLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 100%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 50%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 50%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 25%

Other option - 0%

9. 9) FEEDBACK - Areas for Improvement

INNOVATION: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 0%

IMPACT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 33.3%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 100%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 33.3%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: your plan can benefit from more thought on how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 33.3%

WRITING STYLE: Try to be more concise, descriptive, clear, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 33.3%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming - 0%

Other option - 0%


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