Strengthen Livelihood in rural areas while promoting sustainable agriculture practices.

Capacity building of the poor grassroots small and marginal women farmer members to bring them out from vicious circle of poverty & hunger.

Photo of Rehana Riyawala
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name


Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $100k - $250k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • More than 100,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • India

Headquarters location: City

Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Location(s) of impact

India: Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh- Lucknow, Kerala, Bihar, Assam and Meghalaya.

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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

¾ of SEWA membership comes from rural area& majority of them are in agriculture with small land holdings of <2 hectares, depends on rainfed resulting unpredictable yields & low income. These women work as agricultural laborers or as other laborers to supplement livelihood. They remained hungry & income ridden due to non accessibility to innovations, less knowledge, lack of certified inputs, high input cost, minimal access to credit, poor bargaining power forcing members to migrate to urban area & turn casual laborers.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Given the challenges, these small and marginal farmers of SEWA initiated Agriculture Campaign where grassroot women members organize them in various form of organizations – Groups, Cooperatives, Federations etc. to facilitate in enhancing their technical skills, linking with technical research & marketing organizations, collectively purchasing agriculture inputs eg seeds, fertilizers and equipments at lower rates, initiating alternative income generation activities such as agro forestry, horticulture, vermiculture, compost manufacturing. SEWA initiated practicing and promoting Climate resilient measures among its members to bring benefits to poor farmer members. SEWA set up RUDI to address food security issues at both the ends production & consumption through a model managed by the beneficiaries themselves. The conceptualization of Agricultural campaign not only strengthening income of small and marginal farmers, reducing forced migration to urban areas, eradicating hunger & poverty.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Agriculture Campaign brings innovative ways of cropping learned & implemented by the poor grass members in enhancing their crop yields & income and climate mitigation through various interventions. Approx 18,000 farmer members are using vermi compost to enrich their farms across 620 villages, 15422 members with increased technical capacities/ agriculture practices, 1316 members with market linkages / information, 7 Tools & Equipment libraries etc. More than 10 million saplings are planted by poor members contributing in reducing level of carbon dioxide; each plant consumes 700ppm of carbon dioxide per week. RUDI Multi Trading Company, one of SEWA’s pioneering initiative has reached more than 1 lakh families providing food security, linked 20,782 small and marginal farmers, 2500+ RUDIbens earning livelihood of Rs2000-5000/-per month through marketing of RUDI Products. 600 members are working in RUDI processing centre earns income between Rs7000-10,000/-/- per month. The entire

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

In Initial phase, the campaign was supported through the grants wherein the members were given trainings on agricultural practices. And further working towards sustainability through various ways i.e. establishing local collectives – groups, cooperatives, federations owned & managed by grassroot women members involved in trainings by master trainers, credit linkages, direct market information / linkages, licenses for inputs seeds & fertilizers etc. SEWA always thrive to achieve financial sustainability for its members in the long run. With community participation SEWA established field schools, tools & equipment library, RUDI processing centers etc. Thus nominal fees for training, rent for lending tools & equipment, marketing of agro products etc. work towards financial sustainability.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

SEWA believes that the economic power cannot only be left in the hands of those who have capital or to governments; but the poor community members of the informal economy must also conceive, build & expand their own collectives & organization owned & managed by themselves linking up to mainstream economy, thereby becoming the owners & managers of their own collectives / organizations. To name few of such grassroot initiatives- Vanlaxmi Women Tree Growers Cooperative, SEWA Gram Mahila Haat etc.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

“If the cost of inputs increases any further we will stop doing farming”, “We cannot go out & sell the produce as it is a very small quantity & merchants would not be willing to buy it”, “when mechanical implements were not present, we used to work for 6 months, while now we hardly find work for 15-20 days.” “Why does a farmer remain hungry?” are few of such situations which gave birth to SEWA’s agriculture understanding that agriculture is a key source of livelihood for SEWA’s majority of members. They work as agricultural laborers or casual labour to supplement their livelihood. SEWA was initiated to better understand the issues, to identify the types of the safeguards needed to provide economic security to small and marginal farmers / agricultural workers and to develop strategic interventions.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Really interesting and promising initiative. Good luck for the next steps. Best regards.

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