Women Led Climate Resilient Farming Model: Making farming viable for small and marginal farming households

This model addresses food security income security natural resource management by empowering grassroots women as farmers and decision makers

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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

Swayam Shikshan Prayog

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)

  • $500k - $1m

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • More than 100,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • India

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

India: Osmanabad, Solapur, Latur, Nanded, Washim, Beed



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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

In the water scarce regions of Maharashtra marginal farmers are the most affected by climate change.These farmers are in distress since farming has become unviable as they grow cash crops like soya sugarcane which require more water and chemical inputs causing long term harm to their land groundwater and environment. This problem is further intensified as the key stakeholder of farming is left aside – the women. Globally 80% of poor farmers are women however have always been considered as mere labour on their own farms

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

This initiative focuses on women from the marginal and landless farming (0 to 4 acres) in drought prone Marathwada region. This model encourages women to gain cultivation from their families. On the acquired piece of land(starts with half or one acre) women practice climate resilient model which is use of bio fertilisers and pesticides preservation and exchange of local seeds, diversify from single to multiple food crops, increase in no. of crop cycles, choice of water efficient and short term crops. There is huge stress on water conservation through use of hydroponics, drip irrigation, sprinklers, farm ponds, recharging of bore wells, tree plantation and diversifying into agri allied businesses. Women lead the complete decision making around what to cultivate, what to sell, what to keep and eat, and where to sell, thus gaining control over income. This model addresses the issues of food security, income security, natural resource management and women empowerment all at the same time

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

Transformation of women in marginal farmer households by as farmers and decision makers on sustainable agriculture (so they take decisions around types of crops, inputs, food production, consumption, markets). Enhanced income security as a result of sale of surplus produce and diversifying into livestock and agri allied enterprise Shift from cash crops to food crops, now women and households have food from their own farms Complete shift from cash crops to farm grown chemical free, nutrition rich vegetables, pulses and food grains resulting in improved health of marginal farming households Protection of soil, water and land through bio farming, water harvesting and afforestation Reduced cost of farming by 40 % due to use of low input farming method such as use of own seeds, vermi compost, bio compost. Due to bio farming methods there is an improvement in the soil fertility and as a result there is 25% increase in productivity per acre

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

The activity has been scaled up in Maharashtra to more than 160 villages of 5 drought prone districts, reaching out to 20,000 women farmers. Presently, SSP has secured funding of 105 million INR, for next three years, for reaching out to 35000 women farmers in Maharashtra, through this model. For ensuring the sustainability, SSP has created a cadre of 500 women farmers leaders who can successfully transfer learnings and strategies to other geographies. It has also developed a model though which one mentor farmer can handhold other women farmers SSP is organising these women in farmer producer groups to introduce a market based approach and help women get the most competitive prices for their produces and operate beyond projects to replicate -Grants- 80% -Corporate contributions-20%

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

Through this model, from single identities as farm workers/labour, women have taken on multiple roles and gained new economic and social identities – as farmers-decision makers in agriculture and in their households, as entrepreneurs, grassroots advocates and climate leaders. Women are bringing key shifts in farming such as switch from cash crops to nutrition rich crops- vegetables, pulses, millets etc. Chemical farming to bio farming; promoting agri allied enterprises for enhanced resilience.

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

In 2008,SSP had started working in the health & nutrition and found that anaemia was prevalent issue among women and girls in the villages in Marathwada region During workshops women shared that the consumption of vegetables by them is very low. It was mainly related to the fact that women had no decisions making role-in the family and farms They had no say in choice of crops based on household need and men were only interested in growing cash crops instead of food crops. Despite recurrent drought in Marathwada region men farmers were not able to understand the shifts they needed to make and were further falling into the traps of poverty due mounting debts and no yield and lack of other livelihoods At that point it was established that better health and nutrition are linked closely to cultivating food crops and but more importantly to make these shifts women farmers need to take the lead

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

  • Ashoka page or contact
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Attachments (4)

Press Note_Equator.pdf

SSP is the Winner of Equator Prize 2017, the only organisation from India for its Women led Climate Resilient Farming Solution


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Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Great initiative. Congratulations.

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