Bhopal: The Regenerative Production Landscape Collaborative (RPL Collaborative), founded by Laudes Foundation, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative, and WWF India, has kickstarted the formation of public-private-community partnerships (Compacts) between Inditex, H&M Group, IKEA, Neutral, PepsiCo India, Sammunnati Finance, Jayanti Spices, INI Farms and S.V. Agri. The multi-stakeholder Compact also includes key-decision makers such as civil society organisations SRIJAN, Action for Social Advancement, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme; and farmer producer organisations.
The first Compact is being formed in Chhindwara District, Madhya Pradesh (MP), which will reach 20,000 farmers, and bring 20,000 hectares under regenerative agricultural practices. The second Compact will cover eight districts in western Madhya Pradesh, including parts of the Narmada Basin to reach 120,000 farmers in the State.
The RPL Collaborative contributes to revitalising soil health, boosting smallholder farmer incomes, improving access to water, enhancing biodiversity, and addressing gender equity through the multi-stakeholder Compacts. Members of a Compact work together to leverage sustainability and social commitments at scale and mobilize financial support for sustainability projects at the landscape level. It allows businesses to source responsibly while creating inclusive supply chain relationships, provides smallholder farmers and communities to thrive through greater participation in decision-making, and lets producers grow agri-commodities using natural and regenerative farming principles that restore natural resources and reduce emissions from farming systems.
Mr. Ajit Kesari, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Farmer Welfare and Agriculture, Government of Madhya Pradesh formally announced the Compact at an event in Bhopal. He said, “Madhya Pradesh has been a frontrunner in sustainable agriculture. With our rich biodiversity, climatic diversity and topographical variations, we take pride in contributing to ~8% of the total food grain and ~25% of total pulse and oil seeds production in India. To reduce the impact of climate shocks we are heavily committed to promoting regenerative and landscape- based agriculture. This Compact will funnel investments into the region, enable better markets for farmers, ensure credit access and convergence with government policies and encourage companies to source sustainably.”
Ms Preeti Maithil Nayak, IAS, Director, Farmer Welfare and Agriculture Development, Government of Madhya Pradesh said, “Madhya Pradesh is one of the leading states in terms of agriculture potential and productivity. However, we need a fresh approach to farming for food security and a better environment. In view of this, the Madhya Pradesh government has launched a crop diversification promotion scheme to promote crop diversification and investments in agriculture. We look forward to joining hands with the industry stakeholders in the RPL Collaborative to support the farmers.”
Ms Anita Chester, Partner Designate, Laudes India LLP said: “I am excited to see how the RPL Collaborative has grown. It is a unique multi-stakeholder initiative helping to address climate change and inequality, and catalyse system change from soil to society. The formation of these public-private-community partnerships are driving transition towards an inclusive, climate-positive economy, and I encourage businesses, investors, donor communities and producers to continue working together on regenerative landscape-based practices and steering the course for impact in the region.”
Highlighting the importance of sustainable sourcing in the collaborative, Mr Daan Wensing, Chief Executive Officer, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative said, “The existing state of agricultural production and ecosystem management requires system transformation. We need to make the shift to regenerative agriculture, to make our food and agricultural systems able to adapt to climate change. And at the same time, we need to make sure farmers own enough to invest in their own futures. The private sector can play a huge role in catalysing systems change by sourcing sustainably, investing, bringing its scale, and working together on finding new pathways towards a sustainable future.”
Ms. Vidya Soundarajan, Director, Ecological Footprint, WWF India said, “The Collaborative offers a platform for bringing in the varied actors to help maintain the integrity of the landscape and enhance the climate resilience and ecosystem benefits to the community - which forms the core of our focus”
The RPL Collaborative and CGIAR- International Rice Research Institute recently conducted a baseline landscapes diagnostics of the first compact in Chhindwara using comprehensive and complementary approaches such as household surveys, GIS and remote sensing and high-tech laboratory soil assessment.
Some of the key highlights of the baseline findings in the first compact are:
· Farmer Incomes: Over 90% of farmers are dependent on agriculture as their main source of income. Annual gross income on average is INR 1,28,000.
· Access to Internet: While 95% farmers have access to a mobile phone, less than half have access to the internet.
· Crop Diversification: 98% landowners cultivated their field in kharif season but only 53% in Rabi season. The rest is fallow. Most of the landowners in the landscape cultivate only 1-2 crops in a year.
· Crop Productivity: There is a high yield gap in the region where the major cultivated crops such as cotton, maize, tur, soyabean, wheat and gram have a lower yield (up to 11 quintals/acre) than the state average and the attainable yields of these crops.
· Adoption of Sustainable Agriculture Practices: Only 25% farmers have partially adopted at least one regenerative practice on their farms.
· Agro forestry: Only 10% farmers are involved in Agroforestry which is beneficial to both farmer incomes and environment.
· Soil Health: Soil Health is poor with low nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and carbon. Farmers use of organic manure is low and reliance on pesticides and fertilizers is high.