Photo: Roshan Pudasaini, LI-BIRD

SAKs Approach: Helping Farmers to Increase Farm Income and Reduce Farming Drudgery


Posted on: 3/12/2018

By: Sajal Sthapit, Roshan Pudasaini and Manish N Raizada

It is often assumed that farmers when knowing about a new innovation (a tool or practice) that works will readily adopt it. However, great innovations often take several decades before being widely adopted, and majority of them never get adopted at all. For ensuring the adoption of an innovation, it has to primarily be suitable for a particular context, and be accessible to farmers in terms of information or affordability. The main focus of Sustainable Agriculture Kits (SAKs) is to make existing innovations accessible to the farmers. 

The SAK approach as articulated by Prof. Manish N Raizada, works on the idea that there are several low cost innovations that can help smallholder farmers reduce drudgery and increase productivity, and that the farmers will buy such innovations on their own if they are affordable and can get immediate benefits using them. The approach marries the comparative advantages of non-profit non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and for-profit private enterprises, in which the former takes the lead in testing phase and the latter works in the marketing phase. 

Ms. Pabitra Nepali, a farmer of Majhthana, Kaski, using corn sheller to thresh maize. Photo: Roshan Pudasaini 

During the testing phase, NGOs tests a number of innovations among the farmers to analyze which innovations can win their confidence for potential ‘champion innovations’. After the identification of champion innovations, the private sector procures and supplies these innovations to the community through its distribution channels. In this process, traditional extension services, development NGOs and community based organizations are crucial for scaling up the innovations that are based on knowledge and package of practices such as intercropping of ginger with maize or cultivating yam in sacks. While the traditional extension model picks one or few innovations to promote and support, the SAK approach starts with a few dozen innovations that could collectively address multiple need of the community. From those options, an individual farming household is likely to find a set that works for its context. The smaller sets that have been vetted in the target community are then taken up by private enterprises and distribution networks to supply to eager customers in an efficient manner at an affordable price. 

Based on the aforementioned SAK approach, the SAK Nepal, funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and implemented by University of Guelph and LI-BIRD, conducted detailed assessment among communities in Kaski and Dhading. The project selected 25 practices and 21 tools as part of SAK menu and tested them among those communities using six criteria: relative advantage, compatible, simple, amenable to trial by farmers, visible effectiveness and affordable to evaluate the adoption potential of these innovations. On the basis of the criteria, the farmers adopted the following practices: cultivating yam in sacks, intercropping ginger in maize, growing legumes on terrace wall and water harvesting for drip irrigated vegetable production. Among the tools and products, they preferred hand held corn sheller, farm rake, vegetable composite kit, super grain bag and silpaulin sheet. Women farmers preferred hand held corn sheller to table based corn sheller for its portability, price and ease of use. Women are involved in repetitive task such as shelling corn, which at hind sight appears simple but is prone to injuries and blisters. Hence, the low cost tools of SAKs is both time saving as well as drudgery reducing.

Tested technologies--practices and tools (or products) -- comprising the SAK menu to address the challenges in terraces farming system. 

Challenges

#Tested innovations

Selected innovation for scaling up

Female drudgery

15 products

8 Products

1.        Hand held corn sheller

2.        Farm rake

3.        Fork weeder

4.        Electric millet thresher

5.        Hand gloves

6.        Super grain bag

7.        Grain mill

8.        Fruit picker

Limited surface area

7 practices

3 Practices

1.        Yam on sack

2.        Pumpkin and chayote on terrace wall

3.        Legumes on terrace edge

Mechanization in narrow plots

4 products

1 Product

1.      Mini tiller

Low productivity

15 practices, 2 products

7 Practices

1.        Maize-Cowpea intercropping

2.        Millet-Soyabean intercropping

3.        Mustard-Pea intercropping

4.        Ginger-Maize-Soyabean intercropping

5.        Lentil/Pea in dry winter

6.        Vegetable in plastic house integrated with water harvesting and drip irrigation

7.        Hybrid maize seed production

1 Product
     1.        Composite vegetable seed kit

Soil erosion

3 practices

1 Practice
     1.        Improving cattle shed and farm yard manure

 

Scaling up progress

SN

Products (sold by APL all over the country)

Price (NPR)

# Self paid by farmers

# Subsidized (by NGOs, Government

   # TOTAL

Male as primary user

Female as primary user

1

Hand held corn sheller

200

14928

3646

18574

19%

81%

2

Vegetable kit

100

4621

20987

25608

8%

92%

3

Farm rake

300

819

1437

2256

11%

89%

4

Legume kit

250

5025

160

5185

10%

80%

5

Super grain bag

300

455

3700

4155

12%

88%

6

Silpaulin sheet

6000

17

64

81

40%

60%

7

Gloves

200

90

476

566

5%

95%

8

Drip irrigation set

4000

0

20

20

40%

60%

 

Sub total

 

25955

30490

56445

Avg  18%

Avg 82%

 

Practices (scaled out around the project sites)*

 

 

 

 

 

1

Millet thresher**

56000

1

11

12

19%

81%

2

Drip irrigation-tunnel

15000

11

265

276

47%

53%

3

Cattle shed improvement

10000

48

108

156

50%

51%

4

Yam on sack

40

60

125

185

43%

57%

Sub total

 

120

509

629

Avg 40%

Avg 60%

Grand Total

 

26075

30999

57074

Avg 29%

Avg 71%

 

For more information, please refer to the following publications:

Sustainable Agriculture Kits (SAKs) Reduce Drudgery And Increase Farm Income

Testing And Scaling Up Of Sustainable Agriculture Kits  

A Model For NGO And Private Sector Partnership For Scaling Up SAKs