Friday, April 8, 2011

Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture – A Path Way out of Poverty

Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA) refers to low cost, natural resource based agriculture managed by women SHGs in Andhra Pradesh. CMSA is initiated in the year 2004 in Mahabubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh to address the major causes of agriculture distress like high costs of agriculture, extensive use of chemical inputs, displacement of local knowledge, unsustainable agricultural practices like mono cropping, markets unfavorable to small holders, etc.
Main objective of the CMSA is to bring sustainability to agriculture based livelihoods, to improve quality of life of farmers, and to increase net incomes of the farming community.
Methods promoted under CMSA are blend of scientifically proven technology, traditional wisdom, and, farmers’ innovations. CMSA methods are mainly focusing on Non-Pesticide Management (NPM), Comprehensive soil fertility Management, and harvesting rain water, soil conservation and improved cropping pattern in rain fed areas. Over a period of time these methods are building good ecology, where there is a balance between friendly insects and crop pests, increased role of local earthworms and other soil microbes, increased ground water etc.
The results of the intervention have been so beneficial to the farmers that there has been an exponential increase in the area under sustainable agriculture. It is an expansion driven by the positive experience of the farmers. There are no predetermined targets. CMSA is scaled up from 450 farmers to 10.47 lakh farmers in 7 years. CMSA is now covered 27 lakh acres in 8033 villages in 22 districts.
The Key features of CMSA are decentralized extension system owned and managed by community, collection of farmers registration fee, natural resourced based agriculture, Comprehensive livelihoods support and not a standalone intervention, providing end – to end solution, investment is on capacity building, no input subsidy and transfer of technology is through best practitioners. The flagship components of the Program are Poorest of the Poor strategy (POP strategy- converting “land less agriculture labourer” into “net food producer”), Rain fed Sustainable Agriculture, System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and Food and Nutritional Security Models (36X36 models) at house hold level. These programs contributed towards increasing income levels of farmers, come out of poverty, conserving and enhancing natural resource base and providing food and nutritional security at house hold level.
No matter how good the technology is, without peoples’ involvement and strong grassroots institutions it will confined to laboratories or universities. The issue of long term food security and adaptation to climate change is so important that we cannot just have a ‘scientific’ or ‘technology’ solution. We need a ‘people’ centred solution, CMSA is one such solution.
CMSA promoting drudgery reduction infrastructure i.e CMSA shops and custom hiring centers etc at village level which helps in reducing drudgery in farming.  
Practices under CMSA are pro-poor and poorest of the poor are the first to adopt these methods. These are intensive models and require more labour. CMSA makes farmers free from debts and enable them to come out of poverty.