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In India, there is a strong and direct relationship among agricultural productivity, hunger and poverty. Many farmers struggle to produce enough food on small parcels of land — in fact, it is estimated that between 70 and 80 percent of farmers in India have landholdings of less than 2 hectares. In the districts of Mewat and Alwar, two of India’s most impoverished and isolated areas, Mosaic has partnered with the Sehgal Foundation to create the Krishi Jyoti Project.

Krishi Jyoti means “enlightened agriculture,” and it’s bringing modern agricultural inputs and practices to rural farmers in Mewat and Alwar with the goal of improving the productivity of their fields. Both Mewat and Alwar are remote communities with little access to the technological advances that are available to those living closer to India’s major metropolitan areas. Similar programs in this area have failed in the past due to a top-down approach of program sponsors and a lack of buy-in from beneficiaries. The Krishi Jyoti team takes a more collaborative approach that treats farmers as partners. Working side by side with the farmers, this program has built a foundation of trust and collaboration to achieve sustainable agriculture improvements for some of India’s most vulnerable citizens.

In the first three years, Krishi Jyoti focused on five key aspects of agricultural improvement — soil health, seed and fertilizer, water management, agronomic training and market linkages — and brought about remarkable changes. With the help of Mosaic’s products, agronomic expertise and financial support, participating farmers greatly increased their yields. The program for individual farmers lasts for three years, with one of the goals of Krishi Jyoti being that participants become self-sufficient during that time period.

In total, Krishi Jyoti has now reached 45 villages in the Mewat and Alwar districts. In total, nearly 9,000 acres of land have been cultivated and the project has directly benefited more than 20,000 farmers.

Water Management

In rural India, water management is also a critical issue for farmers as well as the surrounding communities. Seasonal monsoons alternate with long, dry periods, making it difficult to maintain an adequate groundwater supply. The Mosaic Villages Project funded and managed the construction of four new check dams, in the villages of Santhawadi, Pathkhori, Nangal Hasanpur and Khohar.

By constructing check dams, rainwater is captured and stored—which recharges groundwater levels and can be used for irrigation. Together the dams benefit approximately 17,000 people, and have a total reservoir capacity of over 14 million gallons.

When smallholder farmers improve yields enough to feed their families and sell their surplus crops, the whole community benefits—from better nutrition and improved water availability, to improvements in the local education system. The Mosaic Villages Project funded renovations to schools in the villages of Jatka-Siswana, Dungar Shahzadpur, Raniyali, and Santhawari.

School Renovations

Improvements included general repairs, sanitation additions (with separate facilities for boys and girls), safe drinking water systems, and a school kitchen. The project has benefited approximately 1,250 students in total, and the Government Middle School in Dungran Shahzadpur won two recent awards related to the improvements.