Welcome to The Age of Restoration
Author: Shikhita Gupta and Karthik Chandrasekar
We have all heard the words, “Environment” and “Ecosystem” many times.
But what is it?
Well, the Environment is the surrounding that consists of all living (biotic) organisms (humans, animals, insects, birds, plants, etc) and non-living (abiotic) components (soil, water, sunlight, climate, etc) around us and helps us to survive. Whereas Ecosystem is the functional unit of nature wherein all living and non-living components interact with each other. If one part of it is damaged or vanishes, it impacts all others on the web. There are primarily 2 types of natural ecosystems; a) Terrestrial and b) Aquatic. The terrestrial ecosystem majorly consists of forest, desert, rainforest, grassland, tundra, savanna, and mountain ecosystems. And the Aquatic ecosystem consists of marine and freshwater ecosystems. There is also a man-made ecosystem that is known as Crop-Land (or Farmland) Ecosystem.
Humans are dependent on natural resources for food, shelter, water, energy, and other essentials. To date, humans in almost all cases have overexploited or perturbed (sometimes we just add polluting elements into ecosystems) every ecosystem on the planet to meet our development needs — be it land, water, animals, or plants. This has pushed most of the ecosystems to a tipping point.
Photo Courtesy: Marita Kavelashvili
We cannot go back in time and change what we have done, but we can surely restore and preserve as much as we can. Welcome to the Age of Restoration!
Since 1974, World Environment Day is being celebrated every year on 5 June by the United Nations (UN). UN has developed a global platform dedicated to raise awareness and take action on urgent issues by engaging governments, businesses, and citizens to address pressing environmental issues. The theme for World Environment Day 2021 is “Ecosystem Restoration”. Ecosystem restoration means preventing, halting, and reversing the damage caused — to go from exploiting nature to healing it. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a global rallying cry to heal our planet. It aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean which can help end poverty, combat climate change and prevent mass extinction.
The United Nations have decided to focus on 8 primary types of ecosystems to kick off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration — Farmlands, Forests, Lakes & Rivers, Grasslands & Savannahs, Mountains, Oceans & Coasts, Peatlands and finally the Urban areas. It is a global mission to revive billions of hectares, from forests to farmlands, from the top of mountains to the depth of the sea.
How Sangam Plans to Contribute?
The world’s population is expected to grow to 10 billion in 2050. To meet future food demand, we need to increase our food production by 50%. ~146 million farmers and their families in India, rely on agriculture for their livelihood, of which 86% are small and marginal farmers. These farmers have one of the lowest levels of on-farm agricultural productivity in the world. The reason can be attributed to degraded soil (excessive tillage of topsoil, groundwater exploitation, etc), intensive agriculture (monocropping), crop loss and wastage, unpredictable weather patterns, and high input cost due to heavy use of fertilizers and chemicals.
We believe, that, to leapfrog into a more sustainable future, the way we produce, distribute, and consume food and our relationship with the land and the people that feed us needs to change.
We at Sangam are doing our bit, by supporting entrepreneurs and farmers to drive wide-scale adoption of regenerative agriculture through our Emerging India Acceleration Program 3.0 (EIAP 3.0). The program is designed to promote institutional cooperative structures and rural agriculture SMEs to improve investments in value-addition assets closer to the farm gate. We are targeting SMEs that leverage indigenous produce and natural resources to meet local demand or export high-value agricultural produce with Geographical Indications (GI) to global and regional markets. We believe these SMEs can provide livelihood opportunities for local communities and drive local wealth creation while aiding regenerative agriculture, sustainable energy technology adoption, and climate change resilience at scale.
We are focused to drive investments from an extractive to a regenerative pathway for the development of agriculture by helping the farmers invest in their soils through conservation agriculture practices and better watershed management, preserve local biodiversity, and reduce the GHG footprint of farm produce and eliminate waste from the agriculture value chain.
But this program would not be possible without the support of our sponsors — DOEN Foundation — and Good Energies Foundation who are dedicated to creating an inclusive society and reversing climate change.
We are also, happy to have Samunnati Foundation, Centre For Sustainable Agriculture, Assam Startup (NEST), IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, AIC — Sikkim Manipal University, and last but not least, NEDFi Venture Capital Limited for their continuous support as program and knowledge partners.
We have selected a promising cohort of 13 organizations: 7 farmer-owned organizations (FPOs) and 6 startups from North-East and South India with 5 women-led organizations. Scroll down to catch a peek at these amazing organizations we are excited about!
1. Birangana Mahila Producer Company, Assam
The women of Birangana Mahila FPC, Image taken by Sangam team on a field visit
An all-women organization with 2189 farmers from the local tribal community involved in Turmeric, black rice, and maize cultivation. The FPC is not only streamlining the demand & supply gap but also extending advisory and credit services to its members. The organization is following regenerative agriculture practices like multi-cropping and crop rotation.
2. Boko Pineapple Producer Company Limited, Assam
Farmer member of Boko Pineapple PC, Image Credit: Sangam team
Boko FPC is working with 500+ farmers with a consolidated landholding of 528 Ha in the local region cultivating pineapple. They are playing a major role in unlocking the hidden agri-business potential of Assam through technology adoption, capacity building, and market linkage aimed at fostering livelihood, income security, social stability, trading, and export the best quality processed food products (especially from fruits, e.g., Pineapple).
3. Jawadhu Hills Women Entrepreneur Federation, Tamil Nadu
A tribal women producer organization working with 200 tribal women of Jawadhu hills improves livelihoods through climate-resilient agriculture and provides them market linkages of their product or value-added products (brand name BAYA). They are actively working to bring community-driven solutions at a scale to eliminate inequities and marginalization in the agribusiness industry.
4. Molsang Organic Pineapples Producer Company Limited, Nagaland
Molsang FPC is spread over 800Ha with 500 farmers and production of ~5000 MT of pineapple. With a focus on regenerative agriculture, the FPC is on a mission to help add value to the produce of all its farmer members by investing in bringing value-addition closer to the farm gate and get ready for export.
5. Panbari Bodofa Agro Organic Producer Company, Assam
Located in Kokrajhar, Assam the company is working with 1000 farmers and 900 Ha of expandable land, their main focus is on the cultivation of the native Assam Lemon, Turmeric (Lakadong & Local variety), and Banana through regenerative agricultural practices.
6. Rakdong Tintek Organic FPO, Sikkim
Rakdong is strongly focused on improving soil fertility through regenerative agriculture. Their farmer members cultivate Buckwheat, Ginger & Orange. The FPO is already processing orange and supplying it to a local entity and very soon look to value-add the other 2 products as well.
7. Black Baza Coffee Co., Karnataka
Black Baza Coffee is an enabling organization that is sustainably sourcing coffee from small tribal farmers in South India. They are creating a marketplace for shade-grown coffee and for coffee drinkers to make conscious choices to drink coffee. Currently working with 3 FPOs (Kerala, Tamil Nadu & Karnataka) with an average member size of 392 members, Black Baza Coffee is setting a leading role in creating a production and market system that values producers and nature equally.
8. Bornoi Organics Pvt Ltd, Assam
Bornoi Organics is working on an indigenously grown highly resilient highly nutritional crop like Bornoi’s Bau-dhan (or Bau-rice), which is flood-resistant, reducing crop loss and increasing small-holder farmer income. They are also doing value addition to drive local consumption of this indigenous rice variety while focusing on natural farming practices.
9. Esah Tea — Ruloi Tea Trading Pvt Ltd, Assam
The company’s primary focus is on Sustainable Agriculture & handmade single-origin organic teas, flavored teas, and traditional tea wares of the region. Esah is working with small tea growers of Assam, focusing on the chemical-free cultivation of tea and strong on-ground partners to assist them with the implementation of sustainable agriculture practices.
10. Pabhoi Greens Pvt Ltd, Assam
Pabhoi is focused on the input side of regenerative agriculture practices by providing local smallholder farmers with seeds, bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides, and training on integrated farming and seed production. It is among the first companies to start the propagation and multiplication of organic seeds in North-East India.
11. Krishi Janani Pvt Ltd, Tamil Nadu
The company is working towards creating a regenerative ecosystem for farmers, consumers, & the planet. It is an agritech marketplace creating economic incentives for farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture by enabling small farmers to practice profitable and regenerative agroecology by accessing high-value specialty markets while helping socially conscious companies source-verified and traceable organic produce from small farmers.
12. Savorit (Ryansan Creation Pvt Ltd), Meghalaya
Drying ginger cultivated by farmer partners of Savourit, Image Credit: Sangam
Savourit manufactures dehydrated fruits, jams, and pickles to assist farmers to curtail the wastage of fruits, especially during peak season, and also to add value to the seasonal fruits and vegetables through their dehydration technology. The company is helping in bridging the gap in the value chain of agriculture and horticulture crops through a unique process of food preservation technique that is eco-friendly and supports human capital and promotes livelihood. Presently they are working with 30+ farmers belonging to women SHGs and individual farmers.
13. Taret Foods Pvt Ltd, Manipur
With a special focus on socially conscious and quality foods, Taret is providing much-needed market linkage to farmers cultivating black rice while improving their income through value additions at the farm gate. The team is focusing on sustainable agriculture and gender parity in the process.
We will be working closely with these organizations along with our supporters and partners to share our learnings as we move ahead with the program. If you are interested to know more about our cohort and the agri-produce they are dealing with, please get in touch with us for more details.
We will only succeed if everyone plays a part!
Blog Credits: Shikhita Gupta
1. Environment and Ecosystem, Components of an Ecosystem | PMF IAS
2. Environment & Ecosystem Science (EES)
4. UNEP(2021). A beginner’s guide to Ecosystem Restoration. Available at: https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/beginners-guide-ecosystem-restoration