Roots Foundation, a non-profit organization that works with the agricultural communities at the grassroots PAN-India, has launched Project Sahyog – a unique initiative that focuses on advocacy and awareness amongst farmers on the benefits of proper application of agrochemicals. The project also includes making available efficient spraying equipment to farmers (Boom Sprayers), training them in the appropriate use of such equipment, and entrepreneurship development.
This extensive 6-month project is launched in association with PI Foundation, the CSR wing of PI Industries, a responsible corporate in the agrochemicals space. It has 100 direct beneficiaries in Punjab and Haryana, to whom new Boom Sprayers have been distributed free of cost. Additionally, more than 5000 farmers and applicators in selected districts of Punjab and Haryana will be indirect beneficiaries who will be made aware of the benefits of this equipment.
The Foundation, which has been working with more than two lakh farmers in the region on promoting various good agriculture practices since 2017, aims to encourage farmers to adopt these best practices and ensure long-lasting behavioral changes with reinforcement by progressive farmers and the community.
“Project Sahyog is about ensuring reduced agrochemical-related health hazards to farmers and to end consumers and reduced adverse impact to the soil and the environment”, said Ritwik Bahuguna, founder, Roots Foundation. “The Project also aims at ensuring increased incomes with entrepreneurship opportunities among these select farmers as they lease out the equipment and transfer knowledge to other farmers,” he further added.
The senior leadership of PI Industries, represented by Dushyant Sood and Manoj Bhandari, highlighted the role of PI Industries as a responsible corporate with concrete commitments towards the preservation of the environment and livelihood enhancement of the farming community. The PI team, one of the leaders in the Punjab and Haryana regions, reiterated its commitment to the overall development of the area through its various initiatives, including Project Sahyog.
State government officials, taking note of the launch of Project Sahyog, appreciated the contribution of Roots Foundation and PI Industries in the domain of agriculture and farmers’ welfare while underlining various government initiatives that aim to maintain a balance between increased agricultural productivity and environmental conservation.
Amarjit Singh, chief agriculture officer, Ludhiana, and Mahesh Kumar Narang, principal extension scientist, Department of Farm Machinery and Power Engineering, also participated in the event.
The over usage of agrochemicals is rampant in different parts of the country, including in Haryana & Punjab. Various findings have pointed out the lack of awareness and training on the safety measures and non-adherence to recommended dosages by farmers during agrochemical application on crops. The same has been emphasized by our government and various universities from time to time. The excess caused due to conventional agricultural spraying techniques has resulted in an imbalance between production, productivity, growth, and the environment. The result has been an adverse impact on human health, soil, and the environment.
About 385 million farmers and agriculture workers are poisoned by pesticides every year by using the existing manual processes. It has been observed in many places that farmers use bike helmets to protect themselves from agrochemicals' drift during the spraying process.
The need of the hour is to ensure that farmers are trained in the effective application of various agrochemicals to crops. This not only requires advocacy, awareness, and training but also requires the availability of efficient spraying equipment, proper calibration, and the know-how for farmers to use them. Project Sahyog aims to undertake this with the Punjab and Haryana farmers.