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Interviews

In conversation with the Project Director of the HCL Foundation

Alok Varma, Project Director, HCL Foundation
Alok Varma, Project Director, HCL Foundation

HCL Foundation has recently partnered with Govt. of Uttar Pradesh and launched the “Centre for Agriculture and Technology Transfer For Training And Income Augmentation Of Farmers” In Hardoi.

In order to get more insights of this special initiative, Krishi Jagran interacted with Alok Varma, Project Director, HCL Foundation. As Project Director with HCL Foundation, Alok Varma leads HCL Samuday. He has played a key role in the conceptualization and creation of various programs and oversees their strategy and management aspects. Under his leadership, HCL Samuday has expanded its presence from 3 to 11 blocks in Hardoi district.

Explain briefly about HCL Samuday and the causes they have been working for?

HCL Samuday, a flagship rural development program of HCL Foundation, is an outcome of HCL’s commitment to uplift rural India. Established in 2015, it intends to develop a replicable model - a source code for Economic and Social Development of rural areas – across six parameters: Agriculture, Education, Health, Environment, Livelihood, and WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) and use it to build model villages. Samuday works in partnership with the state government, village communities, NGOs, knowledge institutions, and allied partners. It aims to help local communities to identify their problems, co-create solutions, and implement them on their own with professional support from Team Samuday.

What was the objective to launch “Centre for Agriculture and technology Transfer " and how is it going to help farmers?

The Center for Agriculture and Technology Transfer (CATT) has been established in Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh, in a joint initiative with the Department of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh, to provide training to farmers on modern farming techniques and technologies, to help improve crop yield, eventually supporting their income augmentation. The CATT, spread across five acres of land, has been established based on an MoU signed by the HCL Foundation and the Hardoi District Agriculture Department, UP in 2020. HCL Foundation will manage the CATT till 2023, and thereafter, it will be operated by the Agriculture Department, Government of Uttar Pradesh.

Currently, nearly 6,000 farmers from 11 blocks of Hardoi district have been selected for the various training sessions. The program will be expanded further to include all farmers of the district.

Are there any other initiatives that the HCL Foundation is planning to undertake for the farmers of the country?

HCL Samuday has been working since 2015 towards implementing various innovative programs in this direction. Some of these include sensitizing farmers about scientific farming practices, modern farming equipment, and institutionalization of farmer clubs to make agriculture less burdensome and more market-linked.

The way farming is done directly impacts the nutrition of the food we consume. Therefore, farmers must receive education around modern farm technologies and innovative techniques. HCL Samuday has been supporting farmers with sustainable, innovative, and cost-effective farming techniques. So far, over 66,000 farmers have benefited from HCL Samuday’s efforts in improving agricultural practices. In 2017, Samuday helped set up Hardoi Kisan Producer Company Limited (HKPCL), a farmer producer organization that has 2,350 shareholders and a turnover of over Rs. 7.6 crores for FY 20-21. All farming-related activities like input distribution, farm mechanization, food processing, etc., are being done by the farmers (members of HKPCL) with the support of HCL Samuday.

To help marginal farmers further enhance their income, HCL Samuday has helped set up 3,400 nutrition gardens within the farmers’ homes. These have helped more than 18,000 villagers help realize savings given that they are now able to use fresh and nutritious produce from their own backyards.

Which all geographies HCL Samuday has been working in?

Currently, HCL Samuday is being implemented in 11 development blocks of Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh, covering 1,300 villages across 284 Gram Panchayats, and has impacted around 2.1 million people.

Which all geographies HCL Samuday has been working in?

Currently, HCL Samuday is being implemented in 11 development blocks of Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh, covering 1,300 villages across 284 Gram Panchayats, and has impacted around 2.1 million people.

Driven by data and evidence, HCL Samuday is ramping up its efforts while deepening its impact on the ground. Here are number which reflect the positive impact creative by the various interventions:

In Agriculture:

  • HCL Samuday is helping farmers learn new techniques that help reduce the cost of cultivation, improve production quality and quantity, and raise income levels through agricultural extension, crop diversification, improvement of practice in traditional crops, promotion of community institutions like farmer clubs. The intervention also focuses on the market appeal of the produce, keeping in mind crop rotation and demand analysis.

  • From benefitting 517 farmers 6 years ago, today Samuday actively supports 66,716 farmers through its various programs in agriculture and livelihood

  • Traditional crop production has increased by 36% in Traditional Crop production

  • Under Crop Diversification intervention, farmers have experienced 500% increase in income

  • Samuday’s efforts have helped reduce irrigation requirement by 30%

  • Crop residue burning eliminated in the geography

  • 3470 nutrition gardens established to ensure daily availability of homegrown organic vegetables and fruits leading to increase in nutritious meal intake and decrease in costs for daily kitchen supplies

  • Supported establishment of a Farmer Producer Organization in 2017 – Hardoi Kisan Producer Company Limited; today its turnover stands at 7.8 Cr with 2350 shareholders

HCL Samuday aims to increase the farm income of marginal farmers by 25%. This is being done by infusing farmers with knowledge about scientific farming practices that are developed step-by-step through training programs at every cropping stage. Key training programs include Soil testing, Accounting techniques, Integrated Nutrition Management, Integrated Pest Management, and Post-Harvest Management. Along with the introduction of modern farming equipment and institutionalization of farmer clubs to make agriculture less burdensome and more market-linked, novel concepts like Nutrition Garden, and Bori Bagicha are propagated to help marginal families increase their nutrition intake and further save their household income.

In Livelihood:

  • Starting with 7 economic activities in 1 block, now 17700 economic activities are being carried out across 11 blocks; 1450 women Self-Help Groups supported

  • 29,000 households are benefitting from goat rearing, dairy, poultry, SHGs, skill development, and handicrafts related interventions

  • 17,600 is the average annual incremental income earned by artisans in FY 2020-21; total 1400 artisans benefitting. We on-boarded various partners to impart technical expertise to artisans like Kadam, Rangsutra and Jaipur Rugs Foundation and supported the artisans in optimizing the production process and helped them market the Handicraft products through partners, online platforms and through artisan centric marketing entity called Samuday Craft Pvt. Limited. Alongside there is another entity called Samuday Shakti Sewa Samiti, an artisan-led society to enhance collaborative production and marketing efforts.

In Health & Hygiene

Healthcare

  • Institutional delivery increased from 69% to 87%; 28589 safe institutional deliveries supported

  • Third Ante-natal checkup increased from 17% to 72%

  • 4500 severe or acute malnourished and severe underweight children managed through nutrition intervention; immunization of close to 30,000children facilitated

  • Increased access to general healthcare through Mobile Health Clinics; 99000 OPDs and diagnostic services provided

  • Introduced Telemedicine facilities; 37,000 OPDs provided

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

  • 4 lakh individuals practicing safe sanitation in 3 blocks; 86 GPs made open defecation free (ODF)

  • 10000 K.L. wastewater treated thorough soak pits leading to recharge of ground water table; 16 GPs supported with Liquid Waste Management (LWM) intervention

  • 85 tonnes of segregated waste managed from 755 HHs: 65 GPs benefitting from Solid Waste Management (SWM) intervention

  • 2000 HHs trained on and managing composting

  • 30 water supply schemes in various stages of development to ensure piped drinking water supply. As part of these 48500 individuals will be provided with access to safe drinking water

In Education

  • Complete School infra. improved in 517 schools and improvement ongoing in 238 schools under Happy School intervention

  • ICT Installation in 474 schools by HCL Foundation and in 419 Schools by Govt. through Smart TV

  • In 2017 only 58% schools had Boundary walls, and in 2020 now 100% schools are secured with boundary wall; 100% schools have library facility, sports equipment, and electricity connection

  • 62,300 Students covered through school level e-learning initiative

  • Official website for content distribution for Uttar Pradesh launched with 1200 pieces of video content of more than 300+ hours and Question bank with 2200 questions to assess learning levels

  • 28% average increase in literacy rate across 3 blocks

In Environment & Infrastructure

  • Ensuring access to clean, reliable and affordable electricity to communities, institutions and enterprises; 1.16 MW of renewable energy infrastructure created

  • Brought electricity to 41 villages through 32 solar mini-grids, connecting 3700 HHs; also connected 68 public institutions and created 29 renewable energy run productive loads/micro-enterprises in these villages

  • Developed 74 kms long street lighting infrastructure, ensuring light safety and security at night

  • Usage of kerosene in 41 villages has got eliminated and approximately 900 tons of carbon emissions saved

  • 22 health facilities supported to run 24*7 on electricity though rooftop solar PV systems

  • 113 schools supported with standalone solar PV systems for ensuring ICT-enabled classroom

In Panchayat Development

  • 106 panchayat bhawans made functional by upgrading infrastructure, ensuring capacity building of functionaries and generating awareness in the community

  • 15 Aadhar Based Rural Banking facilities established benefitting 8000 individuals

  • Established 41 Samuday Jan Seva Kendra resulting in improved service delivery benefitting 15000 individuals

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