The performance of Indian agriculture in transforming India form a begging bowl status in the mid sixties to self-sufficiency during 1990s is remarkable. Owing to a re-emergence of climate risks, national food self sufficiency is however, not sufficiently stable. Food self sufficiency is also not achieved at the household level. Mal-nutrition of women and children is reported to be high. Farms are shrinking in size and natural resources are depleting and degrading in quality. Trade is being progressively liberalized to meet the WTO obligations. A dietary revolution taking place across the board is encouraging diversification of agriculture towards high value products. However, diversification is affected by supply side constraints like infrastructure, credit, extension, markets, etc. Another notable feature of agricultural transformation is growing regional disparity in development. Disadvantaged regions did not gain much from development efforts. Hence, balanced regional development assumes special significance in the planning and development process. Many schemes and programmes have been taken up by the Center and State Governments to achieve balanced regional development but imbalances persist.
About 80% of the poor live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Most of them are small farmers and landless people seeking to sell their labor. Gainfully engaging them in enhancing production, value addition, employment and income, and reducing migration to cities is of importance. The scope of livelihood security in disadvantaged/backward areas covering both economic growth and human development has to be comprehensive in terms of expanding and establishing the sources of employment and income within and allied to agriculture, the rural non-farm sector, food and nutritional security, better education (literacy), health, sanitation and other basic amenities, basic and vocation-specific infrastructural facilities, particularly relating to main occupations etc. All these concerns need to be duly considered while targeting programmes for balanced regional development. The identification of target areas may also to be guided as in the past by the emphasis on special programmes like chronically drought prone areas, desert areas, tribal areas, hill areas, chronically flood affected areas, coastal areas affected by salinity, etc. It is imperative that the Programmes of rural development are bottom-up, technology-driven with supportive institutions and policies. It is also imperative that the approach should be group-based, eco-friendly and in a package ready to be used by farmers. It should be noted that there is considerable technological capacity in place, significant resources under different schemes with several development departments, and increasing interest, involvement and useful experiences of NGOs, Civil Society organizations etc. in rural development activities there also are some innovative initiatives in rural India by the private sector. All these have to be synergized to achieve larger, wider and faster impact. Such a transformation has to be triggered by India’s large agricultural research system led by the ICAR in selected districts or clusters of districts as models for system-wide application.
Livelihood security of about 80% of the poor living in the rural areas has to be improved and disadvantaged areas and vulnerable groups should receive priority attention. Livelihood security in rural areas has to be improved through agricultural and allied sector interventions based on farm and rural non-farm activities. A major impetus for such a transformation has to come through development, dissemination and application of technologies and the pooling of competence and resources of all stakeholders (public sector, private sector, NGOs, Civil Society organizations, development departments etc.) with deliberate and cost-effective investments in building partnership, consortia and shared governance in target environments. The component aims to strengthen the knowledge and innovation potential of a consortium of stakeholders in harsh environments that have livelihood improvement potential. One of the criteria for selecting areas for Component 3 should therefore be inherent potential. The project provides a policy, platform, technical packages and partnerships for progress. It should also be noted that livelihoods in low potential areas must pay particular attention to off-farm activities, migration etc.
- To improve livelihood security of rural people living in selected disadvantaged regions through innovation systems led by technology encompassing the wider process of social and economic change, covering all stakeholders; and,
- To build partnerships, pool competence and resources from conventional and unconventional sources and build social capital for better ownership and sustainable model of rural development.
Selection of Disadvantaged Areas
Selection of disadvantaged areas is based on a list of 150 districts selected by the Planning Commission (on the basis of the index of backwardness, namely
- Agricultural productivity per worker;
- Agricultural wage rate and
- SC/ST population under the National Food For Work (NFW) Programme) (see Table 1 below).
Table 1. List of 150 Disadvantaged Districts Identified by the Planning Commission, Govt. of India under NFW Programmer
Adilabad, Mahbubnagar, Rangareddy, Khammam, Warangal, Nalgonda, Anantpur, Cudappah.
Kokrajhar, North Cachar Hills, Karbi Anglong, Dhemaji, North Lakhmipur.
Araria, Vaishali, Gaya, Madhubani, Muzaffarpur, Nawadah, Samastipur, Sheohar, Katihar, Jamui, Lakhisarai, Monghyr, Purnea, Supaul, Darbhanga.
Bastar, Dantewada, Kanker, Koria, Sarguja, Jaspur, Dhamtari, Raigarh,
Dangs, Dohad, Panch Mahals, Sabarkantha, Narmada,
Jammu & Kashmir
Saraikela, Singhbhum West, Godda, Simdega, Gumla, Chatra, Garhwa, Palamau, Latehur, Lohardagga, Dumka, Jamtara, Sehebganj, Pakur.
Chitradurga, Davanagere, Bidar
Jhabua, Mandla, Umaria, Shahdol, Barwani, Khargone, Shivpuri, Sidhi, Tikamgarh, Balaghat, Chattarpur, Betul, Khandwa, Seopur, Dhar.
Gadchiroli, Gondya, Chandrapur, Dhule, Nandurbar, Hingoli, Nanded, Aurangabad, Ahemdnagar, Yawatmal, Bhandara.
South Garo Hills.
Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Mayurbhanj, Sundergarh, Keonjhar, Phulbani, Boudh, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Ganjam, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Sonepur, Bolangir, Dhenkanal.
Banswara, Dungarpur, Udaipur, Sirohi, Karauli.
Tiruvannamalia, South Arcot/Cuddalore, Villupuram, Nagapattinam.
Champawat, Tehri Garhwal.
Sonabhadra, Unnao, Raebareli, Sitapur, Hardoi, Fatehpur, Lalitpur, Lakhmipur Kheri, Banda, Chitrakoot, Mirzapur, Kushinagar, Mahoba, Hamirpur, Barabanki.
Purulia, Malda, West Midnapur, Bankura, West and North Dinajpur, Murshidabad.
Within these 150 districts there are large numbers of potentially rewarding R&D opportunities for Consortia on livelihood improvement. The consortia will be formed by using the Integrated Livelihood Index (ILI; for details on ILI, see Appendix 5).
About 20 livelihood-oriented R&D consortia would be financed and no more than half of the available funding would be assigned through invitation or direct sponsorship.