Major brands collaborate with MP govt, farmers and civil society to promote regenerative agriculture and sustainable sourcing
The Regenerative Production Landscape Collaborative (RPL Collaborative), founded by Laudes Foundation, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative and WWF India, has kickstarted the formation of public-private-community partnerships (Compacts). The first Compact is being formed in Chhindwara. It will reach 20,000 farmers, and bring 20,000 hectares under regenerative agricultural practices. The second Compact will cover eight districts in western MP, including parts of the Narmada Basin, to reach 120,000 farmers in the State and cover 100,000 hectares by 2026.
The Regenerative Production Landscape Collaborative (RPL Collaborative), founded by Laudes Foundation, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative and WWF India, has kickstarted the formation of public-private-community partnerships (Compacts) between Inditex, H&M Group, IKEA, Neutral, PepsiCo India, Sammunnati Finance, Jayanti Spices, INI Farms and SV Agri.
The multi-stakeholder Compact also includes key-decision makers such as civil society organizations SRIJAN, Action for Social Advancement, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme and farmer producer organizations (FPOs).
The first Compact is being formed in the Chhindwara district in Madhya Pradesh (MP). It will reach 20,000 farmers, and bring 20,000 hectares under regenerative agricultural practices. The second Compact will cover eight districts in western MP, including parts of the Narmada Basin, to reach 120,000 farmers in the State and cover 100,000 hectares by 2026.
The RPL Collaborative contributes to revitalizing soil health, boosting smallholder farmer incomes, improving access to water, enhancing biodiversity, and addressing gender equity through the multi-stakeholder Compacts. Members of a Compact work together to leverage sustainability and social commitments at scale and mobilize financial support for sustainability projects at the landscape level.
The RPL Collaborative and CGIAR-International Rice Research Institute recently conducted a baseline landscapes diagnostics of the first compact in Chhindwara using comprehensive and complementary approaches such as household surveys, GIS and remote sensing and high-tech laboratory soil assessment.
Some of these baseline findings are: Over 90 per cent of farmers are dependent on agriculture as their main source of income. The annual gross income on average is Rs 1,28,000. While 95 per cent of farmers have access to a mobile phone, less than half have access to the Internet.
98 per cent of landowners cultivated their field in the Kharif season but only 53 per cent in the Rabi season. The rest is fallow. Most of the landowners in the landscape cultivate only 1-2 crops in a year. There is a high yield gap in the region where the major cultivated crops such as cotton, maize, tur, soyabean, wheat and gram have a lower yield (up to 11 quintals/acre) than the state average and the attainable yields of these crops.
Only 25 per cent of farmers have partially adopted at least one regenerative practice on their farms. Only 10 per cent of farmers are involved in agroforestry, which is beneficial to both farmer incomes and the environment.
Ajit Kesari, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Farmer Welfare and Agriculture, Government of MP formally announced the Compact at an event in Bhopal. He said, “Madhya Pradesh has been a frontrunner in sustainable agriculture. With our rich biodiversity, climatic diversity and topographical variations, we take pride in contributing to ~8% of the total food grain and ~25% of total pulse and oilseeds production in India. To reduce the impact of climate shocks we are heavily committed to promoting regenerative and landscape-based agriculture.”
Preeti Maithil Nayak, Director, Farmer Welfare and Agriculture Development, said, “The Madhya Pradesh government has launched a crop diversification promotion scheme to promote crop diversification and investments in agriculture. We look forward to joining hands with the industry stakeholders in the RPL Collaborative to support the farmers.”
Anita Chester, Partner Designate, Laudes India LLP, said: “I am excited to see how the RPL Collaborative has grown. It is a unique multi-stakeholder initiative helping to address climate change and inequality, and catalyze system change from soil to society. The formation of these public-private-community partnerships is driving the transition towards an inclusive, climate-positive economy.”
Highlighting the importance of sustainable sourcing in the collaborative, Daan Wensing, CEO, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative, said, “The existing state of agricultural production and ecosystem management requires system transformation. We need to make the shift to regenerative agriculture, to make our food and agricultural systems able to adapt to climate change. And at the same time, we need to make sure farmers own enough to invest in their own futures.”
Vidya Soundarajan, Director, Ecological Footprint, WWF India said, “The Collaborative offers a platform for bringing in the varied actors to help maintain the integrity of the landscape and enhance the climate resilience and ecosystem benefits to the community — which forms the core of our focus.”