Accelerating transformation of Rural India – Ambuja Cement Foundation
Over the years, we have visited NGOs doing good work in water management, women empowerment, livelihood development, education, health, skill and entrepreneurship development. Our visit to Ambuja Foundation’s work in Gujarat, astonished us to learn that this NGO encompasses all the initiatives stated above. It has impacted 2.5m people till date. Read on to learn more about this outstanding foundation.
Our Visit to
AMBUJA CEMENT FOUNDATION (ACF)
at Kodinar, Gir Somnath in Gujarat, on 22-24 January 2020.
From water scarcity, to surplus, for thriving Agriculture
Over 20 years and at a cost of US$15m (Rs1.1bn) ACF transformed 1200 sq kms in Coastal Saurashtra Gujarat from water scarcity to surplus water. ACF achieved this by linking local rivers with all sources of water in the region, converting depleted limestone mines into water reservoirs, rooftop rain water harvesting, building check dams, restricting saline water ingression through tidal regulator, focus on less water intensive crops, drip irrigation systems. Consistent water availability has ensured farmers ability to grow 3 crops in a year, compared to a rain fed single crop twenty years ago. This has tripled farmers income on a conservative basis.
Significantly growing value of agricultural produce
Cotton, Groundnut, Mango and vegetables are few of the main crops in ACFs area of operation in Gujarat. For Cotton, ACF partnered with Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and is currently reaching 35,000 farmers. BCI, a global organisation, trained local cotton farmers in best global practices for gaining higher output, superior quality of product, reduced pesticide use and efficient use of fertilizers. Additionally, ACF has started booking contracts on commodity exchange platforms to lock the price ahead of cotton’s harvest. Similar initiatives in Groundnuts through Fair Trade, market linkages for Mangoes and other vegetables have dramatically raised farmers profits from each crop.
ACF, a part of Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), has set-up Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) for the district of Gir Somnath. The purpose of this institution is to build capacities of farming communities through training, demonstrations and on farm research so as to reduce time lag in technology transfer.
Skill development led job placement/entrepreneurship support
ACF provides skill training through its Skill & Entrepreneurship Development Institute (SEDI). SEDI provides courses of 4 to 6 months to rural youth in areas such as nursing, electrician, welders, BPO etc. The youth are either placed in well paying jobs or are provided all the requisite support to become entrepreneurs. ACF runs 33 SEDI programs across 10 states in India. ACF has trained over 65,000 youth since its inception 9 years ago.
Locally relevant women empowerment initiatives
ACF has promoted 700 Self Help groups (SHG) with 8600 women from rural areas. These SHGs have constituted the Sorath Women Federation (SWF). SWF has created locally relevant, yet, very powerful initiatives such as savings of few grains per day for creating Food Security during famines or floods. Interestingly, the Group which saved few grains per day, used its reservoir of grains to distribute food to the needy people without any external assistance during the pandemic. Additionally, ACF works on developing financial independence for widows, especially younger widows. At the time of our visit, we saw few young widows being trained to become electricians and nurses.
Creating online access to talent during Pandemic despite no physical access to remote areas
ACF leveraged internet availability across its areas of operation by digitally reaching over 100,000 people during the ongoing pandemic. ACF team organized Webinars with experts for areas such as health awareness including need for wearing face masks & social distancing, sustaining livelihoods during the pandemic, climate change and soil health. All of its 33 skill training SEDI centres are operational digitally. Interestingly, ACF secured jobs for its trainees through digital interviews.
Additionally, ACF`s SHGs made & distributed face masks to local municipalities, sanitation workers and those providing essential services.
ACF is led by an outstanding and passionate team which is highly mission oriented in its approach. ACF has having achieved superior outcomes by use of highly innovative practices across most of its initiatives, ACF team continues to accelerate transformation of rural India.
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