Farming through Design
The workshop, a celebration of success, also focused on common problems grappling institutions despite diverse geographies and demographics. Participants understood the best practices in Agri-Teaching adopted by reputed institutes across the globe and in India. They identified patterns and anti-patterns in the domain of Agri-Teaching that could be leveraged to make targeted collective efforts to address those.
- In addition, the participative cross-pollination approach led to creation of a holistic sustainable framework to train farmers based on the combination of Good farming knowledge, practical hands-on approach along with an equal emphasis on personality development.
- It is worth mentioning that out-of-the-box ideas, such Spirituality in Farming, added a novel dimension to the workshop.
- Design Elements: Sustainable Frameworks, Patterns & Anti-Patterns, Collaboration
- 2-day dedicated workshop facilitated by Mission Samriddhi @ 8012 FinTech Design Center
- Design Center walkthrough to unlock participants’ mind before the workshop
- Twenty-three decision makers of five reputed Agri-Teaching institutes across multiple states including industry experts from National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) and The National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD)
About the client
Mission Samriddhi is a social impact enterprise dedicated to holistic human development in India through the design and development of projects that are sustainable and capable of scale to positively impact the larger population. They support existing initiatives, harnessing their energy and passion, providing the support required to address constraints, while building sustainable models in association with our project partners. The core team of Mission Samriddhi comprises of industry experts spread across various walks of social life in India.
The team of Mission Samriddhi champions projects across Agriculture, Education, Leadership and Capacity Building, Community Health and Grass-root Relief, among other to name a few.
Purpose of the workshop
The Agricultural Sector is the backbone of the Indian economy providing basic ingredients of life to the citizens. Over 58% of rural households depend on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood. The sector provides high employment opportunities for rural people and the youth on a large scale, In addition, it also provides an opportunity for entrepreneurship. However, there is no denying that our Agrarian community is also facing a crisis. More than three lakhs farmers have committed suicide over the past decade. These suicides have largely been attributed to debt, drought, crop failure or poor returns. Many farmers are also reluctant to have their children pursue agriculture as a career due to these factors.
Farmers have been taking these drastic steps despite having the potential for sound farming, with excellent water source, cultivatable land, good rainfall and a competitive demand for their crop. However, farmers face depression due to adequate knowledge, lack of credit, absence of infrastructure and relevant technology. It is evident that the Agriculture Sector is in urgent need of urgent reconstruction.
Identifying the root cause behind the suicides as loss of hope in farmers, Mission Samriddhi resolved to introduce a new approach to curb these incidences. They planned to create an agriculture and industries hub with the ultimate goal of helping local farmers turn their lives around. The aim is to enable youth to get into ‘agri-enterprises’ as a viable, profitable and respectable career. They plan to offer game changing academic initiatives by reputed institutions that will equip farmers with information, skill and know-how to manage situations rather than succumb to drastic measures or middlemen.
As part of the pilot project, a group of institutions that share this common goal got together to cross-pollinate ideas and create a sustainable and scalable framework. Coming together from diverse parts of the country with respect to climate, terrains and cultures each institution had plenty to share in terms of best practices that they follow. The perspectives of the National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) and The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) were also sought for better understanding.
The delegation of the two-day workshop involved 23 decision makers of five reputed agri-teaching institutes across multiple states of India such as Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Telangana, Goa and Uttar Pradesh. The industry perspective was added by industry experts from NIRD and NABARD.
Mission Samriddhi resolved to leverage Design Thinking expertise by including the involvement of the core team members of the School of Design Thinking.
The first step: Recognition of Patterns and Anti-Patterns
With solid background and rich experience in crops and cultivation patterns each institution presented their story of how they have made a difference to the farmers in their respective regions. They shared success stories, best practices, challenges that they faced and presented ideas and their vision forward. Consequently, interesting patterns were observed across:
- The importance of practice-based learning and learning by doing to develop ‘Smart Kisans’
- Emphasis on industry-based learning as value addition to technical knowledge
- Creating an environment like the traditional ‘Gurukul’ model consisting of Agri-Mentors/Influencers and interested students seeking to develop a career in Farming
- Importance to tribal and community welfare, alternate cropping models, scalability of Master-Trainer models for agri-teaching, utilizing Hydroponics.
- Working on economically incentivizing farming and creating awareness about loan management, agri-entrepreneurship, etc.
During the workshop common anti-patterns (challenges) also emerged out of the discussion. These included:
- Attrition of Agri-Teachers and drop-out levels of students interested to make career in farming
- Unwanted presence of middlemen and their influence on the credit system
- Migration to urban areas in pursuit of non-farming employment jobs
- Lack of timetable between an academic calendar and agrarian calendar
- Lack of technology infrastructure to take technology to remote locations
Design tools helped anchor key thought
The discussion was anchored by a host of design tools that helped in following activities:
- Identification of root cause of the problem
- Seeing things from a holistic perspective
- Divergence and convergence to arrive at sustainable solutions
- Applying globally renowned design approaches to tackle complex problems
- Identifying every stakeholder concerned in the Agri-Teaching domain
Towards Sustainable Framework
Discussions convened on sustainable holistic frameworks which touched all the patterns observed, addressed all the anti-patterns and importantly met the objectives to address the problem statement. Design approaches adopted by pioneers in the field of Design Thinking helped the participants to outline the frameworks which rested on the following pillars:
- Education + Practical Knowledge + Personality Development (Developing character and sense of pride in Farming) will lead to a holistic Agri-Teaching curriculum.
- Newer dimensions such as Agri-Preneurship and industry-driven experience will help.
- Brining community/spiritualism and farming on a common platform to drive farmers’ community driven agenda. Leveraging successful aspects of Indian tradition.
- Finding influencers / ambassadors ‘Krishidoot’ at each levels to synergize and motivate stakeholders
- Working on economic incentivisation of farming and adding healthcare benefits
- Finding key influencers and champions in the policy making group to take this forward with the lawmakers/government