SEDS, the Social Education and Development Society, was founded in 1980 by Rajen Joshua and Manil Jayasena as a grassroots development NGO, motivated by the desire to help the poorest of the poor in the drought-prone area of Anantapur District in Andhra Pradesh. In the early days, the main focus of the work was on community development by way of non-formal education and small loans to skilled target communities like cobblers, basket weavers, blanket weavers and others.

As Anantapur is the second most drought prone area in India and much of its natural resources are depleted, it soon became clear that environmental problems would have to be tackled first, if peoples’ livelihoods were to be made sustainable. Starting in 10 villages near the small town of Penukonda a scheme of pioneering work was developed which aimed to empower local communities and improve their environment. Initially small nurseries were started for homestead plantations and planting of avenue trees along village roads. Re-a-forestation and more sustainable agricultural practices were introduced. From 1990, SEDS started using a more participatory approach, through the formation of Community Based Organizations. Involving the communities more in the effort made them actual stakeholders in the development process of the region. Throughout the years the scope and area of the work increased and the fruits of the sustained efforts became visible in the greener environment and the enthusiasm of the communities.

Today, SEDS is working through an integrated rural development approach with an emphasis on women’s empowerment, watersheds, re-a-forestation and natural resource management. This is within five Mandals in the southern part of Anantapur District, in south western Andhra Pradesh namely, Penukonda, Roddam, Gorantla, Somandepalli and Chilamathur. In these 5 mandals SEDS currently supports 125 villages, being some 12000 women and their families, 980 Self Help Groups (SHGs), 120 Village Organisations (VOs) & 5 Mandal Samakyas (MMSs) .

Through its sustained efforts SEDS has made a significant impact on the lives of the people in the area and the local environment. The SEDS slogan “Towards a greener tomorrow” has become a reality.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Low Carbon Farming II

Peasant farming by smallholders is the most sustainable and non-polluting way of life. Unfortunately the manner in which peasants traditionally tilled their fields does not work any longer. Cultivating small holdings is now an annual gamble. In order to help these people SEDS started with a sustainable agriculture (SA) programme (http://sedsngo.blogspot.com/2010/04/sustainable-agriculture-lead-farmers.html).

But glorifying the peasant lifestyle with clich├ęs alone will not work. Small and marginal farmers will not agree to stay impoverished forever. They are lured by quick and easy returns. Mainstream cultivation, with high external inputs offers them a green dream but it ends in a nightmare. Over usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides turns the soil into a lifeless medium. Annually farmers are forced to increase the inputs if they want to keep up the soil fertility leading to pauperisation and acute farmer distress. Mechanisms of the carbon market present a solid solution to this impending crisis by leveraging resources.

We started with a project called Low Carbon Farming (LCF) (http://sedsngo.blogspot.com/2010/01/low-carbon-farming.html). Simply stated, sustainable agriculture + carbon credits = LCF. By adopting SA practices farmers reduce the output of their green house gasses. These reductions can be quantified and sold on the carbon market.

LCF involves a basket of practices that reduce/minimize/remove use of synthetic fertilizers (methane avoidance and N2O reduction) while, at the same time, improving soil carbon. This is done through reduced tillage, precision fertilization, anaerobic composting, organic fertilizers, mulching, intercropping, multi-cropping, irrigation efficiency and a horde of techniques specially designed for particular regions and communities.

In collaboration with FCN we provide them the methodology to achieve this. Complex science is broken down into simple linked tasks. Staff visits the farmers and records demographic and land data.

For this we even go to the fields and record the plots with GPS so we get correct positions and figures of their landholdings. Walking around the circumference of the plot we register each corner point and create a two dimensional picture of the field.

These readings get double checked by going to the village and overlaying the figures over Google Earth

This is necessary to calculate the emission reductions the farmers will get by applying SA practices. The emission reductions of the practices are scientifically measured by a science team. Samples of soil, farm yard manure together with the knowledge of the emissions of chemical fertilizers will give us a precise picture of the reduced green house gases. In the end we will execute carbon contracts which each farmer individually.

Carbon revenues will be the incentive, and show the way for small and marginal farmers to reverse and restore the damage done to their lives, livelihoods and the environment and also receive an income for these practices from carbon buyers.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SEDS & Beyond

Dear All

Blood, sweat and and a lot of laughter have gone into the making of this movie.

Please enjoy SEDS & Beyond with the link below.