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.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

SEDS: High yields of Low Carbon Farming

Decreased tilling + decreased fertilizer = increased crop.
If that sounds a bit counter-intuitive, then you should hear about Low Carbon Farming (LCF).

Most modern agricultural practices are caught up in the ever-increasing cycle of chemical fertilizers. A farmer who uses a certain amount of chemicals on his fields, finds that the quantity required increases with each year, to ensure the same yield. LCF promotes sustainable forms of agriculture using practices like reduced tilling, minimal or no usage of chemical fertilizers, planting multiple crops for biodiversity, and anaerobic composting. Two main sources of carbon related to agriculture are the use of chemical fertilizers and tilling the soil which releases trapped carbon. LCF practices preserve the carbon content of the soil that would otherwise be depleted by the more traditional methods of modern farming.   

SEDS and 4 other NGOs make up the 'Fair Climate Network-LCF' group that aims to implement sustainable agricultural practices over 8,000 hectares of land. In a historic first, this 1-year pilot project also aims to quantify and translate the amount of carbon reduced or preserved into Verified Emission Reductions (VERs) that can then be traded on the Carbon Credit market. Out of its target of 819 farmers, SEDS has already reached out to 620 farmers through farmer field schools.  

With a lot riding on the success and lessons learnt from this pilot project, this sustainable venture looks set to yield results next year. 

[The article originally written by Amit Manikoth, for SEDS's 30 years celebration. This is simply a reproduction.]