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Seeding Happiness: SumArth’s Farmer-led Agri-Models for Rural Development in India

With Prabhat Kumar (Co-founder, SumArth)
Discussants: Durba Chattaraj (Assistant Professor in Anthropology, Ashoka University) and Kaustubh Khare (MA Student in Semiotics, Tartu University)
In 2018, Bihar’s unemployment rate was at 7.2 percent, which is a jump from 2.5 percent in 2011. Many factors have damaged the potential of the agricultural sector, including the lack of collective knowledge about agricultural best practices, market linkages and price fluctuations; low profits in farming; high rates of urban migration in search of better futures; uncertain climatic conditions, and social stigma concerning the role of women in agriculture. The current COVID-19 crisis has further accentuated these issues, leading to an extreme burden on the rural economy.
SumArth (non-profit social enterprise) was founded in 2015 and started its operations with 11 farmers in Gaya, Bihar. Through their various interventionist, market-focused and low-risk projects, such as ‘Magical Mushroom Project’ (scaling livelihoods), ‘Delicious Honey Project’ (creating new dimensions), ‘Sakhi Lakhpati Program’ (empowering rural women through sustainable agriculture), ‘Yuva Shakti Program’ (capacity building in agricultural model), and ‘SumArth Kendra’ (model agricultural centre), they have served and provided end-to-end support to over 10,000 farmers in the seven districts of Bihar, of whom 63 percent are women. The average annual household income across the beneficiaries rose by 424 percent, as did their average annual savings (SumArth’s Model of Rural Development – Compendium of Case Studies by Deloitte, 2021).
This talk features Sumarth’s co-founder Prabhat Kumar, at a time when Indian farmers, government and non-profit organizations are seeking solutions to address the agrarian distress that is prevalent in the country. The talk will be followed by a discussion led by Durba Chattaraj and Kaustubh Khare, where EFC members will engage with Sumarth’s holistic and sustainable models that have helped foster non-pesticide practices and the use of low-cost technology and agri-tools, as well as reduce the carbon footprint, establish farmer-led institutions, and provide nutritional security to the farmers.
Together we will reflect on the politics, imaginaries and futures of these community-led development programs and sustainable agricultural partnerships and practices while considering the ways in which they can be applied elsewhere.
Event timing: 10:00 to 11:30 EST / 19:30 to 21:00 IST
This Emergent Futures CoLab event is co-presented by the York Centre for Asian Research.
For more information or to register, click here.


Apr 30 2021


10:00 am - 11:30 am
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