Core Activities:

Documentation

The center has documented more than ten thousand knowledge practices from all over Kerala. The center is maintaining separate databases on innovations and knowledge practices of farmers, women and students. During the course of our mission, the center has developed innovative methodologies for the scouting and documentation of knowledge practices through women self help groups, farmers clubs, students, media, organizing workshops, competitions, networking and newsletters.

Development

The innovations and unique knowledge practices relevant to societal development are identified, selected and subjected to various formal and informal validation processes and value addition efforts. The center has professional expertise in agriculture, livestock development, farm machineries, IT, indigenous health, business development and social science. It also has well-established networks with national and international agencies such as NIF, DST, DISR, and the Honey Bee Network.

Dissemination

Validated and value added knowledge practices and innovations are disseminated through various commercial and non-commercial sectors. The center has developed unique replicable models for disseminating innovations and knowledge practices with the people's participation.

Recent Activities:

Conservation and propagation of farmers’ varieties by establishing village level enterprises

Successful implementation of project supported by International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture on propagation of farmer developed varieties by establishing village level enterprises for ensuring food security, climate change and agro biodiversity conservation created another milestone in our efforts to promote farmer’s innovation for addressing the emerging agrarian crisis. This project is one among the eleven projects sanctioned by International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, under its new benefit sharing scheme which was selected from more than 400 applications received from all FAO member nations. PDS is the first NGO in Asia awarded with Benefit Sharing Fund from the ITPGRFA, under FAO for conserving and propagating farmer developed varieties

The basic objective of the project is to conserve and propagate farmers’ varieties by establishing micro enterprises in villages by involving the farmer breeders. Though these varieties are known for the location specific specialties, disease resistance and better productivity, the diffusion of the varieties were limited to certain area. Three groups of crops are selected for the propagation. Food crops for food security, spice crops for economic development and indigenous vegetables for nutrition and health aspects are the areas of intervention.

Development of innovative, replicable, participative and enterprise models by reviving, propagating, conserving farmer developed / community varieties for ensuring food security, agro bio diversity conservation, climate change mitigation and livelihood promotion are the major achievements of the project. With the project support, five individual breeders have established individual nurseries /enterprises based on their developed varieties and 11 women self help groups are cultivating the farmer developed/ traditional crops in group enterprise mode (Total 16 enterprises) benefiting to more than 500 farmers. More than 200 model farmers have been trained in the cultivation practices resulting in the wider diffusion of these location specific drought resistant varieties and 21 model plots have been established in yams, cassava and pea. The indigenous and local cultivation practices have been documented, compiled, cross checked with the experts and published and the publication helped in wider dissemination and adoption of these varieties.

Our project was selected as one of the three highlight projects by ITPGRFA and invited to side event of governing council meeting of ITPGRFA at Bali, Indonesia in 2011 to present the achievements.

The specific achievements are as follows.

a) Farmer developed cassava variety (Manihot esculenta local name ambakkadan),local varieties of yams Dioscorea and Amorphophallus sp (local name ney chana neelakachi, vellakachil,cherukizagul) have been revived and propagated through women self groups. Three women groups comprising of more than 60 women are cultivating cassava and 60 women from three SHG are cultivating local varieties of yams in enterprise mode contributing significantly to their food security and livelihood promotion. Now more and more women are showing interest in the cultivation of ‘ambakkadan’ local variety of cassava. The SHG group shared the planting materials with fellow farmers. At present more than 300 women are cultivating this variety.

b) Five farmer breeders have developed nurseries and established enterprises in their villages based on their varieties with the support of the project. The farmers are Sabu Varghese (Elettaria cardamomum wonder cardamom), Balakrishnan K (Piper nigrum : Ashwati &suvarna ), KT Varghese (Piper nigrum: Kumpukal ), Abraham Mathew (Myristica fragrans Kadukamakkal Nutmeg), and Joy AS (Benincasa hispida : Eklavya Ash Gourd). The farmers’ breeders are earning substantial income from the established nurseries and also facilitated wider diffusion of their variety by selling their varieties to farmers.

c)

Indigenous and endangered varieties of pea cultivated among the Urali Tribal community has been revived and propagated among the women self help groups in the remote tribal colonies. These varieties are known for its drought resistant, less maintenance and nutritive qualities. Community seed bank has been established for ensuring the sustainability of cultivation and more than 40 women in three SHG groups are actively cultivating these varieties.

d) Capacity building of farmers in the cultivation practices of local varieties by organizing workshops, training programmes etc is the other achievements of the project. More than 200 model farmers have been trained in the cultivation techniques of farmer developed varieties and this facilitated wider diffusion of these varieties across the Kerala State. They have established more than twenty model plots in their villages for facilitating the diffusion of these varieties.

e) Capacity building of women groups in making value added products from cassava and yams is the other offshoot. Training has been given in collaboration with Central Tuber Research Institute for making value added products from yams and cassava.

f)Farmer developed local moringa (Moringa oleifera local name PVS) variety has been widely propagated and more than 328 women in three remote villages of Idukki district Kerala are actively cultivating these varieties and this will cater their nutritional and food and requirements.

g)Indigenous and local cultivation practices have been documented, complied, published and popularized. Six booklets, eight pamphlets, one brochure have been published and circulated among farmers, women groups and other stakeholders.

h) Created awareness about importance of conservation, sharing and International Treaty among the various stakeholders, farmers, policy makers and public. Publications and contributions have been made in local media, agricultural magazines, discussion forums, various knowledge portals etc. The cases study based on the project has been selected for presentation at Share Fare 11, organized by Internal Fund for Agricultural Development at Rome (IFAD). Wider awareness among the public about the Treaty and the importance of farmer developed varieties for mitigating climate change and food security is other important achievements.

i) Linkages established with Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI) for training in the value addition of tuber crops and regional centre National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NPBGRI) for identification and conservation of local varieties. Linkages were also established by the farmer breeders with various formal sector institutions, local bodies and other farmer organizations for sustaining their enterprises.

j) Wider recognition to farmer breeders participated in the project is other achievement. The media has given importance and detailed coverage about the farmers’ breeders and their varieties.

For further details

Energy Efficient Community Chulha for Anganwadies and Schools

This UNDP supported project intends to introduce energy efficient community Chulha’s developed by grassroots innovator Jayaprakash in selected schools and anganwadies of Idukki district with the objective of making their mid day meal cooking economical , thus saving tons of fire wood and providing pollution free atmosphere and contributing to carbon saving.

Energy efficient community Chulha is a national award winning innovation developed by a grassroots innovator V Jayapraksh. The innovation has won national award from National Innovation Foundation in 2011 and got several appreciations from the scientific community.. The technology has been tested and validated by IIT Guwahati, ANERT and IRTC and observed a thermal efficiency of 29 to 35% as against 17% in ordinary smoke less community Chulha and recommended for wide scale adoption and replication. The specialty is the secondary burning system which will burn the un-burnt hydrocarbon coming out

The introduction of this low cost innovation will reduce the expenses of food preparation in school and anganwadies more than 30 %. The Chulha will be demonstrated and installed in selected 100 remote schools across the Kerala state. The project is being implemented and supported by small grant scheme of UNDP and Centre for energy and environment, Ahmadabad (CEE). We have already introduced Chulha in 13 schools and excellent results were observed.

Innovation based enterprises for agro processing

With the objective of addressing the local need of agro processing and diffusion of grassroots innovations, several village level enterprises were established by women self help groups in different remote villages of Idukki district Kerala with the active participation of Innovators. Pepper thresher, cardamom polishing, cardamom washing, nutmeg decorticator, herbal mosquito repellent and arrowroot grinding machine are the technologies selected for establishing enterprises. These activities are supported by DST & NABARD,