Founder Note

shekru’s idea was seeded in the jagriti yatra. the jagriti yatra is a yearly event that happens in december, a train journey to meet social entrepreneurs around the country, role models if you will, that have in spite of all the odds and challenges, have created significant impact in the communities they serve around this great land of ours.  i volunteered for 10 years for this program and meeting hundreds of yatris along with all the role models during the years inspired me to step intro agriculture. a village immersion near nashik followed, ideation, pivots resulted in a focus. shekru mobile app was launched with a focus to better awareness and access to resources for farmers.   

a rather random stroke to my mother that left her paralyzed, bedridden and that took her ability to eat/swallow in the early stages of shekru made me re-evaluate my priorities. an eight year crazy caregiving journey ensued. and shekru limited itself to the a virtual platform in the form of the app parallely during this time.  this journey of care-giving also impacted me in widening our focus to food and health, and it solidified a thought that farmers health is a priority as well if they have to be successful, so is soil health, water health, plant health, livestock health. and that we have to look at it holistically incorporating natural, bio and organic philosophies.

in the meantime, we felt the need to be join an incubator, as the journey to reach a wider variety of stakeholders including government became very tough. it so happened that an incubator in mumbai that aligned with our priorities started at the same time and fit extremely well with what we were looking for as well, so we decided to sign up to the program of atal incubation center at rambhau mhalgi prabodhini and we cant be more appreciative for their guidance. 

so here we are as not-for-profit startup, eager to play our part for our providers, our women and men farmers and help them and their environment and communities be climate resilient, healthy, secure and successful.  climate change is creating havoc out there for farmers, the situation is dire for our small landing holding ones, majority of ours are, we feel the urgency and passion to address this each waking moment. we know we cant do this alone, so we seek all interested stakeholders including individuals to help cheer us, partner with us and support us in whatever manner possible.  come join us.

farmer first!
ananth

ShekruTV

ShekruTV is another medium, through webinars and online meetings, that provides a great opportunity towards our mission of awareness. COVID pushed us to accelerate our plans as much as it did a lot of farmers towards the online medium.

Six themes six days and a on location field school, all virtual, provide the background for this initiative. The details on the themes are below while the calendar link on the website provides the actual schedule of the programs

ShekruTV programs are through Zoom and Streamyard software platforms, and also streamed to Youtube Live and Facebook Live depending on the program format and platform. They are also available recorded there for anytime viewing. Also the audio along with the presentation slides is available through for download through the app as well.

Watch ShekruTV at

                  

Agro-ecology is a holistic approach that fosters reconciliation of agriculture and local communities with natural processes for the common benefit of nature and livelihoods. Swathes of agricultural land have been left abused with a toxic overload due to overuse of chemicals. To counter this, agro-ecology is a philosophy that respects nature and harmonious living with the environment.

With a focus on Natural and Organic Farming practices, this theme looks at holistic solutions for soil water, plant and animal health and farmer health. Farmer health specifically explores their food choices, nutrition security through kitchen gardens. Traditional remedies from herbs are also explored, along with practices and solutions for mental well being and resiliency.

So topics under this broad theme could be anything from naturally made mixes, bio products, friendly insects, land management, successful farming practices in multi-cropping, indigenous seeds, forest foods to certification.

There are several institutions around the country where scientists are doing commendable and promising research in agriculture and food science. How does their output make it to the field? How can we translate their work to be of use for farmers?

Research in varieties of crops, pests, disease, plant nutrition especially in times of climate change are vital. Research is also revealing new insights into roles of Virus, Fungi, Bacteria and other micro-organisms in soil, for growth etc.

Food science is also evolving at a fast pace with choices for instant and quick nutrition such as synthetic meat, synthetic proteins, lab produced ingredients etc. Solutions are being sought for persistent issues such as Iron deficiencies. COVID has created awareness for immune boosting foods. How can we make rural communities aware about local nutrition deficiencies and influence their food choices?

There are some contentious topics in science as well with gene editing, fortification of foods etc. that need an independent and objective look. And to explore how these strategic choices may impact our rural health in the long term.

Women do all the farm work along with house work, at times even supplementing the income working as labour in other people’s fields., When men migrate in search of jobs, women are left behind with children and elders to manage everything including the family’s daily food, nutrition, water needs and caring for their livestock. Women led households and women opting for farming as a profession present dynamics that will require all stakeholders including government to adapt and support.

Though women run Self Help Groups dot the landscape their success has been a mixed bag. The ones that are able to sustain are now being elevated to Farmer Producer Organizations requiring business skills, professionalism and leadership.

This series highlights women and women friendly policies in agriculture and agribusiness. It features women leadership and entrepreneurship at a time of adversity and celebrates resiliency and success.

Land Laws are complex. The rural landscape is filled with issues relating to land ownership including inheritance, exact size, location etc. And with family division inheritance specifically has become a tangled mess. Shared common resources as well like grazing lands and water bodies are under tremendous stress thanks to dynamic climate patterns and haphazard development.

Social issues like alcohol abuse wrecks livelihoods and tobacco addiction is a slow poison. 21st century living with smartphone addictions and online scams have engulfed a generation disrupting families and the social fabric in turn leading to a serious loss of productivity.

Individual issues, societal challenges, can we look at localized community systems to better address these ? Can we strengthen existing community associations like water use associations to foster better understanding and overall inclusive development? What are the successful local panchayat templates for this if any?

Yes, a diverse theme from individual to community topics, it will feature a broad spectrum of stakeholders including govt, policy advocates, activists, lawyers, social workers

 

Money is tight with COVID lockdowns, loss of livelihoods and unpredictable price realization of produce. Farmers have debt from various loans. Farmers also have income predominantly during harvests so the cash flow is not exactly smooth and continuous unlike expenses.

Though many initiatives invest in financial inclusion and literacy, we need to extend this to financial tracking, record keeping, budgeting and planning. This includes farm budgeting as well looking at cost of cultivation of crops, of allied activities, the quest for income diversification and climate resilience.

So this series will cover everything in financial planning in general and also specific to agrarian living. Would also include other financial instruments like government schemes, loans, insurance, micro insurance and dealing with new age banks.

While technology and jugaad may seem at the opposite ends of the spectrum, they really aren’t.

The influence of jugaad on rural agriculture cannot be overlooked especially in areas where tech is neither accessible, affordable or available. There is a lot happening in the jugaad front , but scant awareness and scale seem to limit their impact. Innovative implements that have come from rural folk, for example small machinery that takes away the drudgery from weeding and significantly reduces the labour, need to be talked about more.

High tech solutions like drip irrigation, water treatment, hydroponics, post harvest tech, sensors, weather forecasting services and electronic marketplaces need to be explained and made viable for the majority of them to have impact.

Livestock form an important component of farm life and income. In the time of climate change, it becomes important to understand this component in detail, build its resiliency and optimise its contributions.

Feed and Fodder have become critical with cycles of drought, along with disappearance of grazing lands. Poultry has seen major ups and down lately. While sea fishing has its potential, Inland Fisheries with farm ponds and natural water bodies offers livelihood options for the small farmer.

Often an afterthought of agriculture and horticulture, this theme needs to get greater relevance alongside allied farm income supplementing activities like insect rearing, beekeeping and mushroom growing.

Topics will include looking at contemporary problem statements through an unbiased lens

A visit to a farmer field to see their work first hand. Innovation, practices, success stories, hear it right from the farmer and from the field.

A visit to a testing lab to see how some tests are done, say like a pesticide residue test on a fruit or vegetable.

A visit to a processing facility to live post harvest processing.

A visit to a mechanization unit in action.

A visit to a demo plot to observe a traditional variety in action.

A visit to a scientist lab to understand pests and their mode of action

A visit to a research institution to see work on improved varieties

Could be anything from live field visit, to demonstration to learning labs, all virtually broadcasted for the audience

 

Shekru Mobile App

Complementing our on ground shaala, is our online presence through shekru mobile app, it is a smartphone based free dual-language application that provides access to educational, skill development and financial resources out there. The information is presented in both english and marathi.

The information is curated, structured and organized. The information is accessible in one place, most of it is also available offline.

Shekru has been downloaded by 50000 farmers across maharashtra. Shekru can be downloaded from the Google Play store

Events

25+ types of relevant events ranging from training courses to workshops to trade shows are listed.. There are need based/on demand courses and events happening near the user as well. Shekru also lets RSVP for an event.

Schemes

Schemes information are organized in a concise format that presents the key information about each. As with events, they can be shared, emailed as well. Schemes range from subsidies, financial assistance to loans, insurance, facilities etc.

Audio

Downloadable audio from various stakeholders – voices of farmers to professionals, scientists, thought leaders, institutions, companies, bureaucrats, government, NGOs, and community radios that serve hyper-locally. The content features interviews, discussions, advisories, acts that feature domain expertise, knowledge, opinions and offerings.

Directory

[Coming Soon] a directory listing of various resources, service providers, facilities, health centers

Crop Selection Decision

[Coming Soon] Market Price Discovery, Analysis, Forecast. Crop selection decision help tool taking into account cost of cultivation, yield and market prices

Shekru Portal

The portal is for folks that don’t want to access the data via the app.  It helps to present data in bigger screen and accessible to a larger audience that may find using the app difficult.   

Shekru Shetkari Shaala

The shaala is a place for farmers, call it a place to hangout, call it a school, call it a resource center, a place for interaction, a place we could help them in any possible manner.  

Shaala Programs

1. Financial Literacy and Counseling Program

We provide a systematic approach to farmers and rural families to understand their finances, their options, their choices and their path ahead. This modularization of the program is to address all levels of agrarian population. It is unique as compared to other programs out there as we also address farm income and expenses, get into the details of cost tracking of farm activities and livestock

Category – Financial

Beneficiaries – 0
Activity – Awareness
Status – Design

2. Tech literacy programs – Smartphones

The smartphone has become an instrument of necessity and access in the times we live in. Cheap and accessible broadband has also made it extremely democratic for a diverse set of population to get a good experience and service. However there’s serious lack of appropriate and fruitful use and we aim to address this in a systematic manner. 

Category – Tech

Beneficiaries – 0
Activity – Awareness
Status – Design