WHAT WE DO
Reliance Foundation works toward enriching the lives of the marginalized communities of India. It enhances livelihood opportunities and provides relevant information to help reduce risks for rural communities.
By deploying locally-relevant solutions, it also enhances rural livelihoods in agriculture, marine fisheries and other farm and non-farm based activities. The Foundation makes systematic efforts to improve the quality and productivity of rural assets, leading to increased and more reliable yields. This ensures increased incomes and better capacities among the targeted marginalized communities.
Some of the major initiatives under the Rural Transformation programme are:
Reliance Foundation Bharat India Jodo (RF BIJ)
Reliance Foundation’s flagship programme, Bharat-India-Jodo (RF BIJ), works to bridge the development gap between rural and urban India. Committed to rural transformation, the programme works with small and marginal farmers and helps farming households that have limited livelihood options. These farmers, who mostly own rain-fed lands, often lack irrigation sources and are typically dependent on single crops. They are often unable to cultivate their entire landholdings, either because the quality of land is poor or because they lack the necessary resources. With these factors severely limiting their earning potential, most of them are forced to migrate and seek work as unskilled labourers.
In this socio-economic landscape, RF BIJ empowers marginal farmers with sustainable livelihood practices. It strives to de-risk farming, minimise external dependencies and improve rural lives and livelihoods. It supports low cost and high output in sustainable agriculture, helping farmers increase their productivity and leverage the market to increase their income. The programme also organises farmers in collectives, to leverage the power of unity. These models of social and economic development are owned, controlled and managed by communities themselves, for the larger development of their members, the village, and the region.
Vision of RF BIJ
RF BIJ aspires to establish a holistic, self-reliant and sustainable model of rural transformation based on the principles of:
- Direct Action
- Sustainable Development, and
- Participatory Approach
At the heart of all RF BIJ efforts lies the desire to build strong and vibrant community-owned and managed institutions. Today, the programme supports more than 62,000 families across India through more than 540 vibrant village associations (VAs). RF BIJ mobilises and organises communities into these associations to promote collective ownership, decision making and common welfare. The VA members work together to meet collective aspirational goals.
In its endeavour to improve nutrition security, Reliance Foundation has supplemented the nutritional intake of rural households through promotion of small kitchen or backyard gardens, known as Reliance Nutrition Gardens (RNGs). These RNGs help improve the nutrition status of small and marginal farmers and their families, providing them with a diverse mix of vegetables, fruits and medicinal plants throughout the year.
Reliance Foundation works with small and marginal farmers to ensure food security in rural households. To increase the availability, affordability and accessibility of food, the programme is directly engaged in transforming more than 60,000 hectares of land with little or no productivity into fertile and productive lands (dharti farms), through sustainable agricultural practices.
At the heart of all initiatives undertaken by RF BIJ for sustainable livelihoods is water. Rain-fed agriculture being practiced by more than half the farming community, their entire livelihoods depend on the monsoons. And ironically, most of their farmlands receive low and erratic rainfall. In addition to this, the absence of proper irrigation infrastructure often results in crop failure. The only plausible solution to this challenge is the creation of alternative sources of water, and irrigation.
The availability of water also forms the core of food and nutrition security, good health, nutrition and hygiene. With large parts of rural India routinely grappling with severe drought, water security is essential in villages, where families need constant access to the resource to meet their household and cattle requirements. Through the implementation of water management initiatives, RF BIJ encourages the adoption of practices that help conserve water and replenish existing water sources.
RF BIJ follows a watershed approach, conserving every drop of water in-situ, through the adoption of local conservation methods. De-risking farmers and their farms from the extreme vagaries of the monsoons forms the basis of this engagement with communities. Depending on the geographical location, type of soil, agricultural practices and needs of the community, the Foundation has undertaken appropriate initiatives across 12 states. Many such RF BIJ initiatives have been appreciated by external agencies, including state governments.
RF BIJ helps communities secure their local ecosystems, with the larger aim of achieving sustainable development through biodiversity and natural resource management. The Foundation has put in significant effort to encourage ecological sustainability through resource conservation, use of cleaner resources and promotion of biodiversity.
Awards and Recognition
- Rama Krishna Bajaj National Quality Award: The RF BIJ programme has received the Rama Krishna Bajaj National Quality Award, Certificate of Merit 2015, under the NGO category. The award highlighted that the Foundation’s programme demonstrates effective, systematic and well-deployed approaches, responsive to the overall requirements of the selection criteria.
- An article capturing the transformation of the Krishna Dehariya village in Agar district, Madhya Pradesh, was published in Leisa India, a leading international magazine on sustainable agriculture. The article described the efficient water harvesting techniques adopted by the village, and the institution-building that has given villages a new lease on life, with the support of the BIJ initiative.
RF BIJ has engaged directly with more than 62,000 families in more than 500 villages across 12 Indian states. The model has been replicated from Radhanpur in Gujarat to Balangir in Odisha and from Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand to Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu. Furthermore, to facilitate research and development, RF BIJ has established the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture in Mouda, Nagpur.
The RF BIJ programme management system is ISO 9001:2015 compliant since June 2016. (The certificate was awarded in 2013 and renewed recently as per the standards set in 2015).
Reliance Foundation Information Services (RF IS)
Small and marginal fisherfolk, farmers and livestock owners need right information at the right time from the right source for right decision making in order to move up the value chain for higher income generation.
Reports like the Farmers Commission Report and International Telecommunication Report, among others, emphasize the importance of information, its reach and the role it plays in supporting livelihoods. Users increasingly want tailor-made, quality answers to their questions.
Reliance Foundation Information Services (RF IS) provides validated information services to different livelihood information seekers using modern Information and Communication Technologies(ICT). This bridges the gap between lab-derived knowledge and field-based skills. This multi-stakeholder partnership works towards risk reduction by loss aversion, potential additional income per individual and replenishment of natural resources.
Since its inception in 2013, the Reliance Foundation Information Services (RF IS) programme aims to provide critical information and linkages using various communication mediums to poor households. Information is disseminated though audio and dial out conferences, local cable TV, All India Radio, print media, voice and text SMS, Jio Chat, WhatsApp and field based programmes and trainings. These enables farmers to make better decisions in areas of livelihood, health and disaster preparedness. Themes covered on broadcasts include agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, health, employment, micro-enterprises and skill building.
Reliance Foundation Information Services partners with more than 700 knowledge partners to disseminate dynamic advisories to farmers and fisher folk through multiple communication channels. RF IS has reached more than 15,500 villages across 12 states and 2 Union Territories (Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Kerala, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, West Bengal, Puducherry and Daman & Diu).
The Reliance Foundation Information services adopts the following methodology:
- Entry plan to different geographic and thematic areas post analysis of secondary data on livelihood sector
- Identification of ground level grass-root network partners
- Listing out information and training needs using analysis of secondary data, reports and direct inputs from various government departments / institutions, opinions and observations of experts from that particular region, focus group discussions with communities
- Mapping the institutions / organisations / individuals based on expertise and leadership in a field and partnering with them for sourcing knowledge/ information in the form of content and resource persons for various programme activities
- Developing programme plan (Operational plans including right audiences, modes of intervention, choice of communication channels like interactive programmes, broadcast programmes, knowledge organisations to be involved and unit cost of
- Pilot testing of information dissemination on different modes
- Feedback from a set of target audience and experts for validation (Ground Truth) of the accuracy and efficacy of information served or made accessible to rural communities
- Running the interactive and dissemination programmes
- Enrolment drives to increase the reach of services to target audiences through rural advertisements (auto announcements, banners, public address system announcements, wall paintings, etc.) and Agricultural Melas / Zonal Agriculture Fair / Exhibitions based enrolments
- Running a toll free helpline number for providing necessary clarifications and suggestions for queries from farmers and enable a platform for two way communication
- Collecting case studies, feedback and partners opinions post dissemination
- Continuously refining the advisories with the help of regular feedback from the various stakeholders
- Programme Impact Assessment through studies
- Visibility through recognition by Govt departments / knowledge institutions / agricultural universities, local media – both print and electronic media, etc
- Audio / Dial out conferences that connect expert with remote rural communities in one village, multiple villages, multiple individuals across multiple villages
- Face-to-face awareness, training and on-field based demonstration programmes converted into digital modules for wider dissemination
- Knowledge on Wheels (visiting different field locations along with experts and providing awareness on a number of varied topics including a few demonstrations such as fertilizer management, pesticide application, etc.)
- Knowledge on Ocean (conducting marine fisheries related trainings such as GPS training, Hygienic Handling of Fish, etc.) at sea
- Static and Mobile Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinics: Diagnosing health issues in plants such as disease, nutrition deficiency etc. and providing the right solution and advisories to restore the health of the plants
- Health Camps
- Livestock Camps
- Local cable TV programmes – live phone in programmes, weather based agro , livestock and marine bulletins, scrolls, flash news and screening of pre-recorded agriculture, fisheries and livestock video modules
- Radio programmes – pre-recorded programmes, announcements and weather based agro , livestock , marine bulletins
- Print media (newspaper) – district-wise weather based agro , livestock , marine advisories bulletins dissemination through regional newspapers in vernacular language
- Customised voice and text SMS - advisories through mobile phones provide right information at the right time
- Knowledge Quiz - one question per week , fortnightly for each thematic area based on daily advisories dissemination and seeking answers and participation from target individuals
- Knowledge Debate - sharing and discussing various thematic areas based on advisories. As well as providing training for forthcoming seasonal based issues
- Partners Meet - regular meeting among multi-stakeholders to analysis the performance of the programme and mid-course correction
- Knowledge Fair - showcasing the activities to multi-stakeholders and getting their feedback. This event happens during the RIL Founder’s Day