3 In this article, the farmers referred to are cotton farmers in the state of Punjab, India. 4 Oswal was not aware of Appreciative Inquiry before I shared a brief with him, yet his life and business philosophy seem to be guided by heliotropic principles, as is evident from his constant search for opportunities in the face of adversities. Driven by abundant curiosity and possibility thinking, his perennial question is – ‘So what are we doing right and what can be done better’! AIP February 11 Verma: Sustainable Leadership in India His search uncovered a few success stories even in the midst of such widespread misery.
AI Practitioner February 2011 13 Volume 13 Number 1 ISBN 978-1-907549-04-5 • Agricultural graduates were appointed, trained and placed in villages as ‘Cluster Incharge’. Local village youth were inducted as scouts to mobilize and influence the farmers to participate in the sensitization and training sessions. • The farmers’ training and education was anchored by ‘Punjab Agriculture University’, which graciously came forward to partner with VCAP team. • Community elders, local Gurudwara (worship place) committees and school children were included in sensitization campaigns because of their emotional appeal among local people. • Banks were encouraged to facilitate soft borrowing for farmers local to them, thereby saving the farmers from money lenders. Impact Started in 2003 with just one village and 121 farmers, by 2008-9 VCAP had impacted 251 villages and 23,930 farmers. VCAP ushered in economic and social stability and growth in the state of Punjab at a time when the farmers were drowning in debt and despair, and the textile industry was facing viability threats. The impact happened at many levels: People • An award-winning farmer (who later graduated in management) quipped in Punjabi, ‘jag aayi, jag gaye haur jam paye’ (we became aware, we awoke and we empowered ourselves). • ‘Punjab Agricultural University’ was involved in training farmers in scientific techniques including crop management, pesticide administration, seed selection, soil and water testing, etc. A snapshot of farmers’ knowledge assessment before and after VCAP training is shown in Table 1. Knowledge Score Before VCAP After VCAP Low (13-31) 140 (74%) 36 (19%) Medium (31-49) 50 (26%) 123 (65%) High (49-67) 0 31 (16%) Mean Score 25.67 38.68 Equipped with business management training, farmers are now better able to negotiate, maintain basic accounts and liaise with banks, thus enhancing their financial security, confidence and social esteem. Profit Year 2002 -03 2008 - 09 VCAP villages’ yield (kg per hectare) 303 915 Punjab Textile Yield Spun: Lakh Spindles Produced: Lakh Bales 16.61 10.4 21.99 17.5 Table 1: Knowledge scores before and after the VCAP programme Table 2: Produce comparisons 2002- 03 versus 2008-09 AIP February 11 Verma: Sustainable Leadership in India ‘We became aware, we awoke and we empowered ourselves.’
AI Practitioner February 2011 14 Volume 13 Number 1 ISBN 978-1-907549-04-5 Planet • VCAP was instrumental in reviving the dying cotton crop in the region which was geo-climatically best suited for this arid zone. A local farming community claims that ‘cotton is to MALWA (the specific Punjab cotton belt) what Heer is to Ranjha. VCAP united them back.’ • Restoration of environmental was well-being begun by stopping the
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