In June NABARD approved a grant for us to pilot our environmental stewardship programme along-side the solar rural electrification programme. Finding a way of getting the groups that we help to access solar electrification to engage with us on activities beyond electrification, to change their means of production and consumption, beyond swapping kerosene for solar, has always been our ambition for the rural electrification programme. In time we plan for such activities to be entirely self-financing as well. For the time being however we are very grateful to NABARD for once again placing their trust in Mlinda.
NABARD has provided about €1,500 for us to work with our local partners to train farmers in agricultural processes that promise to increase their yields while replacing chemical fertilisers and pesticides with organic fertilisers in the Sundarbans and Purulia. In Purulia, one of the poorest areas of West Bengal, 40 farmers have already signed up for the scheme. In exchange for membership to the environmental stewardship groups we set up and the associated access to bank credit schemes, the farmers agree to curb harmful rice cultivation methods.