Inclusive Livelihoods - India


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Inclusive Livelihoods - India


Help farmers like Neeraj learn important agricultural skills so they can develop a successful agricultural business providing a livelihood for themselves, their families and the local community.

This innovative organic farming programme focuses on improving food security and income of marginalised farmers and people with disabilities living in rural Uttar Pradesh – one of the poorest and most highly populated States in India.

This programme uses inclusive business models such as skills training, farming collectives and market links to bring about sustainable change for over 3,600 farmers.

In 2017 this programme was awarded a Zero Project award for introducing an innovative approach to inclusive employment and vocational training. With support from cbm New Zealand over the last nine years, many farmers with disabilities are now able to provide for their families, reducing the dependence on family members and increasing their voice in decision-making.


Disability within a rural family in India is often a source of discrimination and neglect. Persons with disabilities, particularly women, are left out of livelihood opportunities in rural areas of India due to lack of adequate skills and inaccessible production processes. 81% of those with disabilities involved in this programme had never received medical attention for their impairment. Almost half had not attended school, and many were called derogatory names and lived in social exclusion. Parents of children with disabilities are often unable to work due to the additional care-giving needs. The prevailing stigma of disability creates exclusion and traps people with disabilities and their families in a cycle of poverty.

Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India with the highest number of people living in poverty. Decades of dependence on farming with chemicals depleted the soil of nutrients and resulted in insufficient crops to feed the large population. Introducing organic and traditional farming techniques has reduced dependency on expensive agro-chemicals and improved the quality of soil. The result is larger yields and better health. With the agriculture sector continuing to act as the largest source of livelihood in India, and person with disabilities being left out of opportunities in development and urban growth, there is a clear need to create employment and livelihood opportunities in rural areas that are inclusive, marketable and sustainable.

This programme aims to create long-term change through transfer of knowledge on sustainable techniques and creating links to larger markets to generate greater income.


  • Training farmers and people with disabilities on organic agriculture and other traditional and innovative production chain activities.
  • Providing rehabilitation services, mobility devices and tailor-made tools for farmers with disabilities.
  • Supporting people with disabilities with market stalls, inclusive processing units and accessible greenhouses.
  • Creating market linkages and facilitating inclusive farming collectives to access larger markets.
  • Supporting organisations of persons with disabilities to amplify their voices at important village meetings.
  • Strengthening farmer’s livelihoods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional information


One-off, Every Week, Every 2 Weeks, Every 4 Weeks, Every Month, Quarterly, Annually


“Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the first fruits of the crops you sow in your field.” – Exodus 23:16

Neeraj is 21. He loves to play cricket and soccer, but most days you will find him singing away while working in his garden.

Neeraj was born blind in one eye and with low vision in the other which made it very hard to join activities with his peers, he was rejected because he tripped over a lot. He started school, but was told by his teachers not to bother continuing to secondary school as he couldn’t see the schoolwork. Rejected, Neeraj set out to find employment. He wanted to become a farmer but once again was told that it wasn’t possible because of his impairment. Without close friends and a livelihood Neeraj felt isolated, lonely and discouraged.

A few years ago Neeraj met staff from a cbm partner in India. Together they made a rehabilitation plan and Neeraj started exercises to strengthen his vision. After sharing his life goal to become a farmer, they identified the barriers that were getting in his way. Neeraj completed a year of business training where he was taught techniques for organic farming with reasonable accessible methods. His father provided him with a plot of land to set up a net-house and cbm provided materials for building, water collection and irrigation. The large seedling house was completed in just one week. Objects that could be tripped over were moved, garden plots were raised, and seedlings were labelled in large print so he could read them. Neeraj used a small model of the plot to learn his away around.

The training taught Neeraj how to make nutrient rich soil without chemicals. Despite a difficult start in life, his father is proud to say that Neeraj embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly with a strong work ethic. Neeraj now runs a very successful agricultural business growing and selling seedlings, vegetables and organic compost. Neeraj has a competitive advantage over other suppliers because his seedlings grow earlier in the season from the techniques he has learnt and the equipment he has. He is using his savings to build a hut near his garden, giving him the opportunity to live by himself for the first time. Neeraj no longer feels discouraged, instead, he is full of smiles and has plans to develop his business further with a business plan. With a new found confidence, Neeraj participates in local farming meetings and has found a great group of friends and a flourishing social life.