The growing Indian paper industry has generated a great internal demand for raw material. Sustainable Agro International (SAI) has seized the opportunity to transform this demand into a solution to help small farmers improve their livelihoods with an innovative agro-forestry model.

The region of Rayagada in the State of Odisha is one of the poorest in India. There, small farmers constitute the bulk of the rural poor, with 90% of them living below the poverty line. Incapable to provide for their families, many of them are opting out of agriculture and looking for new job opportunities in surrounding cities, a situation that is leading to large fluxes of urban migration and abandoned land.

Our partner SAI, selected as one of the most promising social entrepreneurship projects of UnLtd India, provides a truly innovative solution to turn the tide of poverty in remote rural areas in Odisha.

By leveraging the growing demand for pulp coming from the Indian paper industry, SAI’s agro-forestry programme aims to cultivate 300 hectares of barren land to provide income-generation opportunities to 500 small farmers’ families. Farmers associated to SAI’s model receive quality inputs for their production (plant seedlings, pest control products) and are trained and accompanied in the planting and nurturing of trees from production to cultivation and supply.

Farmers are also taught intercropping techniques by SAI, to assist their cultivation of additional agricultural crops that can provide supplementary income or food security for them and their families.

The programme aims to ensure the prosperity of local farmers. In 2018, 360 new farmers were trained by SAI on land preparation and good farming techniques. Of these, 344 were integrated into SAI’s agroforestry scheme: totalling 785 farmers since the project’s inception in 2017.

I am very happy, and welcome SAI and the Trafigura Foundation for changing small farmers’ life. We did not have a future. Now, we can fulfil our dreams of earning livelihoods while staying at home,” says Mr Jaya Jani in the village of Mundajhala. “The land, which my forefathers cultivated, was left by my father as he did not have money. With the help of SAI, I am now able to cultivate it again.”

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Key figures


farmers trained in agro-forestry


new farmers earned an income from intercropping

360 farmers trained in agro-forestry
240 new farmers earned an income from intercropping

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