The SARA Centre views farmers and their primary stakeholders and therefore is continually engaged in building a support structure for the community; with the view to encourage grassroots innovation. The centre is focussed on engagements between the farming community and field experts, scientists, artists and innovators on an ongoing basis.
In order to engender sustainable lifestyles and to encourage a return to self-sifficiency, it is a necessity today, to understand the issues that pose the most significant detriment to the welfare of the farming communities in the region. Agricultural practices in the region have become far too influenced by industrialisation, monoculture and the use of chemicals; and as a result biodiversity and soil health have become pressing concerns for the local agrarian communities.
Deforestation and the vanishing water table – as recently as a few decades ago the main sources of water in the region were community based sources in e.g. in markets public squares etc. There were small lakes and wells (silt water) that were deemed to be sufficient for local consumption. However since the coming of industrialisation, monoculture farming quickly became the norm and the need for mass production of crops and rapid deforestation – water retention in the area has suffered, mainly because forests were the main water retention sources in earlier times. Reduced water retention affected crops cycles – e.g. second crops became greatly reduced an the overall produce was greatly affected. In the recent past a number of bore-wells have appeared – but they were also not very successful initially, mainly due to the regions geological makeup, which is made up of deep layers of granite bedrock. Although bore wells were expensive, many were attempted but they often failed as the granite bedrock does not retain water half as much as muddy or porous geology.
Most farming practices in the region are labour intensive because of the rough terrain – vehicles, push carts are difficult to use, and therefore people tend to carry goods on their heads and on foot. Harsh work and labour intensive farming has led to mass disenchantment and therefore locals are more and more interested in emigrating to urban centres in search of alternative means of livelihood.
Apathy of civic authorities or departments towards farmers is rampant e.g. The Regional Agriculture Office and The Horticulture Office – are two surprisingly separate entities when in fact multi crop farming is the norm, in many instances poor governance is endemic in the region and implementations are often victim to red tape and lengthy paper trails that lead only to the theatrics of formality and political brown nosing. Most environmental departments are busy handing out licenses and clearances to industries and agents of heartless modernization, and in fact do not seem to have little direct involvement in actual environmental conservancy or preservation activities.