Our Programmes

Our Programmes

IDEI works with the mission to improve equitably the social, economic and environmetal conditions of families in needs with special emphasis on the rural poor by identifying, developing and disseminating affordable, appropriate and environmentally sustainable solutions through the market forces.

This entails working closely with the rural poor, specifically the smallholder farmers. It also involves facilitating them to engage in meaningful livelihood opportunities and aid income generation. IDEI believes that once the poor farmers start generating income they start walking the path of a poverty free life. In IDEI’s experience, farmers use this disposable income more constructively in activities like ploughing back into agriculture, renovating their houses, repaying old debts, asset creation and started secondary businesses and thereby walk the path of prosperity.

IDEI works with smallholder farmers and promotes cultivation of high value food crops. It works closely with the farmers in identifying the log jams in increasing productivity and open up pathways for smallholders to increase the productivity. This in turn unfolds better prospects for the farmers to negotaiate with the traders for better financial returns.  

With the weather vagaries and changing climatic conditions, it has become imperative that IDEI creates opportunities for these poor farmers to engage in activities that will sustainabily increase agricultural productivity and incomes  while adapting and building resilience to climate change and reduce green house emissions wherever possible.

This is achieved by implementing the following projects:

1)    Sustainable Agriculture
2)    Income Enhancement Programme
3)    Climate Smart Agriculture


Smallholder poor farmers face many problems. Low soil fertility and lack of access to quality inputs along with salinated and water logged soil contribute to low yield, production risks and natural resource degradation. Inadequate infrastructure, land tenure biased against the poor, under developed markets, and lack of access to credit and technical assistance add impediments.

IDEI based itself on the premise that if water related constraints, the key constraints for smallholder farmers will be removed, there will be year round irrigation and therefore agricultural production and an increase in income. Experience revealed that this assumption is correct however not completely. While all farmers generated similar base figure annually with the use of IDEI promoted technologies, there are others who generate much more than this income. Studies conducted revealed that high earning families are those who are self sufficient in their staple food crops and also have been able to overcome the barriers, ie the market constraints after the water constraints. They were able to enhance their participation by purchasing right inputs, making effective use of technical knowledge and market information, and developing stable linkages to output markets.

In order to create conditions necessary for a large number of rural poor to work their way out of poverty, IDEI moved beyond technology and adopted the Sustainable Agricultural Approach. Through this IDEI aims at addressing few of the several challenges from the input to the output stage.

The programme includes the following components:


This will cover all aspects that concern themselves with the goods, services and information required for agricultural production. At this stage the key constraints include lack of low-cost water lifting devices, lack of quality horticulture planting material and absence of agricultural extension services providers. This includes, first and foremost addressing the key challenge of smallholder farmers of accessing water for year round irrigation. IDEI promotes affordable irrigation devices amongst the poor farmers which they adopt and overcome this constraint. The next is the challenge of encountering seeds of inferior quality or spurious seeds. In its experience, IDEI has learnt that incomplete labelling and use of English (language) for labelling becomes an obstacles for farmers to get the exact information about the product they are buying. As a result, farmers end up buying expired seeds or low quality ones even without their knowledge. In response, IDEI is promoting Vegetable Nurseries in the villages. The concept of nurseries is not new however, mostly in villages farmers establish nurseries for paddy (seasonal) or for flowers and not for vegetables. IDEI promotes vegetable nurseries as this is one of the simple and economical way of mitigating the risk. IDEI builds the capacities of smallholder farmers who have overcome irrigation challenges (either through IDEI promoted technologies/ through other devices) and can spare some land on their field exclusively for establishing nursery. These are called Service Entrepreneurs. Through this the entrepreneurs provide good quality sapling to farmers in close proximity, promote solution to assured germination in the field and promoted high value crop cultivation that will bring good returns to the poor farmers. In addition, IDEI is promoting the concept of developing soil health cards amongst the farmers. To facilitate this IDEI collects soil sample from the field of representative farmers as specified by the agencies and deposits at the nearest institution. Once analysed IDEI shares the analysis with the respective farmers and encourages them to undertake the required treatments for betterment of the soil.


This involves inclusion of all those goods and services that are required to cultivate crops for self-consumption and for sale to output markets. Challenges in this stage include low awareness regarding best agricultural practices, viability of pure extension models and information exchange amongst farmers on crop knowledge.

Under this stage of the programme, IDEI builds the capacities of already identified farmers (who have ovecome constraint of accesing water for irrigation) and call them Service Entrepreneurs. The capacities of these farmers are further built in developing bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides and plant nutrient. The entrepreneurs then package these materials and sell to other farmers. These items are developed from locally available material such as dried leaves, cow dung etc and are therefore not very expensive. This is two pronged approach that creates a win-win for both the producer farmer (Service Entrepreneur) and the other farmers who purchase these material from the entrepreneur. The user farmers save money as these are cheaper than other available material and the entrepreneur is able to augment her/his income.


This involves the aspects of connecting farmers/ produce with the markets/ traders; to move the small farm production from field to consumers at economically rewarding process. Some key challenges include absence of affordable quality value addition technologies, absence of working capital to negotiate better prices and information systems regarding market requirements about demand, timing, quality and prices. In order to help the farmers get a better return, IDEI team collects market information on high value crops (from local markets, haats etc) and information on crop prices/ price trends is captured through the mobile services. In an instant it provides information on crop prices from across different mandi’s. This is followed by a complete analysis of what all crops the farmers are currently undertaking followed by a cost benefit analysis. Cultivation of those with envisaged higher returns are then discussed and adopted by the farmers and the IDEI team connects them with the established Service Entrepreneurs. In addition to this, the team also collects best practices being already followed by farmers/ suggested which are then whetted by the experts and then upon confirmation, these are compiled, documented and then disseminated amongst the smallholder farmers. As the last connecting link, local traders and other players in the markets are identified. The team makes an effort to interface the farmers with the local traders and other similar stakeholders. This helps the farmer to negotiate a better price for their produce.


Livelihood diversification plays a major role in providing options of supplementing income from core agricultural activities through on-farm or off-farm activities, mitigating risks by providing additional support to agricultural income generated by the farmers.

IDEI is undertaking two pilot projects under this programme. These are as follows:

Agriculture and Allied Sector

IDEI has started to work in the allied sector as well. One of the projects is on apiculture/ honey bee farming. Bees play an important and irreplaceable role as pollinators in the environment. While it can be done by a number of other insects such as butterflies, bumblebees and other however honeybees are the most efficient pollinators.

Recognising that the benefit of beekeeping is 40 times more than the value of honey and beewax, the first National Commission on Agriculture (1976) in India has recommended beekeeping purely as an agricultural input and put forth a plan for apiculture until 2000.  
The population segment that IDEI works with targets the smallholder farmers who are hard pressed not only for land but for all other resources. IDEI is therefore conducting a pilot on apiculture with few selected farmer entrepreneurs in the state of Odisha. Since the total cost of starting honeybee farming is low, IDEI is proposing to establish demonstration plots and based on the success of the programme w.r.t net financial return the programme will be replicated to other districts that are conducive for honey bee farming.
IDEI is conducting training programme for the identified entrepreneurs.


IDEI is already promoting cultivation of vegetables amongst the smallholder farmers who are otherwise engaging only in rainfed agriculture and in staples. This brings them high return. In addition to promoting vegetables cultivation, IDEI is undertaking a pilot programme in promoting cultivation of spices that will contribute highly to their incomes.

IDEI is promoting black pepper cultivation amongst identified entrepreneurs. Under the pilot programme, IDEI is establishing demonstration plots. The identified farmers are being trained by the experts in the cultivation of black pepper. The team has collected the soil sample and given for soil testing to the concerned institution. The results and the soil health card will be shared with farmer. In case some urgent intervention is required, IDEI will discuss and facilitate with the entrepreneur.

Based on the success of the programme, w.r.t financial returns to the farmers the project will be further replicated in other locations with other farmers.


IDEI is introducing irrigated agriculture to farmers and with it promoting vegetable cultivation. This contributes to increased monetary returns for the farmers. In a new initiative, IDEI is identifying key four-five crops and will identify the log jams in increasing productivity of these crops. The basis of identification includes, among other things, the suitability of cultivation w.r.t agro-climatic conditions, agro-ecologic zones, opportunities to create forward linkages for the farmers and so on and so forth. IDEI is working to increase the productivity by 15-20 percent (at a minimum) from the same land. IDEI believes that this will transform the lives of smallholder farmers as they will generate much higher income and therby lead better lives.


The concept simply put expressed a need to adjust / make changes in agriculture to better adapt to a changing climate. It  would therefore naturally involve interventions in the areas of technology, services and most importantly strategies that would help farmers better adapt to climate changes.
At IDEI we have introduced innovative, affordable technologies that allow for year round irrigation and therefore cultivation in the hands of the smallholder farmers. These technologies reduce green house gas emissions in agriculture and contribute towards conserving water in agriculture as well. These technologies increase the resilience of the user farmers.

Water Storage

The water storage technologies are used in conjunction with the water application devices. In many semi arid areas, the brief monsoon season brings with it an abundance of water. However, this water is wasted and there is an acute shortage of water during the rest of the year when it is conducive to cultivate high-value vegetable crops and horticulture, especially when these crops fetch a remunerative price. Capturing rainwater and storing it for use during these months is not possible due to the high cost of storage structures. With a view to provide low-cost storage to help farmers optimise the use of water in agriculture IDEI developed water storage bags of varying capacities.

Water Storage Products
Water application

IDEI’s water application technologies are significantly low in cost, available in small packages, operate at very low pressure and are easy to operate. Since it does not require high initial cost it removes entry barrier for small farmers to adopt drip irrigation. A farmer can irrigate more crop area per unit of water used as it requires 60-70 percent less water when compared with traditional surface irrigation system. The slow and regular application of water maintains optimum moisture at the root zone which improves plant quality and yield increases by 30-50%.

Water application Products
Water Lifting

IDEI’s water lifting technologies are characterized and are driven by human energy with a combination of lifting and pumping device. Delivery arrangements allow the water to be dropped into a channel or delivered under pressure into a pipe. All technologies provide rated water discharge (specified for each technology) and are reliable requiring least maintenance. There are no recurring costs. The technologies allow the farmer to lift water to his convenience without any need/ worry for storage. These technologies can be used to cultivate all types of crops. Since these are low on cost they can be easily afforded by the farmer and the extensive supply chain network meets with the demand requirements easily and quickly.  

Water Lifting Products
Water Accessing

Access to irrigation water is a critical issue facing most smallholder farmers across India. Even in areas where groundwater is abundant such as parts of eastern and northern India, smallholder farmers do not have the means to access this groundwater. IDEI is promoting low-cost bore-wells in such areas with high water table. These bore-wells are cheap enough and can be afforded by the poorest farmer and be easily installed. Typically, these bore-wells cost USD 20 inclusive of the pipes and drilling cost.


Water Accessing Products
Products will be listed soon ...

IDEI has successfully promoted the KB or Krishak Bandhu (Farmer’s Friend) brand as a premium smallholder-friendly brand. All IDEI promoted low-cost technologies are promoted under this registered trade mark. The KB logo combines the name, a 5 leaf branch to connote cultivation and yield and thereby, agricultural prosperity and four curved lines to indicate irrigation. The brand is well recognized and has come to symbolize good quality at affordable prices.


IDEI has successfully promoted the KB or Krishak Bandhu (Farmer’s Friend) brand as a premium smallholder-friendly brand. All IDEI promoted low-cost technologies are promoted under this registered trade mark. The KB logo combines the name, a 5 leaf branch to connote cultivation and yield and thereby, agricultural prosperity and four curved lines to indicate irrigation. The brand is well recognized and has come to symbolize good quality at affordable prices.

Products will be listed soon ...
Market Development

Developing new technology products & enhancements for small-plot agriculture is IDEI’s guiding mission. The ruthless pursuit of affordability, infinite expandability and miniaturising are a hallmark of IDEI technology development. Each IDEI technology is designed to be one-fifth the cost of its competitors, scaled down to fit one-tenth hectare plots, and able to generate sales at an unsubsidized market price.

Promotional activities

Developing new technology products & enhancements for small-plot agriculture is IDEI’s guiding mission. The ruthless pursuit of affordability, infinite expandability and miniaturising are a hallmark of IDEI technology development. Each IDEI technology is designed to be one-fifth the cost of its competitors, scaled down to fit one-tenth hectare plots, and able to generate sales at an unsubsidized market price.

Promotional activities
Past projects

IDEI works for the poor farmers and challenges itself to address the needs of its target audience. In response to farmer needs IDEI has conceived and implemented several high impact projects in the past. IDEI does not limit itself and believes in collaborating with other organisations and agencies to create meaningful programmes. In addition to implementing programmes itself, IDEI believes in conceptualising, incubating, field testing and leading innovative projects to the commercialisation stage. It has in the past undertaken several high impact projects and after taking them to the point of commercialisation, handed them to other credible organisations for scaling up.


IDEI has worked targeting the poor farmers and conceptualised programmes that would help them increase their incomes. These programme were implemented in different state of India, to illustrate; the System of Rice Intensification was implemented in the state of West Bengal; , Integrating Markets, Products & Partners: An Action Research to Explore & Develop a Management System for Linking Tribal Communities to Markets Through Value Addition was implemented in the Eastern state of Odisha and; programme titled, Sustainable Retailing of Post Harvest Technology to the Poor: Alternative Institutional Mechanims for Developing and Transferring Technology was implemented in Himachal Pradesh.
This section will provide detailed information of each of these and other projects that IDEI has undertaken in the past.

Read the study here