Transforming Lives and Land: Shaping a sustainable future for India’s tribal youth

The "Farmversity Fellowship" empowers marginalised young people to become organic farming leaders and social entrepreneurs. It plays a crucial role in the broader vision of transforming the entire Jhadol district into a thriving hub for organic farming.


The Green Revolution brought monoculture industrial farming to India, relying heavily on chemical inputs and genetically modified seeds. This approach has led to a significant decline in the diversity of Indian domestic food staples and has had detrimental effects on human health and natural ecosystems. In the past decade, thousands of Indian farmers have fallen into debt and tragically taken their own lives due to rising input costs, diminishing yields, and competition from imported produce. Moreover, modern education has devalued the dignity of farmers and the appeal of rural life, instead promoting urban lifestyles for an urban-based economy and a readily available, cheap labour force.

In the Jhadol district of Rajasthan, located about an hour away from the popular tourist city of Udaipur, these issues persist. The local population, predominantly consisting of indigenous groups, struggles to sustain their farming-based livelihoods due to small land holdings, degrading soil health and the continuing dependency on expensive chemical inputs. Moreover, a considerable number of indigenous youth drops out of school due to various reasons. They often feel frustrated and ashamed of their rural lifestyles, influenced by what they have been taught, and instead seek daily wage work in nearby cities.

However, we believe that this all-too-familiar narrative of urban migration and cultural identity and biodiversity loss can be transformed into a different story. By revitalising the local farm economy, providing meaningful education, and restoring healthy ecosystems, Jhadol has the potential to become a model region for the whole of India. It is within this context that our project partner, Shikshantar, has initiated the “Farmversity” programme.

Empowering Youth for Organic Farming Leadership

The Farmversity initiative plays a crucial role in the overall strategy to transform the entire Jhadol district, home to about 250.000 people, into a fully organic farming zone. It offers tribal youth the opportunity to acquire essential skills for the organic farming ecosystem while creating new prospects within their local communities.

By offering a comprehensive leadership programme in organic farming, the Farmversity empowers the young generation with invaluable knowledge, expertise, and a deep appreciation for the principles and practices of regenerative agriculture. This includes skills and know-how around the cultivation of native species and seeds, soil and water regeneration, animal husbandry, healthy cooking, processing and value addition, social media and communications, and social entrepreneurship.

Upon completion of the three months programme, the Farmversity fellows may choose to return to their family farms, transitioning to organic farming and leveraging the new market links developed through Farmversity and Shikshantar. Alternatively, they may explore other fields as diverse as Gaushala Management (a specialised profession relating to the management of cow shelters that protect old and abandoned cows), animal husbandry, event management, cooking & catering, water management, sustainable farm tourism, nursery management, or running bio-resource centres that provide organic inputs and training for local farmers.

To support their chosen paths, advanced training opportunities will be provided through Shikshantar’s extensive partner network. Additionally, selected fellows will receive seed funding to start their own initiatives.