Background



SAJJATA SANGH (A NETWORK OF NGOS OPERATIONAL IN GUJARAT)

Sajjata Sangh is a network of Non Government Organisations engaged in natural resource management through a participatory process in different parts of Gujarat. Sajjata Sangh as a concept evolved over a period of five years i.e. 1995-2000, under the leadership of Mr. Anil Shah, Chairman, and DSC. The process of collectivization started parallel to the implementation of Government sponsored Watershed Development Programme. The process of networking was initiated by forming Sajjata Samiti - a committee for capacity building, in order to facilitate the process of mutual learning and support among participating NGOs. The process led to formally setting up of the organisation as Sajjata Sangh registered under Registration of Societies Act (Reg. No. Guj/7716/Ahmedabad) and Public charitable Trust Act (Reg. No. F/7562/Ahmedabad) on 29th June 2000. The promoters of Sajjata Sangh include NGOs with long-term involvement in rural development process in general and in natural resource management in particular. The promoters are Aga Khan Rural Support Programme-INDIA (AKRSP-I), Development Support Center (DSC), Sadguru Foundation, VIKAS, Vivekanand Research and Training Institute, (VRTI) and Bhartiya Agro Industries Foundation (BIAF). Sajjata Sangh since its inception has concentrated on issues related to watershed development programme. The focus has been on initiating activities related to “watershed plus”. This includes organising workshops for facilitating interaction among representatives of NGOs, research community in Agriculture Universities, National Agriculture and Rural Development Bank (NABARD), private seed producers and Government organisations.

With increased access to water through watershed development activities the need was voiced by the farmers and NGOs for increased access to improved variety of seeds and other agricultural inputs, modern agriculture practices and implements etc. to enhance productivity and profitability of agriculture and allied activities. This need is more pronounced in the context of changing macro economic environment and its impact on agriculture sector. A series of workshops were organised by the Sangh in collaboration with Gujarat Agricultural University, on improved agricultural inputs and practices in major cash crops of Gujarat - cotton and groundnut. These workshops have provided a platform for the farmers and agriculture scientists and subsequently with seed producers and agriculture management experts to interact and have lead to better appreciation of farmers growing needs.

Sajjata Sangh, from a concept to an organisation has evolved over a period of last four years. The first meeting of five organisations working with DSC was organised in March 1996. Initially a need was expressed to facilitate internal process of learning through experience sharing. The aim was to strengthen the work and organisation through learning from each other. The process was articulated in form of Sajjata Samiti for Capacity Building. This was followed by series of meetings and consultations in which the need for such a forum was recognised and realised. During the process number of VOs interested in the process increased from 5 to 20. Along with members of VOs some senior Government officials from Rural Development department also showed considerable interest and participated in the consultation process.While the concept and form of the organisation evolved over a period of four years, along with capacity building the major of concern was on values of the member organisations. The participants expressed strong need to adhere to the principles of public life and work.