Program Focus: 2008-2017
The strategic focus of this program is to economically secure rural people especially women with an aim to focus on agriculture development (including Fruit / vegetable / kitchen gardens), food security, diversification of income through promoting non-farm entrepreneurships and irrigation water management.
The livelihoods of the majority of people in the southern Punjab depend primarily on subsistence agriculture and natural resources. Marginalized rural households are neither able to generate economic surplus from subsistence activities nor are they able to find stable off-farm employment opportunities. AWAZ believes that unless employment and income opportunities are developed locally, the traditional reliance on subsistence activities is unlikely to alleviate this chronic and growing poverty in the areas. The sustainable way to promote new employment and income opportunities is to exploit the resource endowments and comparative advantages of rural niches. The challenge was to transform the prevailing mode of subsistence agricultural production into one complimented by commercially viable agriculture.
Southern Punjab offers immense scope for income enhancement through rural enterprise. ARID ensures access of the target rural people especially women to information, necessary skills, technology, markets, and capital and the corresponding enabling services using a community-based approach. Furthermore, in order to ensure the continued success of such initiatives, part of ARID’s mandate is to influence the adoption and implementation of supportive public policies. Such policies ensure the sustained involvement of the private sector and include intermediary institutions that can establish a gainful mutual relationship with poor rural households. AWAZ has built this integrated program on its previous studies, findings, and experiences that clearly indicate that agricultural transformation is the most important pillar for diversifying the incomes and alleviating poverty on a large scale in the area. AWAZ’s work on globalization revealed that options to minimize risks in the rural context are closely linked to: (a) focus on high-value exportable niche products and services, (b) enhanced skills and entrepreneurial capacities in communities, and (c) effective support systems through equitable and dependable external marketing links.