Sheshrao Mankar ji, is a well-known social worker and international development expert with 40-year’s experience in the field of community-based livelihood interventions. He worked with Maharogi Seva Samiti (India’s first organization working for leprosy patients founded by the Gandhian worker Mr. Manoharji Diwan, then moved to ASSEFA (Association of Sarva Seva Farms) in the year 1981. In ASSEFA, he led the programme management team for Maharashtra and initiated various community-based development activities for tribal communities, landless, small and marginal farmers, and women. Hon. Mankar was engaged as a team member for setting up the community banking programme for ASSEFA and played a key role in expanding the community banking programme to rural areas of Madhya Pradesh and Rajashtan. Mr. Mankar later founded Gram Swaraj Seva Trust (GSST) in the year 1998.
Message from Founder
I take the privilege to profess that with the motivation from Gandhain philosophy and the rural spirit for collective sustainable development, GSST has reached to a notable mark of excellence and achievement reflected in the lives of its beneficiaries. We started the work of GSST from a scratch when our country was going for the process of globalization and liberalization. Our vision to enter in to the collective development process was largely due to the exclusion of rural communities and saturated metro-based urban economy leading to stressful migration. The Gandhian principles of Gramswaraj and Sarvodaya were the roots of our perspective on the development process wherein we took an initiative to come forward with a collective development paradigm through GSST. We started working on enabling the farmer’s ability to develop vale chains across farming and allied livelihood. At the same time, we promoted and facilitated establishment of non-farm enterprises that altogether led to effective circulation of capital in the region. While the feeling of pride and self-esteem was our major motivation to continue working in the deprived Vidarbha region, we have maintained professionalism in ensuring evidence-based growth of our beneficiaries on social, economic, health, education and other such indicators.
At this juncture, when our country and the whole rural development sector are going through a transition, GSST has diversified its development action to meet the needs of ongoing development process in the country. Without losing attention given to the rural farm and non-farm based self-employment, GSST has started diversifying its activities to skill building of rural youth and adults so that they can make their livelihoods by accessing and utilizing economic opportunities in the surrounding urban zones.
No efforts of collective development are possible without support of our generous funding agencies and entities that are part of our journey. With visible threat coming from global climate change, there is need of multiplying our support systems wherein GSST can play a major role. With much gratitude, I am taking this opportunity to call all funding agencies and potential local, regional, national, and global donors to come forward and help us supporting and facilitating the holistic human development in Maharashtra
Wishing well-being and happiness to all!
The committed and dedicated development work and notable contribution of Gram Swaraj Seva Trust (GSST) has received a nationwide recognition from its beneficiaries, funding agencies, government, trusts and partner NGOs, and all stakeholders. The recognition s that GSSThas received as a token of appreciation from the world is indicative of acknowledgement of GSST’s vision for integrated rural development.
The Indo-German Watershed Development Program (IGWDP) :
It is a flagship program dedicated towards recreating natural watershed systems through conservation and ecological restoration of watershed through mobilization of communities and participatory approaches. As a community-based partner of IGWDP program, GSST has mobilized communities across all project villages in Arvi and Karanja block and formed community based groups that planned and implemented watershed development activities across semi-arid and low-rain fed areas. Under this program, GSST has completed Watershed Development work at Susund, Rampur, Krishnpaur and Khairi.
NABARD Supported Holistic Watershed Development Programme (NHWDP) :
Launched in 2006, the NABARD Supported Holistic Watershed Development Programme (NHWDP) has been a specialized program for distressed farming districts in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. GSST has been part of the NHWDP program right from its inception. The NHWDP includes some amount of voluntary labour contribution from the community members. GSST, based on its Gandhian principles has motivated substantial number of community members to come forward voluntary and contribute voluntary labour (“Shramdaan”). GSST has been working on the watershed development activities in the Hashi, Kharshi, Dahiwad, Sandava, Mandava, and Dhansigh Nagar rural zones in the Yavatmal district.
Promoting Self-Help Groups :
Truly acknowledging and facilitating the contribution of rural women in the overall development, GSST has been engaged in promoting and supporting formation of SHGs in the region. While the SHGs are mainly aimed at inclusive banking, GSST has transcended the groups from merely a saving group to an enterprising organization of rural women by facilitating support for income generation activities. GSST has supported 244 groups in Yavatmal and Wardha district of Vidarbha region to form vibrant and enterprising SHGs.
Organic Farming :
With its emphasis on ecologically sensitive development model, GSST has been engaged in promoting organic farming methods in Wardha and Yavatmal districts of Vidarha. The organic farming techniques and approaches are not only environmentally sustainable but area also capable of reducing the input cost for the distressed farmers in the Vidarbha region. With such integrated objectives GSST has conducted several demonstrative and supportive activities for organic farming.
A. Farmer’s Demonstrative Education :
Having a dedicated experimental farming field area at the campus of GSST, we conduct periodic demonstrative activities for our beneficiaries engaged in farming activities. At a 3.5 acre farming land, GSST demonstrated use of several organic farming techniques including use of organic manures and pesticides. The yield of Soyabean for last year was at the count of 22 quintal which was without much input cost that is generally required in the chemically –intensive farming approaches.
B. Vermicomposting :
To enable farmers to use more organic manure to maintain the soil texture and provide nutrients, GSST periodically conducts demonstrative programs for farmers educating them on Vermicomposting techniques. These demonstrative educational sessions are aimed at equipping farmers with knowledge on sustainable farming philosophy and science.
Our Past Impact + Outcome
- Treated 12000 hectares area (forest, farmers land) under the watershed development program
- Increased water table in the villages enabled 6000 plus families to take 2 crops thus raised income of the small & marginal farmers
- No migration and farmers suicides happened in the Watershed villages till date
- More than 130 individuals trained as Panlot Sevak to maintain the structures created under the watershed development program
The committed and dedicated development work and notable contribution of Gram Swaraj Seva Trust (GSST) has received a nationwide recognition from its beneficiaries, funding agencies, government, trusts and partner NGOs, and all stakeholders. The recognition s that GSSThas received as a token of appreciation from the world is indicative of acknowledgement of GSST’s vision for integrated rural development.Our Past Impact + Outcome
Punyashlok Ahilyadevi Holkar Puraskar by Government of Maharashtra (2004-05)
Regional Watershed Prize for Vidarbha by Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR) (2000-2001)