Smallholder Adaptive Farming and Biodiversity Network (SAFBIN)

SAFBIN is an action research programme from Caritas Organisations to address the issues of climate change and food security of smallholder farmers in South Asia. The programme aiming to achieve SDG 2, is inspired by the achievements and mutual learning process of the Caritas Partners in a successful previous phase of regional programme under the European Union Global Programme on Agriculture Research for Development (ARD).

SAFBIN is a multi-dimensional and multi-sector programme aimed to address the agricultural development challenges of developing and emerging countries. The innovative models piloted by the smallholder farmers from five rainfed Agro-Ecosystems (AES) in South Asia will be scalable and replicable in all similar Agro-Ecosystems. This programme will primarily contribute in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 of United Nations: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture in South Asia”.

The overall programme will benefit about 40000 people living in 165 villages of 21 districts in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. The first phase of the programme will be implemented from April, 2018 in 95 villages of 11 districts, benefiting about 22000 people.

SAFBIN programme follows farmer led collective on-farm adaptive research, farming system and partnership approaches to empower the smallholder farmers in:

Caritas organisations part of this initiative are the official national organisations of the Catholic Bishops' Conference for social development in their respective countries. They are also members of Caritas Internationalis in Rome, which is a global confederation of 165 Catholic organisations working in humanitarian emergencies and international development. Implementing partners in South Asia are the members of Caritas Asia, which is also a strategic partner of this programme.

Caritas India, Caritas Bangladesh, Caritas Nepal and Caritas Pakistan will be implementing this programme in South Asia with the support of Caritas Austria and Caritas Switzerland. They will collaborate and partner with global and national research institutions, national agricultural research system and universities to implement this programme.


Case StudySafbin

To promote Local Food And Nutritional Security through Adaptive Small scale
Farming in four rainfed AES in South Asia in the context of climate change

  • Drought tolerant rice varieties help farmers to adapt to changing monsoon in Nepal

  •   | 
  • 01/05/2013

Suja Rokaya is 40 years old and owns a farm in Alayachour village, Surkhet district, Mid-Western Nepal. On his 9 kattha (0.3ha) he produces rice, vegetables and potatoes. 10 family members depend on the harvest. As his land is unable to produce enough food Mr. Rokaya leases another 0.5ha by an Adhiya arrangement. In this way, he was manages food security and income of his family.Suja Rokaya reports how low rice productivity, due to inadequate rains, unfertile soils and low technical knowledge, is a challenge for his farm.


„ We cannot stop climate change so we need to adapt. We are excited to see how the new rice varieties, made available by SAFBIN project, are performing in our fields under dry conditions”


As many other farmers, cultivating under rain-fed conditions, he noticed the fluctuation in the arrival of monsoon from one year to another which makes it difficult to decide when to establish rice nursery. Farmers are highly dependent on monsoon as their main rainfall season. Even if monsoon arrives in time, some seasons do not bring enough rains for proper growth of rice plants and good paddy production. Suja Rokaya shared that of the past nine years only three received timely and adequate rainfalls. These conditions, under which small farmers in this area have to manage, increasingly make farming a challenge. 

Upon joining “Chadani Small Holder Farmers Agriculture Research Group”, facilitated through SAFBIN project and implemented by Caritas Nepal, Suja Rokaya learned that the changing climate in Surkhet is part of a wider phenomenon called global warming. SAFBIN project supported the research group to plan, conduct, monitor and analyse farmer-led action research trials and test mitigation strategies for climate

change. Irregular rainfall, as main challenge of the area, was addressed by undertaking trials on newly released drought tolerant short duration rice varieties developed by the Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC), a partner in the SAF-BIN project. The “farmer group led action research” tested Sukha Dhan 2 (a ‘fat rice’) and Sukha Dhan 3 (a ‘thin rice’) against the locally used variety Radha 4. Additionally improved cultivation and fertilisation practises were introduced by SAF-BIN project (e.g. limitations of plants/hill, crop geometry, compost and farm manure, reduction of urea, adequate chemical fertilizer application).

Promising results of the initial trial period (2012) of this farmer led action research lead to an upscaling of trial area in 2013-14. The newly introduced Sukha Dhan 2 and 3 varieties provided greater grain and straw yields compared to Radha 4. Seed supply is ensured by the farmers themselves who keep new variety seeds for cultivation in the coming year.


"We were very excited to see the performance of the introduced varieties in 2012 which was a comparatively a dryer year. Sukha Dhan 2 is my favourite. It provided fat rice and is both suitable for home consumption and fetches good prices in the local market”.


By using the potential of the new rice varieties and improved farming practises Suja Rokaya is now able to realize an equivalent of 21.7t/ha as compared to 13.8t/hain the past. He has improved his food security from his own land from 5 to 11 months per year. In addition, he also is now increasing rice yield from his leased land by 50% which provides him with additional income from rice sale. Suja Rokaya is grateful to Caritas Nepal’s SAF-BIN project team and the European Union for assisting them to adapt to climate change in rice farming. Caritas Nepal is glad to see that farmers are adapting to climate change by selecting suitable drought tolerant varieties and by pursuing good practices in rice cultivation.



Authorship: Chintan Manadhar, Caritas Nepal

Editing: Romana Roschinsky (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)