Village Grain Banks for the Sahariya Tribals in MP and Rajasthan


SWRC Barefoot College is supporting underserved Sahariya tribal communities of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh by setting up Grain Banks in their villages to ensure they are hunger-free during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grain Banks are storage units managed by the community members, where basic food grains are stored and can be borrowed by families in need of food. 

The pilot Grain Banks will be implemented in 20 villages across 3 districts over the next 6 months, providing food security and an uninterrupted supply of essential grains to ~10,000 persons in need. 

Implementation partners: Sankalp Sansthan in Rajasthan and Sambhav Social Service Organisation in Madhya Pradesh



Detailed Project Description

SWRC is working with partner organizations in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to ensure food security for vulnerable families from the Sahariya tribal community in response to the hunger and large scale unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Sahariya communities are victim to high levels of malnutrition, chronic anemia, high prevalence of tuberculosis, and extreme poverty (exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic), which have left them extremely vulnerable. Almost 80% families in this community depend on daily wages for their livelihood by working at stone crushers, quarries, and farm labour, or manual labour. The remaining families are forest-dependent and support their livelihoods by cutting and selling wood. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the livelihoods of this community, forcing them to go hungry due to lack of income.


What are Grain Banks?

Keeping food security as the highest priority during this crisis, a Labour-Grain bank has been designed to provide essential foods at a village level to those in need, and is wholly managed by the community. If a family is in need of food, the labour-grain bank will issue an amount of grain against a promissory note of labour that is approved by the community members. Once the labour opportunity comes, the villager will use their earnings to buy back an equal amount of grain and give it back to the bank. Usually the grain is returned to the bank within a maximum time frame of 15-20 days since it is borrowed, thus keeping the stock fresh and replenished.

The Labour-Grain bank will located in a community-owned area and managed by a village committee through collective decision making processes. The committee will be trained and monitored for 1 year, after which the grain bank operations will be handed over to them. 



The project is currently being implemented in 20 villages of Sahariya tribal families from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, providing food security to almost 10,000 persons.

  • Sambhav NGO in 10 villages of Madhya Pradesh (Gwalior and Shivpuri districts)
  • Sankalp NGO in 10 villages of Rajasthan (Baran district)


Details of the Labour-Grain bank

  1. Storage capacity of each bank: Aata (Wheat): 400 Kilograms, Dals (Lentils) – 200 Kilograms, Total storage requirement at any given point of time – 600 Kilograms
  2. Operating/guarding the bank: A village committee will be created and trained on bookkeeping, weighing, lending and accepting the grain, and safe-guarding the bank. Members of this committee will be carefully selected by Sambhav staff and will include active members in the villages who have been associated with the organization for the last 20 years. These are people who have been a part of many activities and also the ‘Sahariya collective’ in the village. The proportion of men and women will be equal, and this will be a completely Sahariya owned initiative.
  3. Selecting a location for the bank: Location will be finalized after consultation with the Grain committee and village community. The location will be limited to community-owned areas and not private property.
  4. Total beneficiaries: One single Labour-Grain bank is being designed to cater to 100-150 families at a given point of time (approx. 400 persons). 10 banks will cater to 1000-1500 families or 4000-6000 persons.
  5. Community contribution: Contribution from the community members will be encouraged to ensure ownership and long-term sustenance of the system. The community will be responsible for (1) providing room/storage area for the grain, (2) managing the storage unit post setup


Proposed Activities:

  1. Identification/ Formation of Labor-Grain Committee – The committee will have equal representation of women and men.
  2. Training of Grain committee on Grain bank management
  3. Bringing the community on-board – Conducting community orientation for the village residents on the concept and acceptance of Grain-Labor Bank
  4. Identifying a common location for storage of the Grains
  5. Stocking the Grain Center with rationally enough grains to serve at least 100 families at a time
  6. Providing hands-on support to the Grain committee on the operation of Grain-Labor bank
  7. Post-handover monitoring and support