Sustainability Champions: The Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems (CIKS)

By: CIKS and the Feeding City Team

Information about CIKS

The Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems (CIKS) is located in the city of Chennai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where it operates the CIKS Technology Resource Centre. CIKS is an important interlocutor in the areas of organic agriculture, biodiversity conservation, Indian plant science (Vrkshayurveda), and farmers’ collectives. The CIKS methodology involves looking deep into the heart of these ancient knowledge systems to gain a strong understanding of their workings and rationale. The understanding and knowledge gained from their initiatives are leveraged to develop solutions that are practical and feasible in today’s context.  

Partner Organizations and Current Programs

 CIKS was founded by Dr. A V Balasubramanian (Balu) and Dr. K.Vijayalakshmi (Viji) in the 1990s. The CIKS network includes its partner organization Sempuman Sustainable Solutions (SSS) . With a team of scientists, researchers and farmers, Sempulam thrives to create sustainable farming solutions. These solutions include business plans, technical advice, organic certification and micro enterprises. The CIKS network has helped support 110,000 farmer families and 650 farmers’ institutions involved in sustainable agriculture. The organization also operates field offices and demonstration farms across Tamil Nadu. Its CIKS Flood Relief Project has worked to support farmers adversely affected by tropical cyclones such as Nivar and Burevi. For over a decade, CIKS has worked with the Small Farmers Agri Business Consortium (SFAC), an initiative that supports eleven farmer producer organizations spread across seven districts of Tamil Nadu. It also works with the DST Support Program, an initiative to train and mentor tribal people in sustainable agricultural technologies such as vermicomposting. In 2022, CIKS was selected as one of  #GROW’s100 – a collection of stellar grassroots organisations: GROW’s 100 initiative

CIKS is a leader in the preservation and dissemination of traditional knowledge around indigenous rice varieties, as well as in supporting their sustainable production and distribution. Its Sustainable Agriculture Technologies For Farmer Producer Collectives program involved the marketing of over 5000 metric tons of traditional rice across nine different cities of India. An innovative social outreach initiative from CIKS & Sempulam partner is the Nammu Nellu program that enlists members of the public in its mission to ADOPT and SAVE traditional rice varieties, their indigenous knowledge, and conserve their ecologies. More information on this program is available here: Namma Nellu Website and Namma Nellu Facebook Page.

Publications and Knowledge Dissemination

 CIKS is a key interlocutor in the dissemination of Indian agriculture and sustainability knowledge. The organization has produced a wealth of open-access knowledge in the form of published reports and eBooks. Altogether, it has published around 200 publications in six languages, including, Tamil and English, including the English and Tamil editions of the CIKS books Traditional Rice Varieties of Tamil Nadu and Preparation of a Source on Vrkshayurveda. Approximately 200,000 copies of these publications have been distributed across India, Sri Lanka, and 36 other countries.  Other knowledge sharing initiatives, include the short documentary Myriad Hues of Rice.

 For more information, visit the organization’s website: