COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Provision of Lift Irrigation Facility in Morachapada Hamlet of Ambernath Block of Thane District

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Background:

Morachapada hamlet of Chon in Ambernath block of Thane District consists of 88 tribal families and is very close to the city of Ambernath. 90% of the villagers are farmers, who cultivate during monsoon. Only 10% of the families who have land near the river were able do the cultivation throughout the year. However, 80% of the farmers have land about 2-4 km away from the river, essentially restricting their access to water. While there is a perennial water source in the vicinity, the financial crunch to lift water for irrigation from the river proved to be detrimental to these farmers. Because of this, majority of the farmers were unable to engage in year-long cultivation and were forced to seek menial jobs on daily wages on construction sites or as labourers in the farms in nearby villages.

 

Concern lent a helping hand to eighty-eight (88) tribal farmer families belonging to the marginalized sections of Morachapada through Integrated Village Development Model. Relevant interventions were undertaken to strengthen the farmers. These included providing them with quality seeds, trainings, and farmer kits, promoting multi-farming techniques, promoting renewable energy through solar energy and supporting women and reviewing Self Help Groups (SHGs).

A system was developed through which water was lifted from Barve dam to the nearby well through a motor pump, thus making water accessible to the majority of the villagers. Other than water, another major concern of the villagers was limited electricity. The village had very few street lights and regular power failures rendered them of little use. As part of the project, Concern facilitated the installation of 35 solar street lights. The improved visibility helped farmers work for longer hours in the farms and also enabled women and children to commute safely during the late hours. Over the course of the project, it was observed that the anganwadi and the only school of the village do not have continuous water or electricity supply. With the objective of meeting the needs and comfort of the students, 24/7 water supply, a water filter and electrification of the school through solar power were made available. Thus, the students had safe drinking water and a comfortable studying environment. The teachers could also use new techniques for teaching such as audio visuals, music and power point presentations, thus improving the quality of education.

Result:

The farmers were also provided with farmer kits which included different vegetable seeds and tools to ensure they had adequate means of farming. 11 spraying pumps for fertilizers were also made available. All these, together with the improved water supply, enabled the farmers to cultivate more than 2 crops in a year. This led to the availability of a variety of nutritious and adequate food supplies for their families as well as improved livelihood-earning opportunities.

This intervention has enabled the villagers to have sustained income generation in the village and reverse migration through farmer produce. It has also enhanced social and economic development through increase in farmers’ income. Along with this, there will also be an overall improvement in the quality of life of other members of the community, such as women and children. All the support provided was a niche to the village which has resulted in empowering the farmers and women.

Sustainable Livelihood through Community Based Farming Practices at Chengalpattu District – Tamil Nadu

Vijaya (40) resides in L. Endathur village in Tamil Nadu with her husband and two sons. Their daughter is married.  Despite having their own land, Vijaya worked as a daily wage labourer on farms of other people and if need be, do unskilled work to meet the basic needs of the family. With an alcoholic husband, Vijaya is the sole earning member. Her sons had to discontinue studies owing to financial crisis. Vijaya worked part time as a sanitation health worker in the village panchayat and partly as a farm labourer, when work was available and earned Rs. 6000/pm.

Vijaya is part of the marginalized farmer groups who received land from the government under the Bhoodan movement (land gift movement). Under this movement, the landless Schedule Caste families received land from the government to help them join the mainstream society. 38 acres of land in Vellaputhur village was allocated to 76 Schedule Caste families, while the Panchayat of L. Endathur village allocated 12 acres of land to a group of 72 women for agriculture. The land was allocated to women as the men of the community were dealing with alcoholism.        

 

However, most of the land that they were allocated was either barren, wasteland, rocky or with no source of water. Agriculture being completely rain fed and lack of proper irrigation facilities in these two villages failed to help the villagers make optimal use of the land. The women farmers from the marginalized sections of the community in Vellaputhur and L. Endathur villages worked as daily wage laborers in rich landowners’ farms. They were involved in menial jobs despite owning farming land.  Due to their poor economic condition, they were unable to install required irrigation and other related facilities to take up agriculture as their livelihood option .The men of the community were forced to opt for unskilled jobs and migrate to cities in search of jobs. They were subjected to unemployment, unskilled or semi-skilled labour, caste-based discrimination, violence against women, lack of access to nutritious food and total isolation from the mainstream. Access to self-employment was the need of the hour.

At this juncture, Concern India Foundation supported the women farmers from marginalized sections of the community in L. Endathur and Vellaputhur villages through the livelihood support project during 2019-20. 148 women farmers were capacitated to initiate multi-cropping agriculture in 50 acres of land through scientific approach. The project involved deepening of wells, installing drip irrigation and constructing horticulture creeper sheds and surface level ponds which enabled regular cultivation. Post soil analysis, we undertook soil re-mineralisation, levelled the land and added organic manure, after which the soil was ready for fruitful cultivation. We also made provisions for the villagers to be able to store water.

With the inputs from the experts, the farmers are now able to cultivate more than 25 varieties of crops/vegetables and the crops were cultivated twice in both the villages. The cooperative farmer groups were able to improve production efficiency and productivity which led to an increased income of 38 lakhs by the end of the year. Their income is set to increase considerably in the years to come, which will eventually lead to substantial improvement in their standard of living.

The project reached out to over 740 people of the community. Through support from Concern India Foundation, the land belonging to these farmer groups were prepared for agriculture and women farmers like Vijaya could also now cultivate their land. Along with the other 72 women farmers of L. Endathur, Vijaya and her group cultivated groundnut, green gram, black gram, cow pea, white pumpkin, paddy, brinjal, ridge gourd, snake gourd and bitter gourd. The capacity building trainings on scientific farming and marketing also helped Vijaya and her cooperative farmer group members to effectively implement the techniques learnt in the trainings. 80 tonnes of vegetables and crops were harvested and the group earned a profit of Rs.11, 90,000. Now with this cooperative farming, Vijaya has improved her monthly earning to Rs. 20, 000, thus being able to provide better for her family. She has ensured to have her kids are enrolled back in school.

“I am very happy that I can involve in agriculture activities regularly

and earn income through it”.

- Vijaya

Sustainability is of utmost importance for the project and further support will enhance the employment opportunities for the beneficiaries and lead to agriculture becoming a complete livelihood option for them. Therefore, Concern India Foundation will continue to work in the 2 villages for the second year as well. The implementation strategies and activities for sustainable agriculture will be completely based on the project output/assessment conducted during year-I and multilevel consultation with the cooperative farmer group leaders/members as well as opinions from organic farming experts.