Tata Steel at Sukinda creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for farmers

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Bhubaneswar: Agriculture being the backbone of majority of the rural population across Odisha, Tata Steel in its operational areas across Odisha has been empowering farmers through various sustainable livelihood opportunities.
At Sukinda, the company has been facilitating and providing training to farmers to increase agricultural productivity by helping them with System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method of paddy cultivation, multi-copping techniques and providing them with agricultural infrastructural support.
When it comes to paddy cultivation, most of the farmers continue to opt for age-old agricultural practices, that are high on labour and input cost, but low on quality and yield. Seeing this as an impediment to the growth of paddy production and to improve the livelihood of small and marginal farmers, Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS) at Sukinda has been promoting SRI method of paddy cultivation. This method has been widely acknowledged and accepted as a cost effective and water friendly way to cultivate paddy and obtain higher yields. For the last five years, Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS), the CSR wing of Tata Steel at Sukinda has been extensively training and encouraging farmers to turn to SRI. Village level as well as institutional training programmes on SRI have also been organised. Over 203 farmers in Sukinda adopted SRI method in FY` 18 for which 10 training sessions were organized to acquaint farmers on SRI and best paddy cultivation practices.
When it comes to raising cropping intensity, water plays a decisive role. Given the depleting groundwater levels, inadequate water storage facilities, coupled with the ill impacts of climate change, the much-needed shift from mono-cropping to multi-cropping cannot be achieved without the provision of water and irrigation systems. To combat this, Tata Steel has been developing Water Harvesting Structures and setting-up irrigation facilities to help farmers achieve the objective of multiple cropping by growing vegetables as second or third crop. Farmers of Sukinda attain multiple cropping by cultivating brinjal, tomato, ladies finger, beans, bottle guard, bitter guard, pumpkin, pulses and oil seeds. About 241 acres of land was brought under second or third crop cultivation with 134 farmers during the year. Besides this, several exposure visits and training programmes were organised last year for progressive farmers on vegetable cultivation, mushroom cultivation,etc. TSRDS distributed more than 2000 fruit bearing plants at Maruabil, Ransol and Kansa Grampanchayat farmers and 1.20 lakh fingerlings in 10 ponds at Kendupada, Bambilo, Kateni, Kankadpal, Mahulkhal, Sapua and Krushnapur for increasing the additional income of households.
Over 12 years have passed since Meghu Mohanta started a mango orchard at Kharkhari village in Kankadahada block of Dhenkanal district. He started getting returns from his orchard since the year 2010-11 and his income has increased to Rs 2.5 lakh in 2018 from Rs 40,000 per annum. Meghu has got 13 acres of which 7 acres is mango orchard and 6 acres is paddy field. About his mango mission, he says, “After returning from Gudisahi I visited the office of TSRDS, Sukinda, and discussed my plans with the officials there. Following this, officials of TSRDS provided mango saplings of good variety (Ambrapali) and guided me. In 2005, I started plantation and took care of the trees for five years. Since 2010-11, I started getting profits from the mango orchard which has 350 trees. In 2018, my income soared to Rs 2.5 lakh. Apart from the orchard, I earn from paddy and vegetable cultivation. Fish farming and poultry also add to my income (over Rs 4 lakh/annum). I am very satisfied with the sustainable livelihood opportunities provided to me by Tata Steel.”

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