Bhubaneswar: About 65 percent of the workforce in India depends on agriculture for livelihood. The agriculture sector, contributes about 16 per cent to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).
Owing to the rapid growth of the non-farm sectors, profitability has taken a setback in Agriculture, leading to migration of people – from villages to urban areas – in search of livelihoods.
Utkal Alumina International Limited (UAIL), an Aditya Birla Group Company, has undertaken a series of interventions in the Kashipur block of Rayagada district.
Though most people in this tribal dominated block depend on agriculture, issues like non-availability of input in time, poor irrigation infrastructure, inadequate storage, processing and marketing facilities, etc pose serious problems to small and marginal farmers.
“To avert these issues, Mr. N. Nagesh, President and Unit Head of Utkal Alumina says “We are providing training to farmers on how to increase production level by educating them on different aspects of crop protection technology. We are also giving them all the necessary support to make the agriculture a commercial enterprise one. We accord them ample opportunities and avenues to market their produces by organizing various vegetable fairs regularly.” Two weekly vegetable markets are set up at the two townships of Utkal Alumina.
Furthermore, “Utkal Alumina has been focusing on agricultural development in the Kashipur block of Rayagada district. UAIL actively helped farmers in the forming of 24 farmers clubs in accordance with the guidelines of NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), involving 460 members from 24 peripheral villages. These groups have certain advantages over others in procurement of inputs, thus helping to realise better margins. They enable collective marketing, provide for facilities and services under different Government schemes, and enrich skill and knowledge through exchange of ideas and information adds Mr Rakesh Mishra, the AVP Admin., CSR, Land & Legal of UAIL.
In view of sustainability and institution building, a producer company namely “Tikiri Agro Craft Producers Company Limited’, Tikiri (acts as an apex body of farmers) has been promoted in the year 2014 where shareholders are from these farmers clubs. Day-by-day the membership is increasing. At present supply of inputs and services are being provided by producer company to its members.
Both Utkal Alumina and Producer Company are working closely with different line departments like Agriculture, Horticulture Integrated Tribal Development Agency and Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation bringing positively impact in the livelihoods of farmers.
UAIL’s contribution has brought a paradigm shift from subsistence agriculture to profitable commercial agriculture in the locality. It has motivated at least 369 farmers from 24 villages to opt for vegetable cultivation in 60 acres of land during this Kharif season. Furthermore, farmers have been supplied with improved and high yielding vegetable seeds in time. More than 630 farmers from 14 villages have been given about 15435 saplings of mango, litchi and cashew in between FY 2015-16 to 2017-18. Besides, 22 farmers from Kodipari village have been supplied 64500 Eucalyptus saplings.
Farmers of Kucheipadar and Bagrijhola villages have benefitted with the seven dug wells and three rope and washer water lifting devices to get rid of drudgery. Irrigation channels have been constructed and renovated in Dwimundi, G Karol, Hadiguda, Dongasil and Jogiparitunda villages to facilitate smooth flow of water from check dams to agricultural lands.
A check dam and a diversion-based irrigation structure has been constructed in Jiri Jhola site of Kucheipadar, where farmers have tapped perennial sources of water on the hill top and put them to use in agricultural lands down the hill. Apart from these, nine more check dams have been constructed and renovated in different villages. 28 deep bore-wells at Sanamatikana, 11 micro river lifts in the villages (Sanamatikana, Makapadar and Kampar), 4 river lift at (Hatikhaman and Ratachuan), and drip irrigation system in 7 villages (Sanamatikana, Bilamal, Makapadar, Ranjuguda, Kantamal, Adajore, Sindurghati) are put in the services of farmers of different villages under Biju Krushak Vikash Yojana through Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation Limited.
“Now, we have access to all the government schemes and facilities. We are very thankful to Utkal Alumina for their consistent support in providing us with farm inputs, irrigation and training facilities,” says Purna Jhodia, Chief Coordinator, Maa Chitagudi Krushak Sangha, G Karal.
Utkal Alumina’s endeavors in improving agriculture and providing sustainable livelihood to people has gone a long way in transforming lives in the Kashipur block of Rayagada district, a remote corner of Odisha.