Bhubaneswar: At a time when most of the farmers of Odisha are opting for high yield varieties of paddy, the Aditya Birla Group company Aditya Aluminium Lapanga has successfully convinced the farmers in western Odisha to go for the indigenous variety Black rice, popularly known as ‘Kalabati’ rice, which was lost over the years.
Aditya Aluminium’s ‘Project Samridhi’ has encouraged farmers of Rengali Block to migrate from subsistence farming to profitable commercial agricultural pursuits and is helping farmers experiment with organic farming.
This year in a pilot project, Aditya Aluminium is promoting Black rice cultivation among 55 farmers in 5 acres of land. During interactive meetings at village level more than 60 farmers from 4-gram panchayats have evinced interest to start farming black rice. A total of 1.25 quintals of seeds have been procured for the pilot project as input cost support and distributed among the farmers. More than 500 farmers, including 250 farmers from 20 Farmers’ Club, are benefited through various CSR interventions under Aditya Aluminium’s Project Samridhi.
“Though black rice is native to Odisha, its demand declined gradually with discovery of different varieties of high-yield paddy seeds. We are just trying to bring it back from the brink of extinction,” “Most importantly, the black rice with medicinal values is rich in vitamins B and E, niacin, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. It works like an antioxidant in the body. The cooked black rice is useful for cancer and diabetic patients,” said Mr Sameer Nayak, the Unit Head of Aditya Aluminium.
To familiarize farmers with the new crop pattern, orientation program and exposure visits were organised by Aditya Aluminium for effective implementation of the activity. Training was imparted on methodology of sowing the seed, process of de-weeding and harvesting which helped farmers through the process of adopting the new crop, adds Mr Nayak.
Keeping in view the reluctance of some prospective farmers due to marketing issues, Aditya Aluminium has ensured buy back support to farmers in case the produce is not sold out in the local market.
Besides, the Company is also focusing on preservation of seeds, and encouraging farmers to establish seed banks at village level which will help in availability of quality seed in lean period and reduce input cost.
“I had no idea about Black rice. With support from Aditya Aluminium, I cultivated Black rice in half an acre of land this year. The crop is ready for harvest; and I am sure it will give me a good return. I am planning to cultivate more land next year,” said Manoj Das of Lapanga, while expressing gratitude to the Aditya Aluminium CSR team for their support and guidance.
As a responsible corporate citizen and driven by the constant motivation to give back to society, in Odisha, the Aditya Birla Group reaches out to more than 5 lakhs people touching over 2 lakh lives in 128 villages. The Group’s CSR is conducted under the aegis of the Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development chaired by Mrs. Rajashree Birla. The Group’s vision is to actively contribute to the social and economic development of the communities in which we operate. In doing so, build a better, sustainable way of life for the weaker sections of society. And raise the country’s human development index. The Group’s CSR vision is aligned with UNSDG goals to eliminate poverty and ensure freedom from hunger.