Lanjigarh (Orissa): Janak Sahu, a paddy farmer in Harekrushnapur village, used to practice single crop farming for around 140 days. The rest of the year he worked as a daily wage labourer, and his annual income never exceeded Rs.25,000.
But today, his fields remain green throughout the year and his earning has shot up to Rs.80,000. His son goes to school and he owns a television, a radio as well as other electrical appliances. And this in one of the most economically backward regions of the country – Kalahandi.
Life has certainly changed for Sahu and many other farmers like him in Lanjigarh village block, 450 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, in Kalahandi district. The change has happened over a period of four years, thanks to the corporate social responsibility (CSR) scheme of the company Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL).
VAL, which is part of the Vedanta Resources Group of the London-based Anil Agarwal, initiated the “Shashya Shilpa Abhiyan” – a sustainable livelihood promotion programme – in the area in 2004.
“The Shashya Shilpa Abhiyan by Vedanta Group changed my life,” says a grateful Sahu.
Farmers like him have proved that agriculture and industry can grow hand in hand. Their household incomes have gone up by more than 200 percent, thanks to the CSR scheme which helped introduce better agricultural practices, resulting in increased productivity, says the company.
The CSR initiative adopted a multipronged approach, including training farmers on the benefits of commercially viable sustainable agriculture, organic farming and managing irrigation by diverting streams or using the water lift method, and integrated pest management.
All agricultural guidance was provided free of cost. Material help in terms of seeds, biofertilizers and pesticides was also provided to farmers.
Sahu, for instance, instantly seized the opportunity. He participated in training sessions and workshops organised by Vedanta and started practicing the modern and best agricultural techniques, bringing into use quality seeds, organic fertilisers and other support.
His irrigated land has now increased from 0.75 acres to 5 acres, says the company. Regular monitoring and technical support rendered by VAL has helped him increase the productivity of land.
While Sahu used to practice only paddy farming for 120 to 140 days in the kharif (summer-monsoon) season only, he now does multiple cropping. His land remains green throughout the year.
And that’s the story of many farmers in the region. With better incomes, they can send their children to school and afford many items. Their quality of life has improved.
Vedanta’s CSR programme is also carried out in the state’s Jharsuguda area.
(Indo-Asian News Service)